Bottom Feeders: The Ass End of the ’90s, Vol. 9
Bottom Feeders takes a look back at every song that hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but only if they didn’t crack the top 40. It’s not meant to be a comprehensive review of each tune or each artist, but rather my view of the music I grew up loving. It’s meant to bring back all the great and really crappy songs that have faded into oblivion over time for one reason or another And, the series is designed to get discussions going about the music. I don’t have expert knowledge of every song posted here but I want to hear from you with your memories of the tunes, comments about a artist or general thoughts.
Section 1: The Ass End
Okay, so Bone Thugs-N-Harmony have always been a little bit of a mystery to me and it’s not just because of a-lot-of-unnecessary-hyphens. First of all, I’ve never really understood the name. I get the thugs and harmony parts but I’ve never really understood what the words “Bone” “Thugs” and “Harmony” mean together. Maybe I’m just not street enough to know what “bone” really means in this context or maybe I’ve never listed to “Thuggish-Ruggish-Bone” that closely but it has always baffled me.
It’s also odd that on occasion either the group or some member of the group actually still have hits. After “1st of the Month” and “Tha Crossroads” I assumed they would fade into oblivion. But Krayzie Bone, Flesh-N-Bone, Layzie Bone, Chicken Bone, Knee Bone and the rest of the bone crew took their one trick of speedy rapping over mellow rhymes and parlayed it into a decent career.
According to Billboard they are the 45th biggest artist of the decade.
Exactly one position below the Bones are Bon Jovi at #46 for the decade.
Have I ever mentioned that for a few months in my early twenties I dated a girl that would cry with joy every time she heard, saw or probably even thought about Bon Jovi? Her entire house was filled with Bon Jovi material, from CDs to videos to posters etc.. It was more than a little odd. However, when you’re like 24 and single, sometimes bare boobs tend to mask psychotic obsessions with a music group. At least for a little while.
I’ve always liked Bon Jovi to an extent though tears have never come from my eyes. Their ‘80s material is classic, there’s no doubt about that. Some of their ‘90s and more recent singles are fantastic as well, but they haven’t made a good album since New Jersey in 1988.
They were still gargantuan in the ‘90s though as evidenced by the fact that they toured for years behind each record and only needed to release two in the decade, 1992’s Keep the Faith and 1995’s These Days. Their best song of the decade though was one of the new tracks on the greatest hits comp., Cross Road with “Always.”
“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” was the dreaded 4th single from Keep the Faith (actually, the dreaded 4th single seemed to be way more prevalent in the ‘80s) and two more singles were released after it that didn’t chart at all.
“Something For the Pain” and “Lie To Me” were on These Days and were released as a double A-Side single. “Lie To Me” is probably the better of the two singles and the best of the three here, though all of them kind of suck.
“Games” 1992, #68 (12 weeks) (download)
Booker was a better session keyboardist for Vanessa Williams back in the day and while “Games” made only a little dent on the chart, it was sampled later in the decade by Mark Morrison for “Return of the Mack,” so it has one thing going for it.
Just like the name would indicate, Born Jamericans were Notch (the singer) and Shine (the rapper/toaster), both born in the US to Jamaican parents. They released two records on Delicious Vinyl in the ‘90s, Kids from Foreign with include “Boom Shak-A-Tack” (curiously without a rap from Shaq) and Yardcore which included the cover/interpolation of Stevie Wonder’s “Send One Your Love.” Everything they released fit the mold of the ‘90s reggae hit to a T.
“Deeper” 1993, #65 (13 weeks) (download)
Billboard says Boss was a duo but all the reading I’ve done says this was simply Los Angeles rapper Lichelle Laws. She released one album called Born Gangstaz with about half the songs including “Deeper” produced by Def Jef, with Erik Sermon, Mc Serch and Jam Master Jay doing some other tracks. The album sold well but she never released a second record.
“I Need Your Love” 1994, #51 (10 weeks) (download)
In typical Boston fashion, 1994’s Walk On was their first album in eight years. Unfortunately not in typical Boston fashion it was a gargantuan piece of crap. Vocal duties were held down by Fran Cosmo on the album and then for the tour following it, both him and Brad Delp joined the band. I’d like to say no one gave a shit about them but the album reached #7 on the chart.
Did Wyclef say something about vaginas and pot pies in “Hip-Hopera?”
Rodney Price was a pretty significant dancehall performer and DJ in Jamaica and had his cup of tea on the Billboard charts when a mess of rappers joined him for his My Xperience record in 1996. “Hip-Hopera” featured the Fugees and probably should have been a bigger hit, while “Deadly Zone” came from the Blade soundtrack and featured Mobb Deep and someone named Rappin’ Noyd on it. His biggest moment though was when he guested on “Hey Baby” by Gwen Stefani in 2001.
Mr. Stardust didn’t exactly have much success in the ‘90s. Most of his work was critically panned and probably wasn’t that good in reality. I happen to really like Black Tie, White Noise and a little bit of Earthling though, but that’s about it.
“The Hearts Filthy Lesson” was an oddball off Outside, a concept record done with Brian Eno. Speaking of odd, “I’m Afraid of Americans” took an unusual path to bottom feeder land. The first time anyone heard the song was in Showgirls when it was “I’m Afraid of Animals” and then in a basic form on Earthling before being remixed by Trent Reznor. I have never heard the song on the radio but the video version was the NIN remix and the single release didn’t even have the original on it, so I assume the version you hear here is the charting one.
“Good Times With Bad Boys” 1993, #59 (9 weeks) (download)
I can’t possibly imagine how lame it was for me to be taking my 15 minute walk to my high-school listening to this on my discman, but I know I did. I mean, I was 17 and these four (originally 5) ladies were super hot. What’s a horny kid to do? I wonder if I was dancing on down the street as I did it? Glad there was no Youtube and smart phones back then. Their big hit was “That’s What Love Can Do” which actually is kind of catchy. “Good Times With Bad Boys” is actually the third single from record and gives us another sighting of Stock Aiken Waterman.
I may be a little biased since they guys were hometown boyz but during their hit making period I don’t think they did anything wrong. Nate, Mike, Shawn and Wanya were fantastic singers and wrote great songs (and chose some great songs written by other superstars as well). Both Cooleyhighharmony and II are masterpieces of the R&B genre leading them to be the 4th highest charting artist of the ‘90s according to Billboard.
Unfortunately, after their third studio record and a split with Motown, they dropped like they had bricks tied to their ankles. The songs weren’t quite as good, the hits didn’t come and lately they’ve been putting out cover records and are more a nostalgia act than anything else. But during the ‘90s, nothing could stop them.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” 1996, #42 (17 weeks) (download)
Info on the Braids is a little hard to come by. They were two ladies from Oakland and had just this one hit from the soundtrack to Jon Lovitz movie, High School High. If they released an album I can’t find traces of it. All I know is that if you are going to do a cover, this is how you do it. This is simply a fantastic version of the Queen smash.
“Higher Than Hope” 1991, #47 (10 weeks) (download)
Daryl Braithwaite was the lead singer of the Sherbs (or Sherbet in Australia) and had a much better career down under than he did in the states. “Higher Than Hope” was his only solo hit here, from his 3rd album, Rise.