Today’s playlist is inspired by the February 11 birthdays of Sheryl Crow, D’Angelo, First Choice’s Rochelle Fleming, Gene Vincent, Brandy, Sergio Mendes, Bobby Pickett, Leon Haywood, City Girls’ Yung Miami, and Gerry Goffin (former songwriting partner and husband of Carole King).
Tag Archives: Brandy
The most popular r&b group of the nineties was probably Boyz II Mej3y64t.,huy
Sorry. My head hit the keyboard. Just typing that group’s name puts me to sleep. I find their music devoid of personality, emphasizing vocal histrionics over soul-felt passion. They should call themselves Boyz II Meh! Am I right, people? Tip your waitstaff.
Much of nineties r&b suffers from the same. Technique over feeling. Not all, though. I’m not damning a whole genre with a wide paintbrush, or whatever that expression is.
Today’s playlist showcases twenty of the best r&b hits from last millennium’s last decade, the decade being 1990 to 1999, for the purposes of this post. Nothing obscure this time. All of these songs received a fair amount of airplay back in the day.
If I missed any of your favorites, let me know in the comments section, unless it’s a song by Boyz II Mebg;hev.
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Your knees start shakin’ and your fingers pop
Like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock
I think I read somewhere that there is a new Star Trek movie opening this weekend, or sometime soon. I didn’t pay too much attention. I’ve never seen any Star Trek movie, nor have I seen any episode of the TV show Star Trek, or any of its offshoots.
I saw part of one episode from the original series. Joan Collins was a guest star. I watched when she was on screen; I changed the channel when she wasn’t. That small fact told my friend Laura’s brother more about me than I knew about myself at that time.
I don’t know what Star Trek is about. I know there’s a spaceship called the Enterprise, and that’s about it. I don’t know when the show takes place. I don’t know the characters’ personality types or if they all get along or if any of them hook up.
I’ve heard William Shatner recite the lyrics to “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Space Oddity” and other songs that were classics until the moment I heard Bill do ‘em. I’ve heard Leonard Nimoy “sing” a song about Hobbits (don’t get me started on my lack of knowledge about Hobbits! I’m not even sure the word Hobbits should be capitalized.). Those recordings weren’t enough to entice me into checking out the work that made those guys famous.
I’m also familiar with the song “Star Trekkin’” by a group called The Firm, not to be confused with the Jimmy Page band The Firm, though equally awful. “Star Trekkin’” went to #1 on the UK singles chart in 1987, and by doing so removed the bragging rights of anyone else who hit #1 on the UK singles chart. “Oh, you had a #1 UK single, Nicole Scherzinger? You know what else was a #1 UK single? ‘Star Trekkin”’.”
William Shatner was on another television show somewhat recently. I don’t recall what it was. I think it was set in a courtroom or a law office. I never watched it.
I don’t know if Leonard Nimoy did anything after the Star Trek TV series.
Though I don’t know from and couldn’t care any less about Star Trek, I do recognize some Star Trek references in pop culture, like in the lyrics that opened this post, which are from Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic,” one of 1998’s best singles and the song that kicks off Tunes du Jour’s 1998 playlist on this Throwback Thursday. I take it when Mr. Spock touches someone’s neck, their knees shake and their fingers pop, like mine do when I listen to Beastie Boys. Let’s get poppin’!
The first time I saw Chaka Khan in person was in concert in the mid-1980s at the Westbury Music Fair, which was not a music fair but the name of a theater. Her career was at its commercial height, with her cover of Prince’s “I Feel For You” becoming her twelfth top 40 pop hit in 1984. Like her 1974 single with Rufus, the Stevie Wonder-penned “Tell Me Something Good,” it peaked at #3. “I Feel for You” stayed on the Hot 100 for a full six months, longer than any of her prior singles.
The second time I saw Chaka Khan in person was in the early 1990s. I was working in the Accounting department at Sony Music. I took the elevator down from my 11th floor office to the building sky lobby, headed out for I don’t know what. As I turned the corner of the elevator bank I saw that hair. Chaka Khan was a few feet in front of me. I’m not often star struck, but CHAKA KHAN!!! I didn’t see with whom she was speaking until he said “Glenn, come over.” It was the Vice President of Urban Music for Epic Records, one of Sony’s labels. I was friendly with him through working on his expense account.
“Glenn, Chaka Khan. Chaka Khan, Glenn Schwartz.”
“Hi,” said Chaka Khan.
“You are the ultimate sex goddess of life,” I replied. Inappropriate? Perhaps, but true. This was CHAKA KHAN, a woman on whom I’ve had a crush since “Tell Me Something Good” was a hit.
“Thanks,” she said, which was code for “I need to leave now.”
In 2005 I was the Vice President of Licensing at Warner Music, the record company that controls most of Chaka’s solo work. I attended a benefit for The Chaka Khan Foundation, a charity the singer founded that through grants, scholarships and educational outreach programs assists women and children at risk. It was held in the backyard of someone’s Beverly Hills residence. As we got hors d’oeuvres and mingled, Kenny G walked around tooting his horn (literally). We were seated for dinner and then treated to a mini concert from Chaka. “I’m Every Woman,” “Ain’t Nobody” and a few others, all in the intimate setting of a backyard. Wow. CHAKA KHAN!!! This time I didn’t approach her – what if she remembered me and what I said the last time we met? Quelle embarrassment!
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Today’s playlist consists of songs that were #1 in Glenn’s Ten, the weekly tally of my favorite current songs, on this date going back to 1981, the year I started tracking such things (click here for more background).
My #1 on March 3, 1981 was Don McLean’s cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” My #1 this week is Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” It took me thirty-three years to go from “Crying” to “Happy.”
In 1981 I was a shy, skinny high school student who felt like he didn’t belong. I wished I was more popular but hard as I tried, I just wasn’t cool.
I worked to better myself. Gaining weight was a challenge, as was overcoming my shyness. To achieve the latter I ultimately turned to stand-up comedy. Getting up on stage in front of a group of strangers to express my thoughts was what I needed. It gave me confidence and got me an agent and positive reviews in publications including Backstage.
To gain weight I ate a banana split every night right before bed. I didn’t put on any pounds, but I did develop lactose-intolerance.
Eventually my metabolism slowed down and I filled out.
I also became successful in corporate America, most recently as the Vice President of Licensing at Warner Music Group. That shy, introverted kid made something of himself.
In retrospect, I’ve been cool this whole time. Perhaps my fellow high school students didn’t think so, but what did they know? I’m going to rely on the impressions of 16 year-olds as to my coolness? It takes more guts to be a non-conformist. I learned to love myself as I am.
Loving yourself is the subject of a few #1 songs of this date. There’s 1991’s “I Touch Myself” by Divinyls, but that’s not the self-love to which I refer. Lady Gaga’s self-empowerment anthem “Born This Way” topped my chart for several weeks n 2011. Madonna, Gaga’s spiritual predecessor, sang “You’re frozen when your heart’s not open” in 1998.
It’s now 2014. I’m unemployed for the first time since graduating college. I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been. I am confident. I feel positive and energized about my future. If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am…happy.
Here is the chronological soundtrack of my March 3 journey from “Crying” to “Happy,” with videoclips for the two entries not available on Spotify.