Wednesday, May 15, 2019

"Baby Love" by Regina

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  2769
Date:  06/21/1986
Debut:  88
Peak:  10
Weeks:  20
Genre:  Dance-Pop

Pop Bits:  This Brooklyn-born singer/songwriter first got her start in a band she assembled called Regina Richards and Red Hot. The new wave group got signed to A&M in 1980 and with producer Richard Gottehrer (The Go-Go's, Blondie) they recorded a couple of singles followed by a self-titled debut album. The records didn't get anywhere and Richards decided to then work as a songwriter rather than a performer. Through her band, she struck up a friendship with drummer Stephen Bray. Bray had been working with another band Emmy & the Emmys, which used space in the same building where the Red Hots rehearsed. That band was headed up by Bray's former girlfriend, a soon-to-be superstar named Madonna. After Madonna hit it big with her debut album, she brought in Bray to help out on her second LP Like a Virgin. The pair would write four songs for the album along with the soundtrack tune "Into the Groove." Bray then reconnected with Richards and the pair began to write songs together. They recorded a demo hoping to sell the songs to other artists. One song in particular, "Baby Love," was written with Madonna in mind. Bray presented the song to Madonna, but she passed on the tune. In a weird twist of fate, the demo found its way to Atlantic Records who then wanted to sign Richards as an artist. Although she had resigned herself to working in the background, Richards decided to give it a shot and signed her second major label deal. Work began on a debut album with Richards writing or co-writing all the songs. It would include two she penned with Bray including this first single, which Bray produced (Leslie Ming would handle production duty on the rest of the tracks). Released as by Regina, the song initially confused a lot of listeners. Due to the vocals, the dance-pop structure, and the production, many people hearing it for the first time thought it was a new Madonna track. Despite the similarities, the tune started to catch on and it began to climb the charts. It would become a #1 Dance hit while reaching the Pop Top 10 and getting to #30 at R&B. The hit was certainly great for Regina, but the Madonna comparisons took their toll and further singles failed to make the Pop chart leaving her as a one-hit wonder.

ReduxReview:  For a one-hit wonder, this song certainly has a lot of interesting history attached to it (see above and below). In interviews with Regina from back in the day, she tried to brush off comparisons between her and Madonna, but c'mon - we pretty much know what happened here. At the time, labels were desperately seeking the next Madonna and when Atlantic heard the demo of this song that was shopped to Madonna, had production by Bray, and Regina nearly impersonating Madonna, they thought they may have found one (they also signed another Madonna-ish clone, Stacy Q, around the same time). There is just no mistaking that this was meant to sound like a Madonna song in order to capitalize on her success (and it wouldn't be the last time Bray would try to cash in on his Madonna connection - look up Breakfast Club or an album called Pre-Madonna). Setting all this aside, the song is actually not too bad. It's got a solid chorus and the sax solo is a nice addition. I think Madonna was right to pass on this as it sounded like a retread of what she'd already done, but it was still a hit-worthy tune.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Triple Shot!  1) Although she was a one-hit wonder on the Pop chart, Regina did get two other songs on the Dance chart. Her follow-up song "Beat of Love" would make it to #40. Two years later, she made it to #11 with the tune "Extraordinary Love." The song was the first single from her second solo album, but after the song failed to reach the Pop chart the album was shelved and remains unreleased. After releasing an indie single in 1990, Regina got married to a doctor and moved to Austin, Texas.  2) Although written with Madonna in mind, she was not the first artist to be offered the song. The Dutch vocal trio The Star Sisters recorded a version of the song for their 1985 album Danger. The Star Sisters were a product of Stars on 45 producer Japp Eggermont. The trio were known for their imitation of The Andrews Sisters. Eggermont produced two albums for them in the Stars on 45 medley style with the Sisters covering old pop standards in an Andrews Sisters way. The trio decided to ditch Eggermont and the Stars On format to record their first mainstream pop album, Danger, which contained this song. (Look it up - it is interesting because it is done as straight pop and not in a dance-pop Madonna way.)  3)  This song was covered by Australian singer Dannii Minogue in 1991. It was issued out as a single and it reached #28 in Australia and #14 in the UK. Dannii is the younger sister of hitmaker Kylie Minogue. Dannii would have a string of hits including nine Top 10's in the UK, but she was never able to crack the US charts. Kylie would grab two US Top 10's including the #3 gold remake of "The Loco-Motion" in 1988.


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