Song Review: Bette Midler – “From a Distance”

“From a Distance” was released as a single from Bette Middler’s 1990 album, Some People’s Lives. The single was released on October 1, 1990, and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. I just learned that Bette Midler’s version is actually a cover, and that “From a Distance” was originally recorded it and released the song in 1988.

I was 15 years old and was in the early months of my sophomore year of high school when Bette Midler released her version of “From a Distance.” I thought it was a beautiful song that was full of innocence, especially when it came to the lyrics. Like with Poison’s “Something to Believe In,” Bette Midler’s “From a Distance” was released right around the time of Operation Desert Shield. I think the verse about war really resonated with people back during that time, since war in Iraq seemed to be imminent. While I like “From a Distance,” I have a feeling that it probably wouldn’t have quite been the hit that it was if it hadn’t been for the events taking place in the Middle East at the time. I listened to the song for the first time in a long time right before writing up this post, and it actually made me feel kind of sad. The song has a message that the world could really use right now, but I think a lot of people are just so angry that they would turn a deaf ear to it today.

The music video includes shots of Bette Midler lip-syncing the song, intercut with footage of kids of various ethnic races and dressed in various costumes interacting with each other. The kids, of course, represent the peace and harmony that Bette sings about in the song. While the music video may not have been anything groundbreaking, it works well for the song and seemed to achieve what the director had been aiming for to bring the song to life.

Song Review: The Human League – “Heart Like a Wheel”

“Heart Like a Wheel” was released as the first single from The Human League’s 1990 album, Romantic? The single was released on August 6, 1990, and peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just about to start my sophomore year of high school when “Heart Like a Wheel” was released. I knew The Human League from the song “Human,” which had been popular just a few years earlier, so I was quite surprised to hear an upbeat song coming out of them. But I fell in love with “Heart Like a Wheel” the very first time that I heard it. I think what ultimately grabbed me was the musical arrangement and the lyrics. It may now be over 25 years since I first heard “Heart Like a Wheel,” but I enjoy it just as much now as I did back then. While some of the songs from this time period sound dated in a cringe-worthy sort of way, this song doesn’t. I can’t quite say that it doesn’t sound dated, but it’s nowhere near as obvious as other songs that were popular at the same time.

The music video for “Heart Like a Wheel” is rather simplistic, and it relies heavily on having various wheels appearing in the shots. It’s not necessarily a bad music video, but there’s nothing to truly make it stand out, either. It’s not bad for what it’s trying to accomplish, though.

Song Review: Poison – “Something to Believe In”

“Something to Believe In” was released as the second single from their 1990 album, Flesh & Blood. The single was released on September 4, 1990, and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just starting my sophomore year of high school when “Something to Believe In” was released. I’d been a fan of Poison’s power ballads on their previous two albums, but there was something different about this power ballad that just moved me. Even though I was 15 years old at the time, I could still sense and understand the melancholy tone of the lyrics and relate to it. “Something to Believe In” was released during a time when war was starting to look imminent in Iraq, and people in the United States were starting to feel the confusion and despair that comes across in the song. Looking back now, I honestly believe that this song marked an important turning point for the band’s sound. And I can say over 25 years later, I enjoy this song as much, if not more, than at the time it was being promoted as a single. Now that I’m older and have experienced more of life, I can truly understand where the band was coming from when they wrote this song. Also, I can easily say that “Something to Believe In” is my all-time favorite song by Poison.

The music video perfectly captures the mood of the song. There’s footage being shown to illustrate each verse of the song as Bret Michael lip-syncs the song. This becomes very powerful in the verse where Bret sings about the death of his best friend. During filming, footage of Bret’s friend was screened, and you can just see Bret stop lip-syncing and trying to hold back tears. To me, that’s probably one of the most memorable and most powerful shots in the entire video. Personally, I believe that “Something to Believe In” the best music video that Poison ever released.

