Section 1: The Ass End
“As We Lay” 1997, #59 (11 weeks) (download)
An R&B tune or a dance song? That’s the question of the moment for Dana and “As We Lay.” I don’t know why Dana Harris thought she could get away with just going with the one name moniker especially when it’s so damn generic but she got her one taste of quick fame in doing so. Released on Tony Mercedes records, this has such a basic beat that it’s hard to put this anywhere above the mediocrity line but Dana did have a decent voice. Now I’ll leave it up to Nasty G to inform me if she’s done anything since this point.
Looking back, I see that I totally took the wrong approach to scoring while I was in college. I listened to the Breeders and Sheryl Crow to get that kind of woman, which I now realize wasn’t my type at all. What I should have been listening to was D’Angelo. I suppose I thought that the girl would just be dreaming about running their hands down that six pack of his and wouldn’t like me. But face it, D’Angelo had everything that made women swoon. And now that I’m married and can look with a critical eye, he might be one of the best R&B artists ever. Why he didn’t have a bigger career is a mystery to me.
“Bang Bang” 1990, #49 (13 weeks) (download)
On the other hand, it’s quite obvious why Danger Danger didn’t have a bigger career. Not jumping onto the hair metal bandwagon until 1989 really didn’t help them. But being lame was really the major reason. I don’t know that I ever heard “Bang Bang” on the airwaves, rather the title track, “Danger Danger.” Suck suck.
“Mother” 1994, #43 (15 weeks) (download)
Of all the songs so far that I’ve wondered how in the world they didn’t chart higher, this might be the first one that I’m truly surprised charted at all. I’m a huge Danzig fan, but even I wonder what radio stations played this to get it all the way to #43. Even the video wasn’t anything too special, so maybe Glenn Danzig gave the devil another part of his soul for this one.
Interestingly enough, most people refer to the version they see as track #7 on Thrall: Demonsweatlive as the charting version. But that was a live cut that was the B-Side to the single, which was a hidden track numbered 93 on the disc. But the hidden track was only put on the disc starting with the fourth pressing, so anyone with an early copy of it, doesn’t have the version that was popular.
Terence Trent D’Arby
“Delicate” 1993, #74 (8 weeks) (download)
Terence Trent D’Arby’s 3rd record (Symphony or Damn) has to be one of the most underrated records of the decade. Critics loved it but D’Arby only had one charting single from it and has somewhat faded into oblivion. “Delicate” featuring Des’ree was the centerpiece to a record that featured a lot of rock and soulful tunes which some compared to what Prince did with Sign O’ the Times. Keeping in line with the Prince comparison, he changed his name in 2001 to Sananda Maitreya in an attempt to break free from the record industry that held him back. I don’t believe he wrote “slave” on his face though. Prince 1, D’Arby 0.
Most fans of rap in the ‘90s know the tunes off Das EFX’s debut, Dead Serious. “Mic Checka” and especially “They Want EFX” as well as guesting on “Check Yo Self” by Ice Cube was what put them on the map. Each consecutive album after that point sold less copies and got less critical acclaim. A song like “Microphone Master” tells you all you need to know about their fall from grace. Das EFX’s rhymes were spit at a furious pace with lots of gibberish and words that end in “-iggity” and while there’s a few “riggedy rock’s” in the tune, the style was scaled back and thus they sound very much like any other rap group at that point.
Before I hit play on “So Good” the name Davina really didn’t ring a bell but I ended up knowing both songs anyway. Both come from her one and only record, Best of Both Worlds. “So Good” had a little more staying power since it was used as the theme song to the Laurence Fishburne movie Hoodlum. The beat on the tune sounds a lot like the trip-hop sounds from the first Portishead album.
Tami Davis was just another generic R&B artist trying to capture the success of Toni Braxton with her sensual smokey voice. This was as close as she came.
“Send Me A Lover” 1993, #50 (14 weeks) (download)
Taylor Dayne essentially had a monstrous three year run from 1988-1990 with seven top ten hits including 1990’s “Love Will Lead You Back” which spent a week at the top of the charts and one other track in the top 20. By 1993’s Soul Dancing, her sound had already faded out and her record sales dipped. After that record she was released by Arista, took five years to release another record and then ten years until she released her 5th album (Satisfied) which has a close up of her face looking scary and plastic on the cover. Whoa now.
“Hip Hop Ride” 1994, #68 (9 weeks) (download)
Name check a bunch of rap artists and you have enough to get you a hit and maybe a chance to ride on their coattails for a minute or two. It doesn’t matter if you can’t actually write any lyrics and your flow is below average or anything. And shit, I loved this song back in the day. What the hell was I thinking?
“Superhero” 1998, #88 (3 weeks) (download)
Sing it with me, “Hmmm Bop a a-ya a-ya, hmmm bop a-o!” It seems like the letter C and D has brought with it quite a few songs I’d never heard before. This is one of them and while I do kind of like it, I don’t remotely get the chant thing they are doing there.
“Give You Want You Want (Fa Sure)” 1999, #71 (13 weeks) (download)
Although never a member of DeBarge the group, I will always have a soft spot for Chico and the rest of the family. Both him and his brother El, have made some shitty choices in their personal life but have spent the time in jail and reformed themselves. “Give You What You Want” was off his second post-incarceration record, The Game. The first record out of jail was the aptly titled Long Time No See. I’ve never heard his albums outside of the two in the ‘80s but based on this fantastic song, he definitely changed his sound with the times.
“Crazy” 1991, #73 (11 weeks) (download)
After being called out a few weeks ago for my mislabeling of European dance music, I’m not calling this Eurodance. I’m going to say this is Hip House. Am I right?
Anyway, Daisy Dee was a dutch singer and actress that had very minor success in her homebase of Curacao and later on in Germany, but “Crazy” was her only tune to crossover to the US charts.
“True Love” 1993, #56 (12 weeks) (download)
Yeah, that Kiki Dee (I mean, could there be other Kiki Dees?). After having some success in the ‘70s solo and having “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” go to #1 with Elton John in 1976, she didn’t hit the charts again until 1993 when she reunited with Sir Elton on his Duets record to lay to tape this Cole Porter tune made most famous by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly.