Thursday, September 28, 2017

"Yo, Little Brother" by Nolan Thomas

Song#:  2175
Date:  01/05/1985
Debut:  85
Peak:  57
Weeks:  13
Genre:  Synthpop, Dance, R&B

Pop Bits:  Teenager Mark Kalfa got involved in the arts at an early age and soon began to pursue a career in music. Producers Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa (of Shannon's "Let the Music Play" fame) had a song in the can ready to go and after stumbling upon Kalfa, got him signed to Mirage Records and work began on a music video for the song and a debut LP. Kalfa also got a name change to Nolan Thomas. This first single was issued and it got a little attention on three charts. It did the best at R&B where it got to #26. It also got to #39 at Dance and near the Top 50 at Pop. A follow-up single titled "Too White" failed to do anything. A third single, a remake of The Osmonds 1970 #1 hit "One Bad Apple" (which featured a new rap section) did get to #48 at R&B. The results were not all that great and Thomas' music career came to a halt. He recorded some songs later in the decade under the name Marko Kalfa, but nothing came from them. Kalfa left music and later got involved in fashion and design.

ReduxReview:  Well, this certainly isn't "Let the Music Play." At first I really though this tune was total crap, but I think that was because I watched the is-it-so-bad-it's-awesome video (um, it's not awesome). Without that distraction, I listened again and there are a couple good things going on. The Liggett/Barbosa production is spot-on and the chorus is pretty solid. I still don't think it's a very good song, but once I ignored the video it wasn't all that bad.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Although Thomas got the credit for this song, apparently he did not actually perform the lead vocal on the track. Liggett and Barbosa recorded it with singer Elan Lanier. However, it seemed that the powers that be didn't think Lanier was marketable as an artist. That's when Thomas entered the picture. His image seemed ripe for potential teenage pin-up stardom. But with the single completed and ready to go, it was decided to leave in Lanier's voice and then let Thomas take the credit and star in the video for the song. The video became a bit famous in some circles due to its bad lip syncing and a cast of kids that were imitating hot music artist of the time like Prince, Billy Idol, and Cyndi Lauper. Thomas would do all the vocal work on the remaining tracks for his debut album, but he was really just the face for this one. Lanier would continue to work in music doing background vocals for artists in the studio and on tours. In later years, this type of switcheroo would results in lawsuits (Martha Wash not getting credit for her work on C+C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat" and Zelma Davis miming the part in the video) and rescinded Grammys (Milli Vanilli).



  1. 9/10 for me. I think it's cheesy, but I still love this songs, it's beat, and Lanier's singing voice. The music video is also really cheap and funny as well. This song is 80's nostalgia in a bottle.

    1. You aren't the only one who loved the tune. I found quite a few folks commenting on the innernets about how much they loved this song. Someone mentioned that it was played all over the radio constantly back in the day. It must have been a specific market as I never heard this song or saw the video until now. It certainly is an interesting artifact from the decade and a fun one to uncover.

  2. This song was a big deal in Los Angeles. It got a lot of airplay and video rotation. I really liked it, and was surprised it didn't go higher on the charts,

    1. It probably should have done better on the chart. But that video...yikes...