“Unforgettable” by Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole

The very general implication would be that “Unforgettable” was written primarily with a romantic interest in mind. And we are making that presumption based on a couple of lyrics, such as the vocalist referring to the addressee as “darling”. But of course darling is a term of endearment that can be used in a number of different relationship settings, say from a father to his daughter for instance, as well as vice versa. 

So that’s why the lyrics remained virtually unchanged when the song transitioned from a solo-male track to one that is also featuring a female vocalist which is his daughter.

And this is about as close to an unconditional love song as one can get. The singer never specifies why he or she so amazingly loves the addressee, as to what amazing attributes this person may possess which serves as the basis of their affection. Or let’s say there is two characteristics mentioned, which is the addressee being “unforgettable” and this person deeming the vocalist likewise also. 

So what is evident is that this isn’t a case of one-sided admiration. Rather the vocalist and addressee love each other the same, in a way that neither of them can ever forget the other. And the lyrics state that this is the first time the vocalist is feeling this way. Thus perhaps some might see this as giving further credence to the theory that this song may be romantic in nature.

Beyond Romance

But that is also the type of expression that a parent can relay to their firstborn child. And at the end of the day we don’t want to go too deep in overanalyzing the wording. And why? Simply because ultimately what the narrator is fundamentally expressing to the recipient of this message is a sentiment akin to ‘I will love you forevermore’.

Lyrics to “Unforgettable”

Release Date of “Unforgettable”

This is a song which the late Nat King Cole first dropped in 1951. Nat King Cole (1919-1965) is considered to be one of the greatest singers in American history – being instrumental in breaking the color barrier for instance – and this is his signature tune. And “Unforgettable” experienced a major surge in popularity in 1991 when it was covered by his first-born child, Natalie Cole.

Out of all of Nat’s children, Natalie Cole (1950-2015) is the one who followed most in his footsteps. That is to say that she also went on to have a successful and even prolife music career. She actually dropped over 20 studio albums between 1975 and 2013. 

And amazingly enough, many people would consider her cover of “Unforgettable” to be her signature tune also. For instance, it fared better than any of the other singles in her discography. And the album it was featured on, 1991’s “Unforgettable… with Love”, was also the biggest seller of her career.

More specifically said cover is a duet with her father, which Elektra Records officially released on the date of 12 July 1991. And if you’re wondering how such is possible considering that Nat King Cole passed away almost 30 years prior, it was thanks to technology. They actually used recordings of his voice, with the track more technically being referred to as a “virtual duet”. 

Track’s Achievements

The original was a hit, breaking the top 20 on 3 different Billboard charts, as well as appearing on the UK Singles Chart in 1988. The cover was even a lot more successful. For instance, it also made it onto the top 20 of 3 Billboard charts, in addition to peaking at number 19 in the UK. 

Additionally it topped Canada’s Adult Contemporary listing and charted in approximately a dozen nations around the world. The original only appeared in the US and UK. 

Moreover 1991’s “Unforgettable” has been certified gold in Australia, where it peaked at number two on the ARIA chart.

Grammy Glory

Moreover the more recent version took home three Grammy Awards in 1992. One was specifically awarded to the late Irving Gordon (1915-1996), who was still alive at that time. The award was in the category of Song of the Year. Irvin was actually the sole writer of “Unforgettable”. 

Then David Foster, the producer of the duet, was awarded the Record of the Year trophy. 

And finally Johnny Mandel, the song’s arranger, was the one primarily recognized with the Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) award.

Natalie Cole's “Unforgettable”

Natalie Cole

It has been noted that Natalie took up singing at a very young age. And even though she was never officially credited with dropping any tracks alongside her dad when he was alive, it has been noted that she did actually participant on some Nat King Cole tracks when he was around. 

There is actually a reason that she did not make more of an effort to cover her father’s songs until the Unforgettable album. And that was because earlier in her career Natalie intentionally tried to distance herself from his legacy. Simply put, she wanted to make a name for herself.

She didn’t want to operate under her father’s legendary shadow. Interestingly enough, that is sorta ironic. And why? Simply because ultimately the said album was by far her greatest musical success.

More Notable Covers

Other artists have covered this song after the Nat/Natalie duet. One such notable artist was Sia in 2016. And interesting to note is that Chinese action superstar Jackie Chan also lent his voice to “Unforgettable”. Jackie did it as a duet with Irish singer Lisa Kelly in 2002.

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