Saturday, March 11, 2023

"Baby Come to Me" by Regina Belle

Song#:  4072
Date:  10/14/1989
Debut:  80
Peak:  60
Weeks:  9
Genre:  R&B

Pop Bits:  Belle's '87 debut album All By Myself was a modest success getting to #14 R&B and #85 Pop. It contained the #2 R&B/#68 Pop hit "Show Me the Way" along with two other R&B Top 20 singles. The results were encouraging so Belle's label, Columbia, hooked her up with some top tier producers and songwriters for a few tracks on her second album Stay with Me. The first single released from the album was Diane Warren-penned "All I Want Is Forever," which featured Kool & the Gang lead vocalist J.T. Taylor. The song would become a hit at R&B getting to #2 while reaching #34 AC. Unfortunately, it did not make the Pop chart. However, this second single that was co-written and produced by Narada Michael Walden would do the trick. Although it would do mildly well on the Pop chart, the tune would become Belle's first to top the R&B chart. A second single, "Make It Like It Was," would do better on the Pop chart getting to #43. That single would become Belle's second R&B #1. The LP would generate two more R&B Top 10s. The streak of singles helped the album reach #1 R&B/#63 Pop and go gold.

ReduxReview:  Since this was written by Narada Michael Walden and Jeffery Cohen, it should not be confused with the same titled 1982 #1 hit by Patti Austin and James Ingram. However, Belle's track does have a similar, sleek soul sound to the Austin single. Unfortunately, it didn't work out quite as well for Belle. Although the song got to #1 at R&B, its more soulful sound didn't quite catch fire at pop radio and it stalled shy of the halfway mark. The sophisticated tune leaned towards Anita Baker territory and it featured a terrific vocal turn from Belle. She definitely had the goods and it was a shame she didn't break into the mainstream more. However, I don't think she got hooked up with a couple of surefire crossover hits and that left her lingering in the middle area of the Pop chart. Despite that, Belle was still able to earn seven R&B Top 10s (including two #1s), and a pair of gold albums along with one major Grammy/Oscar winning Disney hit (see below).

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  In 1992, Belle would score the biggest hit of her career. She got the opportunity to record the duet "A Whole New World" with Peabo Bryson. The song was featured in Disney's animated version of Aladdin. In the film, the tune was sung by vocalists Brad Kane and Lea Salonga. However, for the soundtrack album and to help promote the movie/song, a single version was recorded with Belle and Bryson. Thanks to the film being a big success, the single took off and would get to #1 Pop/#1 AC/#21 R&B. It would become a gold seller. The song was the first from a Disney animated film to reach #1 on the Pop chart. It would also go on to win the Oscar for Best Original Song and the Grammy for Song of the Year. Belle would include the song on her third album, '93's Passion. The first official single from that LP, "If I Could," would get to #9 R&B/#12 AC/#52 Pop. The album would top out at #13 R&B/#63 Pop and go gold. Belle's career would quickly taper off after her fourth LP, a covers effort, couldn't match the success of her previous two gold sellers. Belle would continue to record and perform over the years and along the way grab a few mid-charting R&B singles.


Friday, March 10, 2023

"Pump Up the Jam" by Technotronic

Top 10 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  4071
Date:  10/14/1989
Debut:  86
Peak:  2
Weeks:  24
Genre:  House, Dance, Hip Hop

Pop Bits:  This Belgian electronic music outfit seemed to continuously evolved during their existence, but at the heart was always musician Jo Bogaert. Bogaert played with several bands in Belgium and worked on various projects, but nothing would hit far beyond the borders of his home country. Bogaert had his sights set on conquering the US and with a couple of his dance tracks getting some attention there, he figured that was the way to go. Bogaert would use an instrumental single he released under the name The Pro 24's titled "Technotronic" as the basis for a new track. He would bring on board to the project hip hop artist Manuela Kamosi, aka Ya Kid K, and she would provide lyrics and vocals on the new tune. From there, the new project would be called Technotronic and the track titled "Pump Up the Jam." For the project Bogaert would go by the alias Thomas De Quincey. The tune would be picked up for international release, but there was a slight issue. Ya Kid K was busy with her own projects and didn't want to do promo for the song or appear in the video. Therefore, in a Black Box/Milli Vanilli sort of way, Congolese model Felly Kilingi, was hired to be the face of the project. She would lip sync in the video and her image would appear on the record sleeve. Upon release, the single would take off hitting #1 in many countries. In the US, the track would easily top the Dance chart. It would then catch on at other formats finally getting to #10 R&B and #2 Pop. The single would sell well and go platinum. As the song shaped up to be a major hit, Bogaert was then given the green light to assemble a debut LP. Pump Up the Jam: The Album would soon follow. It would reach #10 and go platinum.

