The contestants: Christopher Cross is the undisputed king of ultra laid-back, early 1980s soft rock with songs a working-class man’s man could relate to, such as “Sailing.” Kris Kross were teenage rappers who in 1992 wore backwards overalls and with their hit “Jump” made slightly moving up and down a dance craze.
But which one of these acts, Christopher Cross, or Kris Kross, is better? Why do we need to know? Because they have similar names. Really, that’s it. But that’s enough, isn’t it? (Is it?) (It is.)
Round 1: Better Svengali
Cross was discovered and championed (and assisted on his first single, “Ride Like the Wind”) by Michael McDonald, Doobie Brother, mustache escort, Mad TV star, and enthusiast of all that which is mellow. Kris Kross was discovered by Jeraine Dupri, songwriter, producer, and head of So So Def Records. While Dupri used to bone Janet Jackson (Miss Jackson, because he’s legitimately nasty) on a regular basis, introduced Da Brat-a-tat-tat to the world, and may possibly have invented grillz, he is not three-time Grammy Award winner Michael McDonald.
Round 2: Cooler Real Name
Cross was born Christopher Geppert. The members of Kris Kross, Kris and Kross, respectively, were born Christopher Kelly and Chris Smith, respectively. “Kris Kross” is actually a clever play on the duo’s incredibly average real names. Cross, however, switched out the vaguely ethic name of a soap opera actor for a generic, barely alliterative stage name that would have worked better, ironically, if it had been shortened to Chris Cross. (Note: Kris Kross never licensed its name and image to a brand of applesauce, sadly denying the world of Kris Kross Applesauce. “Kris Kross Applesauce: It’s wiggita wiggita wiggita packed with fiber.”)
Round 3: Journalistic Style
Cross had a hit in 1983 called “All Right.” Kross had a hit in 1993 called “Alright.” It’s kind of weird that the almost-identically named acts also had almost-identically named songs. But they aren’t exactly identical, so, like fraternal twins, there has to be one that is better than the other. The spelling out of “all right” as two separate words with the extra “l” looks wrong, and the Chicago Manual of Style concurs. Evidently, Cross is an AP Style kind of guy. This site is Chicago, so we just can’t roll.
Round 4: Best Hit Besides Their Biggest Hit
When considering “Ride Like the Wind” vs. “Warm It Up,” it’s a matter of personal taste. Because how do you compare a song that might be about Vikings to a song that is definitely about Hot Pockets? Easily. Obviously a song about Hot Pockets is better. That’s like comparing Hot Pockets to Lean Pockets (or Vikings).
Round 5: Venue In Which You Are Most Likely to Hear Their Music
You’d hear Cross in your aging mother’s aging Acura. You’d hear Kris Kross at a junior high dance 20 years ago.
Advantage: Cross, because your mom misses you and you should call her
Round 6: Style of Dress
Cross wore white suits from the big and tall store. Kris Kross wore giant overalls and hockey shirts. Backwards. If you dressed like Cross today, people may think you’re dressed up like Boss Hogg. If you wore a reversed San Jose Sharks jersey today, you’re an asshole.
Round 7: Who Would Play Them in a Movie
In the heretofore yet unmade Christopher Cross biopic The Best Than You Can Do, Cross would and will be played by Chris Pratt from Parks and Recreation. In the heretofore yet unmade Kris Kross biopic, How High? Real High, Kris Kross would and will be played by Willow and Jaden Smith.
Round 8: Signature Lyric
From Cross’s “Sailing”: “Sailing takes me away.” From Kris Kross’s “Jump”: “Inside, it’s wiggita wiggita wiggita whack!”
The verdict: It’s a tie, 4-4. That means, scientifically speaking, Christopher Cross and Kris Kross are exactly as good as each other.