Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’90s, Vol. 15
With Bottom Feeders we take a look at the songs on the Billboard Hot 100 that Casey Kasem never got to announce. It’s an A-Z look at songs that charted no higher than #41 in the decade. Take a listen, enjoy and comment. And don’t forget, information on the top 40, airplay and bubbling under charts are on pages 2-4.
Section 1: The Ass End
“Bad Love” 1990, #88 (5 weeks) (download)
Journeyman was seen as a return to form for Clapton in 1989 but only two songs charted, “Pretending” and this tune which featured Phil Collins on backing vocals. Co-written by Mick Jones of Foreigner, he won a Grammy for best Rock Male Vocal on this one. Pickings must have been slim.
1998 was around the point when country singer Terri Clark came into her own with the singles above, her first #1 country hit, “You’re Easy On the Eyes” and third album, How I Feel. Over her career she’s had 22 songs on the country chart with only two hitting the #1 slot. And I say “only” because again, everything hits #1 on the country chart for a week it seems.
“It’s Alright” 1992, #68 (14 weeks) (download)
“It’s Alright” was released on the label, Hollywood Basic, which ends up being a perfect way to describe Classic Example. A five-piece group out of Boston had their one shot at fame with this track from the movie South Central. Neither terrible nor very good, it truly is a very basic song. And I’ve always found it kind of odd with songs like this, which featured the Boys on background vocals. There are already five members in the group, why did they need to bring four more people in to do backgrounds. Was there no one in the group good enough to pull it off?
“Life Ain’t Easy” 1998, #81 (5 weeks) (download)
Cleopatra was one of those completely random late ‘90s early ‘00s signings by Maverick records which seriously had to be the worse label to promote a new artist. Maybe Madonna’s label signed them because the lead singer was named Cleopatra Madonna. “Life Ain’t Easy” is one of the few songs even listenable on the English trio’s debut, Comin’ Atcha!. “Cleopatra’s Theme” somehow hit the top 40 even though it’s simply a horrible tune.
“Hurricane” 1995, #63 (13 weeks) (download)
Although there’s no way this is a worse song than Chuckebutt gave us last week, I still can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous this song is. E-40, D-Shot, Suga T. and B-Legit had some shots thanks to hype around E-40 himself but this “hurricane/slurricane” crap was the best tune the group could come up with.
“Hurricane / but you can call me sluricane / sluricane / strong enough to start an engine main.” Ha. That’s just fucking ridiculous.
Holy shit, these two singles were released only four months apart and yet sound like two different groups. The group consisted of Swedish producer Jan Ekholm, English drummer Morgan King and vocalist Zemya Hamilton. “Hold On” went to number one on the dance charts, while “Set Me Free” peaked at #2. I prefer the mellower dance flavor of the latter over the former’s club feel. The spoken “She’s Lying” under Hamilton’s vocals in “Set Me Free” is a neat little touch on the tune.
“Much Better” 1998, #95 (3 weeks) (download)
Here’s a great dance tune from a producer just starting out named Peter Rauhofer. Since Club 69, he’s gone on to remix artists like Madonna (which he told me was “every remixer’s dream”), Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Beyonce just to name a few. He also won a Grammy in 2000 for remixer of the year. Since Rauhofer made music for the clubs I asked him if “Much Better” hitting the Hot 100 was even a big deal for him and he said “the big hit was “Let Me Be Your Underwear.” “Much Better” wasn’t nearly as successful.”
He hasn’t forgotten his Club 69 days as his new company is called Star 69 as a part of a tie in to his previous work.
“What If I Said” 1998, #59 (15 weeks) (download)
Why did all country songs seem to be released as singles in the ’90s? Country needed some airplay only tunes too, as I’m already tired of addressing cheesy tunes like this one and we’re only in the mid Cs. This duet between Cochran and Steve Wariner is right at the pinnacle of the stinky Limburger.
“Washed Away” 1992, #88 (4 weeks) (download)
I may never say this again but right now I wish I was in Canada. When I tell you that to this day I still love both “Life Is A Highway” and the amazing album Mad Mad World, I will have effectively destroyed any credibility that I still have. If I lived in say, Ontario though, I could say that and totally get away with it since Cochrane is in the Canadian Hall of Fame.
I could try to make a case for the stunning pop sensibilities of the album or the instant catchiness of most of the tunes on it but then someone would inevitably bring up that those posers in Rascal Flatts covered “Life Is A Highway” poorly a few years ago. But all you people out there right now that laugh at the thought of Tom Cochrane, I want to see the video of you singing along to the hit at your Christmas party in 1992. Take that, suckas.
“What Are You Doing With A Fool Like Me” 1990, #96 (1 weeks) (download)
This was Cocker’s final Hot 100 hit, 22 years after his first. It was the first single off the 1990 album Joe Cocker Live but wasn’t a live track. Joe’s released nine albums since that point, most of them not seeing a US release until long after it was released in the UK and Germany where he still charts songs. In fact, his latest album (Hard Knocks) was released in 2010 in Europe and didn’t get a release here until this January. In this day of digital downloads, something like this still seems a bit silly to me.
Marc Cohn’s self titled debut is a true masterpiece of a record. Led by “Walking in Memphis,” the first of six singles from the album, it earned him the Grammy award in 1991 for best new artist. To me, he was always a mellower version of Bruce Hornsby and if he put out the record in 1988 instead, he probably would have been able to play his sound out over the course of at least a few more records. Instead, the first single off his 1993 follow up (The Rainy Season) stalled on the bubbling under charts and AC charts and Cohn really never made another hit song.
I actually remember going into work on August 8th, 2005 and reading about how he had been shot in the head in an attempted car-jacking. It’s kind of funny that I can barely remember what I ate this morning but this story about a guy that hadn’t been on my radar in over a decade does.
“Silver Thunderbird” gets put on the list for best song of this series.
“Sunshine” 1999, #70 (12 weeks) (download)
Coko was the lead singer of SWV. After the group broke up, she released her first solo record (Hot Coko) in 1999 which featured “Sunshine” which was just as good, if not better than most of SWV’s material. It wasn’t a success though and the second album got shelved. She then married a gospel producer and in 2006 started releasing gospel albums.
The three songs here provide a great example of the variety of sounds of Mr. Cole. “House Full of Reasons” has a late ‘80s Squeeze feel, “Start the Car” sounds more like a Bryan Adams tune and “Tell the Truth” was more adult contemporary-ish. He’s released five studio records, scored three of Keifer Sutherland’s movies and is the guy responsible for inflicting Lifehouse on the world (he’s their manager).
“A Smile Like Yours” 1997, #84 (5 weeks) (download)
After releasing “Unforgettable” in 1991 there was very little chart action for Natalie Cole. She switched directions and released jazz standards and Christmas records for much of the remainder of the decade and actually is still doing so today.
“Happy With You” 1997, #78 (5 weeks) (download)
I’d bet there aren’t many singers in the world that can say they got their start on MTV’s The Grind, right? But the shirtless Eric Nies dance show was where she had her first performance and from that got signed to Universal Records. It ain’t Ryan Seacrest and Simon Cowell but whatever works.