Wrapped in taffeta and camp while sporting a foot-high blonde beehive, Mari Wilson (not the Supreme) stepped out of the mid-sixties and straight into the new wave movement with her 1983 debut, â€œShow Peopleâ€ and its centerpiece single, â€œJust What I Always Wantedâ€.
Wilson began her career with a huge backing group dubbed the â€œWilsationsâ€, including three male background singers who had the nelliest, campiest choreography ever. Mari notched a couple chart hits in the U.K. and MTV put the â€œJust Whatâ€¦â€ video in light rotation, where I sat waiting to see it for hours and hours, alongside the video for Tears For Fearsâ€™ â€œPale Shelterâ€ after my best friend Brandon claimed he saw once and I refused to believe him (he was right, by the way). There, tucked between such videos as Planet P â€œWhy Me?â€ and Rod Stewart â€œBaby Janeâ€ came Mari, all sixties girl group glam and lush production, belting a Bacharach-ish tune with electronic drums. Heaven.
Wilsonâ€™s â€œShow Peopleâ€ album was packed with such treasures, but the highlight was probably her version of â€œCry Me a Riverâ€, where she very nearly ditched all the camp novelty aspects of her act and gave a stirring, moody performance. Itâ€™s quite lovely and pointed toward her future career as a smooth-jazz performer. A few more singles, a cameo in the Soft Cell video for â€œWhat!â€, a record label dispute and one final jazzy album in 1991 followed, then the quiet life until this month, when Mari released her first album in 15 years, â€œDolled Upâ€.
VH1 Classic rolls the â€œJust What I Always Wantedâ€ video here and there, so if you get the chance, definitely check it out.
You can find some more recent Mari Wilson CDs here, and one compilation of her new wave era songs, but donâ€™t have a coronary when you see the price tag.
â€Just What I Always Wantedâ€ failed to chart in 1983.
â€œCry Me a Riverâ€ was not released as a single in the U.S.