Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"Let the Music Play" by Shannon

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  1688
Date:  11/12/1983
Debut:  91
Peak:  8
Weeks:  24
Genre:  R&B, Dance

Pop Bits:  Shannon Greene was performing with the New York Jazz Ensemble while attending York College. She sang with other bands as well and while performing in a studio she was spotted by producers Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa. Soon the trio was working together on a song that would eventually evolve into "Let the Music Play." The results got Shannon signed to Mirage Records and the single was issued. It would end up topping both the R&B and Dance charts while getting into the Pop Top 10. Hitting at multiple formats helped sell the single, which would be certified gold. Her album of the same title was also a hit that reached gold level as well. Unfortunately, Shannon would never visit the Pop Top 40 again and it got her tagged as a one-hit wonder (#43 on VH1's list of Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s). Despite not getting another major Pop hit, Shannon did grab one more R&B Top 10 and two more #1 Dance hits. But those would pale in comparison to this smash that defined her career. Shannon would also get a Grammy nod in the Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, category for the album.

ReduxReview:  If you are gonna have one hit, why not make it a doozie? Shannon certainly did. I think she and her producers knew they were on to something big with this song and it paid off for them. At the time I remember folks talking about "that sound" (see below) and how cool it was. It really put dance music back on the Pop chart. I loved it and still do. It's one of the best dance tracks from the 80s (and actually beyond). It's a shame her career didn't last longer, but I doubt she is all that sad about it because so many people still remember her and this song.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Not only was Shannon's song a big hit, it would also be very influential. With disco absent from the Pop chart, producers and artists were looking for new ways to get dance music back into the mainstream. Liggett and Barbosa tinkered with the keyboard, drum, and bass sounds and rhythms for this song to create something distinctive and unique. What they created for this track initially became known as "The Shannon Sound." Others began imitating and/or creating their own grooves based around this sound. Eventually, the song would be credited as one of the early influences of "freestyle" music. It would be prominent on the Dance charts with several songs becoming hits at Pop. Songs from Exposé ("Come Go with Me," #5, 1987) and Pretty Poison ("Catch Me I'm Falling," #8, 1987) were hits that utilized the freestyle sound. 2) The actual hook of the song is not sung by Shannon. The main melody of the chorus is sung by Jimi Tunnell while Shannon does an answer part during that section. He was uncredited on the single. Tunnell would do many other "ghost" vocal appearances on pop songs, but he was mainly a jazz musician. His foray into the pop music world did result in one pop/R&B self-title album for MCA in 1985. He got a lot of studio and tour work and later on successfully wrote and performed music for a lot of commercials.


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