Saturday, May 1, 2021

"Should I Say Yes?" by Nu Shooz

Song#:  3480
Date:  04/16/1988
Debut:  87
Peak:  41
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Synthpop, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  This group fronted by Valerie Day and her husband John Smith broke through in a big way with their second album Poolside. It would be a #27 gold seller that spawned the #3 hit "I Can't Wait" and earned the band a Grammy nod for Best New Artist. The band then had the task of following up that success. They went back into the studio and emerged with their third effort Told U So. This first single got things kicked off. The song did well over at R&B where it peaked at #17, but on the Pop chart it ended up stopping just outside the Top 40 at the dreaded #41. A second single, "Are You Lookin' for Somebody Nu," would miss both of those charts, but get to #2 at Dance. A third single failed to do anything. With those results, the album didn't do nearly as well as their first stopping at #98 Pop/#49 R&B. Their label, Atlantic, had them record a third album, but after its first single tanked, the album got shelved and remains unreleased. It seems the group then lost their contract and the 80s era of Nu Shooz came to an end.

ReduxReview:  With "I Can't Wait" becoming such an iconic 80s hit, this group was going to have a difficult time trying to overcome the sophomore slump. They needed something hooky and instantly memorable to burst through the lingering effects of their first hit. This song wasn't it. The low-key mid-tempo track was a bit of a snoozer. Its soul-leaning groove was somewhat more successful on urban stations, but it did very little at pop to make people set aside "I Can't Wait." The follow-up, "Are You Lookin' for Somebody Nu," was a better tune and did quite well in the clubs, but it still did nothing to excite a pop audience. They needed a much more forceful tune to turn heads and it might have served them well to work with a hit-making composer/producer on at least one song to anchor the album. Instead, they soldiered on themselves and the results were just not as interesting as Poolside. Without securing that much needed second hit, the band's days were numbered.

ReduxRating:  4/10

Trivia:  After Nu Shooz folded, Valerie Day moved over to being a session vocalist and worked on various projects around her hometown, Portland, Oregon. She would release a couple of albums along the way including a pair of standards collections, one with the Knights of Swing band and the other with local jazz musician Tom Grant. Later in 2010, Day and Smith did a spinoff project of jazz-pop tunes under the name Nu Shooz Orchestra. They would fully revive the Nu Shooz name in 2012 with an album of unreleased tracks from their 80s/90s era title Kung Pao Kitchen. Then in 2016, they would release the first Nu Shooz album of all new material since '88's Told You So titled Bagtown.


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