Song Review: Tony! Toni! Tone! – “Feels Good”

“Feels Good” was released as the third single from Tony! Toni! Tone!’s 1990 album, The Revival. The single was released on June 15, 1990, and peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and had just finished my freshman year of high school when this single was released, but it didn’t get any real pop radio airplay until I had started my sophomore year. To be honest, I was surprised to learn that this was the third single from The Revival, since this was the first song I ever heard by Tony! Toni! Tone! Admittedly, I wasn’t too sure about “Feels Good” when I was first hearing it, but by the time it had finished its chart run on pop, it had grown on me. The song has a catchy feel to it, and it was just a fun song. While I wouldn’t say that “Feels Good” would necessarily be among my favorite songs of all-time, it’s an enjoyable track for what it is.

I watched the music video for the first time in years right before I wrote this up. It’s basically a performance video, and the clothing styles make it look very dated now. But the overall feel of the video fits with the vibe of the song, and I don’t think they could have done much more than a performance video for it. “Feels Good” just doesn’t lend itself anything more visually, so I think the director made the best choice to make the music video a performance clip.

Song Review: Deee-lite – “Groove Is in the Heart”

“Groove Is in the Heart” was released as the lead-off single from Deee-lite’s 1990 album, World Clique. The single was released in August 1990, and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just starting out my sophomore year of high school when I first heard this song. At the time, I absolutely hated it and thought it was one of the worst I’d ever heard. That was probably due, in large part, to the fact that between my local Top 40 station and MTV, I just couldn’t get away from it. I was so happy when the song finished its run on the charts and wasn’t being played in regular rotation anymore. But fast forward a couple of years later, after I broadened my horizons when it came to music, and I heard “Groove Is in the Heart” again in recurrent airplay. I realized that the song wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. In fact, I found that I actually really liked it. It’s too bad I hadn’t given it more of a chance back in 1990. And looking at Wikipedia right before I started writing this, I learned that this song is actually made up of quite a few samples. Wow… I hadn’t realized just how sample heavy “Groove Is in the Heart” really is.

The music video is, for the lack of a better term, trippy. It relies on psychedelic images playing on a blue or green screen in the background, and everyone in the video is wearing clothes that would’ve fit right in back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It’s definitely a very memorable video, and once you see it, you’ll never forget it. I say this video looks dated, but not because it obviously looks like it came out in the early 1990s. Instead, I say it looks dated because it looks like it should have come straight out of the late 1960s!

Song Review: Soho – “Hippychick”

“Hippychick” was released as a single from Soho’s 1990 album, Goddess. The single peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

I was 15 years old and just starting my sophomore year of high school when “Hippychick” was released. I wasn’t quite sure about the song when I first heard it, but it grew on me as I got more exposure to it through radio airplay. I liked how the song opened, and I learned a few years later that it was sampled from a song by The Smiths called “How Soon Is Now?” And from what I’ve read, a rhythm from Soul II Soul (or at least being credited to Soul II Soul) was also sampled. While I do still like the song, I’m a little disappointed to learn just how much it relied on sampling to create the iconic sound of the song.

I just saw the music video for the first time in a number of years right before I sat down to compose this. It’s a rather simple video that features footage of the vocalists lip-syncing the song and the band members miming their performance. For the type of song it is, it’s not terribly surprising that it got this kind of a video.

Song Review: Hall & Oates – “So Close”

“So Close” was released as the lead-off single from Hall & Oates’ 1990 album, Change of Season. The single was released on September 17, 1990, and peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just starting my sophomore year of high school when “So Close” was released. It had been about two years since Hall & Oates had released anything new, and since I had enjoyed a lot of their previous material, I was very interested in hearing what they had to offer. I loved “So Close” the first time I heard it. The music grabbed my attention immediately, and I thought the lyrics about couples that have stopped communicating was very relatable. It’s been a little over 25 years since “So Close” was released, and I enjoy this song just as much as I did when I was 15. In a lot of ways, I think I can appreciate this song more now than I could then, thanks to having experienced more of life in the intervening years.

The music video for “So Close” is in black and white, and it’s more on the simplistic side. The primary focus of the video is on Daryl Hall and John Oates lip-syncing the song, with occasional other footage cut in. These images are kind of related to the various stories shared in the verses, but I look at them as more “abstract representations” of the stories rather than as actual representations, especially since some of the footage is reused during some of the choruses. It’s not a bad music video for what it is, and I think that was the best way to handle it since there’s not just one linear story being told through the song.