Monday, March 4, 2019

"Under the Influence" by Vanity

Song#:  2697
Date:  04/19/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  56
Weeks:  7
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:   After singer Vanity left her namesake group, Vanity 6, and the Prince camp, she set out on a solo career. It started off a little shaky when her first single, "Pretty Mess," failed to crack the R&B Top 10 and stalled at #75 Pop. A follow-up track fared worse. Still, it was enough to keep her label interested and she went on to record her second LP Skin on Skin. On her first album, Vanity pretty much wrote and co-produced everything. This time around, she opted to just be the voice and gave up producing and songwriting. This first single introduced the album and it did well at R&B getting to #9 while making it to #6 at Dance. The song would be her best effort at Pop getting near the halfway mark. Unfortunately, follow-up singles failed to chart anywhere and the album slipped quietly away. Vanity would then set her sights back on acting and for a while maintained a career with small roles in films and TV shows. She would die of renal failure in 2016.

ReduxReview:  Since Vanity handled much of the work on her middling debut album, Motown probably took bigger control on the follow up and insisted on real producers and songwriters. It wasn't a bad move. The new LP took her a bit away from Prince territory and put her in a sleeker, R&B/Pop arena. Up-n-coming singer/songwriter Robbie Nevil co-wrote a couple of tunes for the LP including this one. The producers made her voice sound better for sure. She's a weak singer, so they layered her voice and buried it a bit. Actually, it makes her sound similar to another singer with minor vocal chops - Paula Abdul. The song is certainly much better than "Pretty Mess." It's more mature with a good chorus and a nice groove. There were a couple of other good tracks on the LP, but there still existed some Prince-ly via Sheila E nods as well. This song is better than "Pretty Mess," but that wasn't a difficult task to accomplish.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  For many years, Vanity lived the fast life. She dated Prince,  Adam Ant, and Billy Idol. Along the way she acquired a crack cocaine addition and it certainly didn't help matters when she was dating the also drug addicted Nikki Sixx from Mötley Crüe. In his book Sixx mentions his time with Vanity and basically said they were "drug buddies." The hard living took a toll on Vanity's health and in 1994 suffered kidney failure from a drug overdose. She came out of the ordeal with a new outlook on life and became a born-again Christian. She renounced her stage name and cut all ties with entertainment, including refusing residuals from her previous work. She wrote a book about her experiences and traveled around speaking at churches. She had a kidney transplant in 1997, but by 2016 her health was in decline and she died of renal failure.


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