Saturday, August 21, 2021

"Don't Be Cruel" by Bobby Brown

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3589
Date:  07/23/1988
Debut:  86
Peak:  8
Weeks:  26
Genre:  R&B, New Jacks Swing

Pop Bits:  The former New Edition member's first solo album, 1986's King of Stage, didn't exactly set the charts on fire. Its first single, "Girlfriend," was able to get to #1 at R&B (#57 Pop), but it didn't necessarily make the album a hit. It stopped at #12 R&B/#88 Pop and failed to reach gold level sales. The results didn't excite Brown or his label, so for his next effort MCA hooked him up with the new hit making songwriting/production team L.A. Reid and Babyface. After the pair met with Brown, they had much more of a handle on who he was as an artist and decided to help jump start his career. They got to work and one of the first songs they created (with Daryl Simmons) for Brown was this lead single and title track from his second album Don't Be Cruel. It took off at R&B and became Brown's second single to top that chart. The week it hit #1, the song debuted on the Pop chart. It took a while for it to catch on, but it finally peaked at #8 on the chart in its thirteenth week. Then is slowly descended spending an addition thirteen weeks on the chart. It was the crossover hit Brown had been looking for and it provided him with a big career boost.

ReduxReview:  It just took the right producers and the right song for Brown to break through and he got both via Reid and Babyface. Brown's first album was a bit of a mess that didn't give him a solo identity. Reid and Babyface tapped into what made Brown stand out from the other New Edition members and developed songs and a sound that fit his personality and his voice. This new jack track stood out on radio. It was different, catchy, and hard to resist. It fit Brown like a glove. He was not a great singer, but Reid and Babyface knew exactly how to navigate those waters and created something that elevated Brown. This track alone was far far better than anything on his debut LP. He was lucky to get hooked up with Reid and Babyface.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  One week after this song debuted on the Pop chart, Cheap Trick's remake of the Elvis Presley hit "Don't Be Cruel" got on the chart. This certainly wasn't the first time that two different songs with the same title have charted either separately or together. In 1986, Nu Shooz and Stevie Nicks were on the Pop chart at the same time with different songs both titled "I Can't Wait." However, the tunes by Cheap Trick and Bobby Brown would set an odd record. Cheap Trick's single would leap frog over Brown's track and reach the Top 10 in its ninth week. By the time it peaked at #4, Brown's song would crack the Top 10 at its peak position of #8. The the following week, the two songs would be back-to-back at #8 and #89. The pair of "Don't Be Cruel" hits made it the first, and thus far only time, that two songs with the same name by different artists were in the Pop Top 10 at the same time - and for a week in consecutive positions.


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