ReduxReview:  This track is often considered the first in the house music genre to become a Top 10 hit. It was certainly infectious and fun. There wasn't really anything like it on the radio at the time so it stood out. House music in its various forms had been around for a long time, but the mainstream didn't really catch on until this single came along. It was the right song at the right time. Usually projects like this end up being one-hit wonders, but the group was able to grab two more Pop Top 10s. I liked this song and bought the single, however, I didn't become a big fan of house music. It often became repetitive and similar sounding and I lost interest. However, this remains a fun track that helped house music reach a new level. This post comes not too long after I watched the British mockumentary series Cunk on Earth, which featured Diane Morgan playing investigative reporter Philomena Cunk. A running gag in the hilarious show was including this song and a part of its video in each episode. I'll now forever associate this song with Cunk.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  When the album was released, it was followed by a second single, "Get Up! (Before the Night Is Over)." It would end up being a gold selling #7 Pop/#2 Dance/#27 R&B hit. By the time that song was ready for release, the ploy about using Felly as the project's face was uncovered and so going forward, Ya Kid K would then rightfully be put in the spotlight. Two further singles would be released from the album that performed less well. Bogaert would then need to record a follow up album. For that effort, the personnel had significantly changed with Ya Kid K taking off for a solo career. Bogaert then began to collaborate with Réjane "Reggie" Magloire and they would come up with the majority of tracks on '91's Body to Body. Singles from the album failed to chart and the album disappeared quickly. However, Technotronic would earn one last hit. In '92, a track from the group's debut album, "Move This," would get picked up and used in a Revlon commercial. Its use sparked enough interest in the song that it was issued out as a single in a new mix. It would end up getting to #6 Pop. The renewed success led to Technotronic recording a third album, '95's Recall. Ya Kid K would return for the effort. The LP would not chart, however it did contain the #3 Dance hit "Move to the Rhythm" (#83 Pop). After that, only a few singles would be issued out over the years under the Technotronic moniker.


Thursday, March 9, 2023

"Everything" by Jody Watley

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4070
Date:  10/14/1989
Debut:  92
Peak:  4
Weeks:  23
Genre:  R&B, Pop

Pop Bits:  Watley's '87 self-titled debut album was a #10 platinum seller that spawned three Pop Top 10 hits. Her second album, Larger Than Life, would also have the same success with its singles when this third one from the LP cracked the Top 10. The ballad would also get to #3 R&B and #11 AC. Yet even though the album matched her debut's trio of Pop Top 10 hits, the LP didn't sell as well. It would peak at #16 and only go gold. A fourth single would be released to try and help get the LP into platinum territory, but that didn't happen with "Precious Love" faltering and only get to #51 R&B/#87 Pop.

ReduxReview:  Watley and her collaborator (and future husband) André Cymone co-wrote nearly all the songs on the album. This single was the lone exception. It was written by Gardner Cole and James Newton Howard. It was a good selection for Watley. With her biggest hits all uptempo dance tracks, this was a refreshing change of pace. It was a nicely written tune that was well produced by Cymone. Watley sounded comfortable and provided a nice vocal. This one has sort of slipped through the cracks over the years, but it just as worthy of airplay as her other hits.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Watley would try to regain her audience with her third album, '91's Affairs of the Heart. Its first single, "I Want You," would get to #5 R&B and #17 Dance, but could only reach #61 at Pop. A second single, "I'm the One You Need," would become Watley's final Pop Top 40 hit getting to #19 (#3 Dance/#23 R&B). The album would get to #21 R&B, but stall low on the Pop chart at #124. Her 1993 album Intimacy wouldn't fare any better even though it would feature a pair of Dance Top 10s. Watley would continue to record over the years and earn a few Top 10s on the Dance chart. In 2005, she would re-record her '87 #2 hit "Looking for a New Love." Released as a single with "'05" added to the title, the new version would reach #1 on the Dance chart. It has been reported that this made Watley the first artist to take the same song to #1 on the Dance chart in two different decades.


