Thursday, December 23, 2021

"You Make Me Work" by Cameo

Song#:  3710
Date:  11/05/1988
Debut:  89
Peak:  85
Weeks:  5
Genre:  R&B, Electro-Funk

Pop Bits:  Cameo had been highly successful in the R&B market since the late 70s. Between 1979 and 1985, the band amassed seven gold selling albums that spawned six R&B Top 10 hits. Yet during that time period, the only song of theirs to reach the Pop chart was the #47 "She's Strange." Finally, they had a major mainstream breakthrough with "Word Up," the first single from their '86 album of the same name. It would get to #6 Pop/#1 R&B/#1 Dance while the album would be a #8 Pop/#1 R&B platinum seller. That success set the band up well for their next album, Machismo. Looking to replicate or even best the results of their previous LP, they kicked things off with this lead single. The song would do well at R&B reaching #4, but it failed to retain the mainstream audience gained from their previous album and stalled low on the Pop chart. It would also get to a minor #45 at Dance. With that result, the LP would scrape the R&B Top 10 at #10 while only reaching #56 Pop. A second single, "Skin I'm In," would get to #5 R&B, but fail to reach the Pop chart. The pair of R&B Top 10s would help the album go gold, but it was a definite decline from their previous platinum success.

ReduxReview:  The problem here is that lead singer/songwriter Larry Blackmon just basically dished out "Word Up, Pt. 2." The opening with its beat and horn line immediately recalled "Word Up" and it didn't help that Blackmon's vocal delivery was nearly the same. It was as if Blackmon thought - hey, it worked once, why not try it again? Unfortunately, it didn't really work out the second time around. A more mainstream audience wasn't looking for a "Word Up" copy and the single was nearly a non-starter at Pop. Whether it was pressure from the label or from having a huge hit, Blackmon didn't really bring his A-game to Machismo. In fact, the third single "Pretty Girls" (#52 R&B) was another "Word Up" close with a nearly identical verse, which certainly didn't help its prospects. The LP had a couple of good tunes, but none were going to keep Cameo in the Pop limelight.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  After Machismo, the band's fortunes quickly dwindled. They would earn one last R&B Top 10 with the 1990 #5 "I Want It Now" with their next three albums missing the R&B Top 10 and failing to go gold. They would then go on hiatus for a few years before returning with a new album in 2000. A little exposure came their way in 2001 when a sample of their 1986 hit "Candy" was used for the Mariah Carey song "Loverboy." In addition to the sample, Cameo would also provide some backing vocals on the track. It would be released as the first single from Carey's soundtrack to her movie Glitter. The tune would make it to #2 Pop/#1 R&B. While their appearance on the track gave the band a little boost, they didn't capitalize on it and found themselves back on hiatus. Later in 2016, they would spend a year performing in Vegas and have done tours since then.


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