Wednesday, December 4, 2019

"Girlfriend" by Bobby Brown

Song#:  2972
Date:  12/20/1986
Debut:  76
Peak:  57
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B, Soul

Pop Bits:  As New Edition's star was on the rise, Bobby Brown's satisfaction with being a member of the group was on the decline. He felt they were not getting paid properly and he started to resent the amount of attention that was being pushed towards primary lead vocalist Ralph Tresvant. Brown was also not happy with the musical direction of the group. He would act out in various way including on stage, which did not sit well with folks. As 1986 rolled in, Brown found himself voted out of the group. Luckily for him, New Edition's label, MCA, saw potential in Brown and offered him a solo deal. He was eighteen years old when his debut album, King of Stage, was released. This first single got things rolling and it ended up being a big hit at R&B reaching #1. The tune crossed over to Pop, but it didn't catch on and it stalled in the bottom half of the chart. A second single, "Girl Next Door," would only get to #31 at R&B. In turn, the album would be a modest seller (#12 R&B, #88 Pop). It was a good start to Brown's solo career, but he would skyrocket to stardom two years later thanks to a change in producers and sound.

ReduxReview:  Well, I'm not sure what MCA was trying to do with Brown, but this really wasn't the way to go. It's an old-fashioned-leaning soul track that was way too mature for Brown. He was a capable vocalist, but he didn't have the chops to handle a song like this one and it showed. I mean, there was a reason his label was pushing Tresvant to the forefront - he was a much better vocalist. Yet, Brown had attitude and personality so with the right material he could do well. Unfortunately, this wasn't the right song to showcase Brown. Surprisingly, it somehow got to #1 at R&B, but does anyone remember it now? It's the sound of an artist trying to find where they belong. Luckily, his next album would capitalize on a new style of R&B that fit Brown like a glove. It was such a hit that people fortunately forgot about his messy debut.

ReduxRating:  3/10

Trivia:  Brown's album featured no less that six producers and twenty songwriters. It was almost like throwing stuff against a wall and seeing what sticks. The one song that did stick was this one. It was written by Larry White, Kirk Crumpler, and Lee Peters. The three composers were members of an R&B band called Collage. That band was initially signed to Dick Griffey's SOLAR Records and the recorded two albums for the label in '81 and '83. They then moved over to MCA for their third album, 1985's Shine the Light. It produce their only charting single, the #88 R&B track "Romeo Where's Juliet?" With the album not charting, the band ended up splitting. However, the relationship with MCA led to this song getting over to Bobby Brown. White would produce the track.


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