Wednesday, March 8, 2023

"If You Leave Me Now" by Jaya

Song#:  4069
Date:  10/14/1989
Debut:  94
Peak:  44
Weeks:  26
Genre:  Freestyle

Pop Bits:  Maria Luisa Ramsey was born in the Philippines and spent the majority of her younger life there. Her parents separated when she was a young child. Maria's mother, Elizabeth, was an entertainer and by the age of 10, Maria was performing in her mom's shows. Then before she was a teenager, Maria started doing background vocals for other artists and eventually began performing solo. The pair would make a move to the US in '85 and while attending school Maria would get work backing up Filipino artists that were performing in the L.A. area. After graduating high school, Maria took off for NYC and landed a job as a background vocalist for freestyle artist Stevie B. He took an interest in Maria and got her a record deal with his label LMR. Around this time, she would get a new name - Jaya. Stevie B would produce and co-write this debut single that was released in the fall of '89. The track would gain enough attention to get on the Pop chart. It then made a long slow climb upward until finally peaking at #44. The single would spend a lengthy 26 weeks on the chart, which was highly unusual for a tune that peaked outside of the Top 40. Its extended stay on the chart was due to the song catching on in various markets at different times. As it would peak in certain cities, the tune was getting traction in other areas. With the single doing well, Jaya was given the go-ahead for assembling a debut album. Stevie B would product and co-write most of the tracks for a self-titled debut. A second single, "One Kiss Per Minute," would get to #24 at Dance, but would fail to make the Pop chart. A third single didn't chart at all. With those results, the album was unable to chart. After a one-off single in '93 failed to do anything, Jaya's US recording career came to an end.

ReduxReview:  This was right in line with other Stevie B tracks. A good freestyle jam with a hooky chorus. It was nothing that was going to become a major mainstream hit, but it was something that would please fans of freestyle. Stevie B also took a bit of liberty in showcasing his voice in the last part of the song, so that was a bit of a promotional push for both him and Jaya. Further singles didn't excite listeners and Jaya promptly disappeared. Oddly, that may have been fortunate as she ended up doing very well back home (see below).

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  While her singing career in the US was short-lived, Jaya would become highly successful back home. In 1995, she got the opportunity to return to the Philippines to record an album. Released in the summer of '96, her second self-titled album would become a huge hit. It would go 9x platinum and become the biggest selling album by a female artist in the Philippines; a record she would hold until 1999. The LP is still ranked in the Top 10 of the biggest selling LPs of all time in the Philippines. Jaya's third album, 1997's In the Raw, would also be a major hit going 5x platinum. The success of the two albums made Jaya a huge star and she would go on to win eight Awit Awards (the sort of Grammys of the Philippines). Jaya would continue to record albums while also branching out to hosting several TV shows and even acting in a comedy/drama/musical series.


Tuesday, March 7, 2023

"Angelia" by Richard Marx

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  4068
Date:  10/07/1989
Debut:  52
Peak:  4
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Soft Rock

Pop Bits:  Marx scored a career best hit with "Right Here Waiting," the second single from his #1 album Repeat Offender. It would spend three weeks at #1 on the Pop chart while also hitting that mark at AC. It was his third consecutive Pop #1. To follow it up, this mid-tempo ballad was issued out. It would do well at AC reaching #2. On the Pop chart, it would miss out on the top spot, but would become Marx's seventh consecutive Top 10. By this point in time, the LP had hit the triple-platinum sales mark.

