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February 20, 2023

Babyface, Kelly Clarkson perform Boyz II Men's 'I'll Make Love To You'

The R&B songwriter sat down with the TV personality to share the stories behind his most beloved songs. The Philly band nearly balked at recording the hit

Music R&B
Kelly Clarkson Show Babyface Weiss Eubanks/NBCUniversal

Babyface joined Kelly Clarkson on NBC's 'The Kelly Clarkson Show' on Monday to talk about the history behind Boyz II Men's iconic ballad 'I'll Make Love To You' and perform the song with the 'American Idol' winner.

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, the R&B singer, songwriter and record producer whose career spans nearly five decades, joined Kelly Clarkson on her NBC daytime talk show to tell the stories behind his most beloved work, including "I'll Make Love To You," the sensual ballad he wrote for Boyz II Men. 

Babyface and Clarkson performed an acoustic cover of the 1994 hit during Monday's broadcast, in which Babyface reflected on his time working with the Philadelphia R&B band. Prior to writing "I'll Make Love To You," Babyface wrote and produced "End of the Road," another Boyz II Men classic that was first released in 1992 on the "Boomerang" soundtrack. The song later was included on the re-released version of the band's 1991 debut album, "Cooleyhighharmony."

After Boyz II Men finished touring on their debut album, the band headed back to the studio to record new music. When Babyface sent them "I'll Make Love To You," the band members initially believed the song sounded too much like "End of The Road," which had spent a then-record 13 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. 

"I'll Make Love To You" topped that mark, spending 14 weeks atop the chart. 

"The story is that the guys were a little funny about it (the song) because they didn't want to repeat what they'd done before," Babyface said. "So, I got a call from Jheryl Busby, who was head of Motown, and he told me that they actually voted the song off the album. Then they said that they didn't vote it off the album, they just didn't want it to be the first single. But I get it, it's an artist thing." 

Despite the initial protest from Boyz II Men, the song became the lead single on their second studio album, "II," and was a massive success. At the time, "I'll Make Love To You" tied Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" for the longest time spent on the Billboard Hot 100. ("Old Town Road," by Lil Nas X, now holds the record, at 19 weeks). The song earned Boyz II Men a Grammy Award for best R&B performance and two American Music Awards. 

The second single from "II," "On Bended Knee," replaced "I'll Make Love To You" atop the Billboard Hot 100, making Boyz II Men the third musical act to replace itself on the chart, following Elvis Presley and The Beatles. 

During Babyface's segment on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," the record producer discussed the first few love songs he wrote. Two of them were about a girl he met in the sixth grade. He tracked her down later in life, and she apologized for not realizing the she'd hurt him decades before. 

For Valentine's Day, Boyz II Men appeared on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" to perform a parody of "I'll Make Love To You." The song, dubbed "I'll Make Love To You (But We Don't Have To)," spoofed the lyrics of the slow jam to appeal to middle-aged couples. 

"I'll make love to you if you want me to, unless you're too tired, because I'm tired too," Wanya Morris sang. Check out the parody below.