I think the people at the late, much lamented BlairMag (linked above) summed up best what was so damn appealing about a trio of barely-talented girls in their underwear, dancing slightly out of time. While Vanity 6 (renamed from their original moniker The Hookers in a rare case of Princely restraint) were ostensibly built around Vanity aka Denise Matthews, it was white trash dynamo Brenda who stole the show, along with your wallet. And your heart!
Poor Susan didn’t get much play, thanks to her razor-thin “singing” voice, which was basically her talking in a “sexy” whisper. Even in her one spotlight tune, “Drive Me Wild”, watch Brenda in all her gum-snapping glory steal the show, literally from behind Susan’s back:
Brenda, however, got the straight-ahead New Wave treatment for her lead vocal tune, “Bite the Beat”. A real Flying Lizards meets The Nails “88 Lines About 44 Women” vibe permeates the song, showcasing Prince’s obvious love for New Wave at the time. Bite the beat, indeed.
Meanwhile, all the coke must have gone to poor Denise/Vanity’s head, because she split from the Paisley camp, turning down the female lead in Purple Rain, instead choosing to sign to Motown and star in The Last Dragon, which gave us this mess:
Oooh, Vanity must’a done bumped her head. Speaking of messes, Motown was able to give Vanity something that Prince couldn’t, namely a single that actually charted, the not-subtle-at-all “Pretty Mess”, a song that interestingly enough, never surfaced during all the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky brouhaha.
Brenda and Susan soldiered on with Vanity-Lite Apollonia, who, despite being purified in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, was a little short on the charisma meter. One album and gone. Now if BRENDA had gotten a solo album, we’d all be writing blog posts to this day dissecting her influence on an entire generation of bastard-bearing, Cheetos-eating, barefoot-bathroom-going-in-7-11s girls. Hey, Britney! Remake “Nasty Girl!” There’s your comeback advice.
You’re welcome. Can ya dig it? Click.
“Pretty Mess” peaked at #75 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #13 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart in 1984.
None of the other songs charted.
Vanity 6 or the Jill Jones 1987 CD are pretty much the Holy Grails of out-of-print Prince items. You can find Vanity 6 on Amazon, but you’re gonna pay.
NEXT: The most inessential reunion ever.