ReduxReview:  I barely remember this song. I'm sure it must have been played a lot in my area, but I guess it didn't make much of an impression on me. His next two singles (see below) I didn't remember at all. So I guess you could say I wasn't much of a Marx fan. Still, these three songs didn't have the staying power of Marx's previous hits. While capably written and recorded, the tracks just weren't as memorable. I did pay attention to his '91 hit "Hazard" as it was something different and interesting. The tune had a sort of Southern gothic feel to it along the lines of Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe." Other than that, Marx stayed off my radar. He had a great run of hit singles, but like most all artists, it couldn't last and by the mid-90s his heydays on the Pop chart were over.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  Two more singles would be released from Repeat Offender and both would make the Pop Top 20. "Too Late to Say Goodbye" would get to #12 while "Children of the Night" would top out at #13. Eventually, the album would reach the 4 million sales mark. Marx's career would begin to slow down in the 90s. His next album, '91's Rush Street would stop at #35, but would go platinum thanks in part to the mysterious hit "Hazard" (#9 Pop/#1 AC) and "Keep Coming Back," which spent four weeks at #1 on the AC chart (#12 Pop). His next album, '94's Paid Vacation (#37, platinum) would feature Marx's last Pop Top 10 with the #7 "Now and Forever" (#1 AC). The hits would dwindle after that and further albums failed to even reach gold level sales. Still, Marx continued to record and tour/perform over the years in addition to writing and producing for other artists. In 2004, Marx would win his first Grammy. He co-wrote "Dance with My Father" with R&B star Luther Vandross. It would be released as a single and do modestly well getting to #4 AC/#38 Pop/#28 R&B. However, Grammy voters loved the tune and awarded it Song of the Year. Vandross also won the award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male, for his recording.


Monday, March 6, 2023

"Blame It on the Rain" by Milli Vanilli

#1 Alert!
Platinum Record Alert!
Song#:  4067
Date:  10/07/1989
Debut:  65
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  23
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Milli Vanilli were definitely on a hot streak. Their debut album Girl You Know It's True had just spent a couple weeks at #1 in September of '89 and the previous two singles from the LP had also topped the Pop chart and gone gold. It seemed like things couldn't get any better, but then this fourth single was issued out. It would catch on quickly and become the duo's third straight #1 on the Pop chart. It also topped out at #14 R&B and #27 AC. It sold well enough to become their second platinum single. The hit drove sales of the album and it would return to the #1 spot in November where it would stay for an additional five non-consecutive weeks. As 1990 began, the LP would reach the 6 million sales mark. It seemed the duo were unstoppable, but it ended up they a very big, bad way.

ReduxReview:  By this point in time, I really didn't care for Milli Vanilli. While I liked "Girl You Know It's True," their next two singles didn't do it for me at all and I proceeded to ignore the duo. So when this single came out, I didn't give it much attention. However, listening to it now I can hear that it was a nicely penned track from Warren (see below). The mid-tempo tune has a nice feel and features a solid, catchy chorus. Now, why Warren put in that quirky key change in the pre-chorus I do not know. When first listening to the song it kind of threw me for a loop and made my ears twitch. It was like - where the hell is this tune going? Then on later listens, it became a twisty part that I kind of look forward to and when it happens I have to chuckle a bit. Odd changes like that are not really common in big pop hits but leave it to Warren to toss a curve ball. I also don't mind Farian's production on the track. It fit the song well for the time period. Is it something I want to keep hearing? No. But I can listen to it differently now and appreciate Warren's work.

ReduxRating:  6/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Diane Warren who had been on a hot streak since hitting #1 for the first time with Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now." She would hit a milestone and set a record when this Milli Vanilli track topped the chart. The two weeks prior, the #1 song was "When I See You Smile" by Bad English, which was written by Warren. So when "Blame it on the Rain" replaced that song at the top of the Pop chart, Warren became the first female songwriter to have two consecutive #1s on the chart. Warren's hit streak would continue well into the 90s and as of this posting date she has amassed a whopping 32 Pop Top 10 hits including 9 #1s. Milli Vanilli ended up with this song by chance. Warren had written the tune for The Jets, but they ended up turning down the song. Warren then took the tune to Arista's Clive Davis. Davis had just signed Milli Vanilli for US distribution and along with that came certain demands from Davis. Instead of just releasing MV's European debut album All or Nothing as it was, Davis wanted to repackage it and include two new tracks. One was a remake of The Isley Brothers' 1969 #2 Pop/#1 R&B hit "It's Your Thing." The other was this Diane Warren track that she had just submitted. Producer and Milli Vanilli creator Frank Farian acquiesced and the two tunes were included on the duo's US debut album Girl You Know It's True. Through Davis, Warren earned her fourth #1 Pop hit when "Blame It on the Rain" got issued out.