Thursday, November 19, 2020

"(Baby Tell Me) Can You Dance" by Shanice Wilson

Song#:  3323
Date:  11/07/1987
Debut:  81
Peak:  50
Weeks:  13
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Born in Pittsburgh, Shanice Wilson ended up in L.A. at a young age thanks to her mom and aunt seeking a career in music. The two women couldn't get a break, but they soon realized that Shanice was developing into a talented singer and they switched focus from them to promoting the youngster. Work started to come her way including a stint on the 1984 children's program Kids Incorporated. As her teen years kicked off, Wilson caught the attention of A&M Records. They signed her to a deal and her debut album, Discovery, was released in the fall of '87. This first single got pushed out and it made the R&B Top 10 at #6 while reaching #16 at Dance. The song then crossed over to Pop and it did fairly well stopping at the halfway point. A follow-up single, "No 1/2 Steppin'," would get to #6 R&B, but failed to get on the other charts. The album would be a minor seller getting to #37 R&B/#149 Pop. The results were good for a young new artist, but it seems issues may have arisen with the label and/or Wilson's career direction because she would stay silent for the next four years.

ReduxReview:  There's no doubt in my mind that A&M was trying to turn Shanice into another Janet Jackson, who was also on the label. The whole album was written and produced by Bryan Loren and tracks like this one were definitely a take on the Jam & Lewis productions found on Jackson's Control album. This song even featured a spoken word part a la "What Have You Done for Me Lately." It wasn't a bad Jam & Lewis imitation, but there were a couple of problems. First, Shanice was a far better singer than Jackson and this single did nothing to showcase her talent. Second, there was already a Janet Jackson and we didn't need another. The tune itself was fine. It just didn't feel original. Although it became a hit at R&B, I think Shanice deserved better. I'm sure it had to be hard though because she was just 14 and new in the business, so you take the advice and hope it works out. She would find her own voice over on Motown (see below) where she began co-writing her songs and having a bit more control over her career and it resulted in the irresistible hit "I Love Your Smile." As for this single, if you like Jam & Lewis circa this time period, this one is not a bad knock off.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Whatever issues Wilson had after her debut album, it seems all got ironed out and she was able to sign on with Motown Records in 1991. Late that year, her second album, Inner Child, was released. By this point she was going by the singular name of Shanice. Its first single, "I Love Your Smile," became her biggest hit reaching #1 R&B and #2 Pop. It would help make the album her only gold seller. She then scored another hit in 1992 with "Saving Forever for You," a song from the soundtrack to the TV show Beverly Hills 90210. It would get to #4 Pop and #20 R&B. Her second Motown album, 1994's 21...Ways to Grow, failed to replicate the success of her previous effort and Wilson would once again take an extended break and switch labels. Her self-titled 1999 album for LaFace Records would get her back in the spotlight with the single "When I Close My Eyes" getting to #4 R&B and #12 Pop. After that, Wilson's recording career cooled off. She would then sing background vocals for many top artists and appear in several TV programs, which included starring in her own reality show with her husband. Flex and Shanice would debut in 2014 on Oprah's OWN network and last for three seasons.  2) In 1984 at the age of 11, Shanice would compete in the junior vocalist category on the popular competition show Star Search. She would win her rounds and go on to be the category's grand champion for that year.


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