"I Will Be" is a song co-written and originally performed by Canadian singer Avril Lavigne, which was included on the North American, Taiwanese, and Japanese limited editions of her third studio album The Best Damn Thing as well as an iTunes Store pre-order bonus track in 2007 and the deluxe tracklist on Spotify. British singer-songwriter Leona Lewis covered the song for her debut studio album, Spirit, also released in 2007. It is a piano and guitar led song. It garnered a mixed response from music critics, with some critics praising Lewis's vocal performance and delivery, whilst others described it as emotionless.
Upon the release of Spirit in November 2007, the song peaked at number 160 on the UK Singles Chart due to strong digital download sales. It was released for US Contemporary hit radio airplay on 6 January 2009. Throughout January to March 2009, it also made an impact on the Canadian and United States charts; in the former, it peaked at number 83, while it peaked at number 66 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the latter. However, it was more successful on the US Adult Pop Songs and Pop Songs charts, peaking at numbers 23 and 24, respectively. As part of the promotion, a music video was shot in New York City and featured Chace Crawford as Lewis's love interest. In January 2009, she performed the song on the Late Show with David Letterman.
Production and recordingEdit
"I Will Be" was written by Avril Lavigne, Max Martin, Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald; it was produced by Dr. Luke, and was co-produced by Steven Wolf and Max Beckley and Smit. Lavigne originally performed the song, which was included on her third studio album The Best Damn Thing (2007), included on the bonus track edition. In the same year Leona Lewis covered the song. Lewis's version was recorded at multiple recording studios around the world, including Conway Recording Studios and Westlake Recording Studios, in Los Angeles, California; Henson Recording Studios, Opra Music, and Ocean Way Recording, all located in Hollywood, California; Dr. Luke's personal recording studio in New York City; Atlantic Studios, Stockholm, Sweden; Sarm West, London, England. The production coordinators were Gary "The Shredder" Silver and Emily Wright.
A multitude of engineers were involved with the process of recording the song, including Doug McKean, Rob Smith, Seth Waldmann, Keith Gretlin, Josh Wilbur, Tom Syrowski, Tatiana Gottwald, Chris Soper, Sam Holland, Chris Holmes, Rouble Kapoor, Wesley Seidman, Janne Hansson, Emily Wright, Marcus Dextegen and Sam Cross. "I Will Be" was mixed by Chris Lord-Alge at Resonale Recording Studios, Burbank, CA, and was assisted by Keith Armstrong and Nik Karpen. For the instrumental, Leon Pendarvis was the conductor and arranger; Martin provided piano, Dr. Luke the electric guitar and Yamaha Corporation the Acoustic guitar, Jack Daley the bass and Wolf the drums and percussion.
"I Will Be" is a piano and guitar led song, which lasts for a duration of 3 minutes, 58 seconds. The song was composed in the key of G major using common time and a slow groove at 72 beats per minute. Lewis's vocal range spans two octaves, from the low note of B3 to the high note of B5, on the song. The song opens with the lyrics "There's nothing I could say to you, nothing I could ever do to make you see what you mean to me." Chad Grischow for IGN described the song's piano led instrumental to be "overblown", but noted that Lewis has enough "vocal strength to prevent her from being overshadowed by the drowningly lush sound." Eric R. Danton wrote on his review of Spirit for the Hartford Courant daily that "I Will Be" begins with a "spare piano introduction" that "blossoms into an arrangement buoyed by strings and then drums and guitar". Danton described Lewis's vocals as "delicate" and that "take flight on the chorus". The lyrics to Lewis' version of the song are slightly altered; in the middle 8, Lewis sings, "without you, I can't breathe", whereas in the original recording Lavigne sings, "without you, I can't sleep".
The song garnered a mixed response from music critics. Nate Chinen for The New York Times was complimentary of Lewis's cover, and praised her "powerhouse vocals". Matt O'Leary for Virgin Media wrote that Lewis's rendition of the song was "epic", and that when the production is kept minimal, "her uniqueness is allowed to shine." Although Sarah Rodman for The Boston Globe described the song as "predictable", she praised Lewis's ability to sing with "believable pathos" and hit clean notes. Sarah-Louise James for the Daily Star was critical of Lewis's rendition, and described it as insincerely emotional. Sal Cinquemani for Slant Magazine was also critical of the song, writing that it is "dangerously middle-of-the-road." Danton from the Hartford Courant considered the song as "ready-made for awards shows or emotional on-screen montages." He concluded that "I Will Be" is a "powerful stuff, and it would make for a gem of a pop record if it kept up."
The music video for "I Will Be" was shot in New York City on 18 December 2008, and features Gossip Girl actor Chace Crawford as one of the characters. A reporter for People explained how the inclusion of Crawford in the video came to fruition, writing that "Chace went to London a couple months ago for meetings and to promote Gossip Girl. He went to a party and ended up meeting Leona. [They] hit it off and talk every once in a while and have become fast friends. A couple weeks ago Leona called Chace and asked if he would be in her next video. He obviously said yes." In the video, it is presumed that Lewis and Crawford have stolen a large amount of money, as it opens with dialogue between the pair and how they are going to try and arrange to meet each other at a later date, due to the police closing in on them. As the song begins to play, Lewis sings the first verse on the car bonnet in which they were shown sitting in previously. As she sings the first chorus, she stands up and faces Crawford in the car, and begins to walk away in a car park as she sings the second verse. For the second chorus, Lewis is shown to evade the police by trying to escape by car park stairways, but is confronted by policemen in most directions she goes. For the final chorus, Lewis makes it out onto the road and runs from the police in their cars, but is ultimately blocked from escape in all directions as they close in on her, arrest her, and place her in the back of a police car. People ranked the video as one of the most anticipated videos to be released in January 2009.
On 20 January 2009, Lewis' performed the song on the Late Show with David Letterman to promote its release as a single. Complimentary of her performance, Letterman said "Beautiful! Oh my God that was lovely" after Lewis finished the song. Lizzie Smith for The Guardian wrote that her performance was the "latest step towards her domination of the American music scene." She also commented on the interaction between Lewis and Letterman after her performance, writing "It's rare for American chatshow host David Letterman to do more than shake the hands of performers on his U.S. show, but when X Factor winner Leona Lewis made an appearance he could hardly keep his hands off her. Hugging Leona, a smitten Letterman caught her by surprise by asking: 'Anything you want to talk about?' As Leona looked bemused Letterman cheekily added: 'Let's go up to the house and we'll talk about it. Smith concluded her review of the performance with "But rather than looking pleased with his attentions a blushing Leona looked distinctly uncomfortable."
Avril Lavigne's versionEdit
Leona Lewis' versionEdit
- This song may have been recorded for the Eragon's soundtrack, as it has been told that Avril recorded two songs for the film, and also because the song from the film "Keep Holding On" is similar in theme and tune.