Almost Doesn't Count

Album: Never Say Never (1998)
Charted: 15 16

Songfacts®:

  • In this song, Brandy finds what is almost the perfect guy, but unfortunately, almost doesn't count. This guy has the goods, but he won't commit, so she needs to fight through the pain and move forward.
  • This was written by the pop songwriters Guy Roche and Shelly Peiken, the team that delivered Christina Aguilera's #1 hit "What a Girl Wants" a year later.

    In a Songfacts interview with Peiken, she told the story behind the song. "That was 100 percent my life," she said. "There was a relationship I had - or didn't have - in college. It was a relationship that was more in my head than in his, and I always felt like we almost got there, he almost said I love you, he almost broke up with the girlfriend he had the whole time. He almost faced his feelings but he never quite got there - maybe that was all in my head too. Maybe he never had any of those feelings, maybe it was all my imagination.

    That relationship was so powerful, and I feel that when you have one of those kinds of relationships, there's no end to the amount of songs you can write about it. You just look at it from a certain perspective and it can last you a lifetime. So, this was 20-25 years after that relationship when I got together with a go-to collaborator, Guy Roche, who I wrote with often, and I dug up that laundry list of all the 'almosts' I felt we had, and we put it into the song called 'Almost Doesn't Count.' We put that song on the back burner for a long time because it was in an A-A-B-A structure, which is very sort of country, so we weren't sure if it was country or if it felt kind of urban... we weren't sure what to do with it.

    Then a few months later we came back to it and it was a lot clearer - not so much the genre, but that it was good enough that we couldn't leave it on the back burner - it was really good and we had to finish it. So we did."
  • This became a country hit when Mark Wills released it in 2000, taking it to #19 on the Country chart. There are a handful of songs that started as country hits and became R&B hits for other artists - "I Will Always Love You" and "I Swear" come to mind - but it rarely works the other way around. "Almost Doesn't Count" is one of the few songs to start off R&B and move to country.
  • Brandy has named this as one of her favorite songs in her catalog. She performs it at just about every concert.
  • A hit in the summer of 1999, "Almost Doesn't Count" was the follow-up single to Brandy's US #1 hit "Have You Ever?"

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