Song Review: Tyler Collins – “Second Chance”

“Second Chance” was released as the third single from Tyler Collins’ 1989 album, Girls Nite Out. It peaked at number 53 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, although the song actually made the Top 40 on Radio & Records airplay chart.

I was 15 years old and just starting my sophomore year of high school when “Second Chance” was released. I liked the previous single, “Girls Nite Out,” so I was curious to hear what else Tyler could do. I was surprised by just how pop “Second Chance” sounded compared to “Girls Nite Out,” and I thought the lyrics for “Second Chance” were very relatable. Unfortunately, I think the fact that the song sounded so drastically different from “Girls Nite Out” (which peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100) may have hurt it. Honestly, “Second Chance” didn’t sound too out of place with the other songs being released to pop radio in late summer/early fall of 1990. But it turned out that the relatable lyrics and having a good beat that you can dance to just wasn’t enough for “Second Chance” to make much of an impact on the pop charts.

I saw the music video for “Second Chance” for the very first time right before writing this up. It switches between black and white and color footage of Tyler lip-syncing and dancing to the song. For the sound and style of the song, perhaps this kind of music video was the best. While a story video could have been made, I don’t think it would have entirely worked with how upbeat this song is.

Song Review: Concrete Blonde – “Joey”

“Joey” was released as a single from Concrete Blonde’s 1990 album, Bloodletting. The single peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just about to start my sophomore year of high school when I first heard “Joey” on pop radio. It was an interesting song to me, because it sounded different from the other songs on the radio at the time, yet it still sounded commercial. I could also hear the sincerity in lead singer Johnette Napolitano’s voice. I think it was the combination of the music, the lyrics, and Johnette’s vocal performance that ultimately sold me on this song. Another thing about this song is that it may be over 25 years old now, but it doesn’t sound dated. The song holds up just as well now as it did when it was originally released.

The music video for “Joey” is on the simplistic side, but that was pretty much the standard for the alternative music videos that were being released at that time. It basically intercuts footage of Concrete Blonde performing the song at a club and footage of a man (who I assume is supposed to be Joey). Sometimes, we see him in the club watching the band, while other footage shows him staggering around. The music video works with the feel and lyrics of the song.

Song Review: M.C. Hammer – “Pray”

“Pray” was released as the third single from M.C. Hammer’s 1990 album, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em. The single was released on September 21, 1990, and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just starting my sophomore year of high school when “Pray” was released as a single. I already enjoyed “U Can’t Touch This” and “Have You Seen Her,” so I was ready to hear another song by M.C. Hammer. The first thing that grabbed my notice when I heard “Pray” was the sample of Prince and the Revolution’s “When Doves Cry,” since that is my all-time favorite song by Prince. I have to admit that while I still enjoy the song today, I don’t like it nearly as much as I did when I was 15. Now that I really pay attention to the lyrics, they aren’t nearly as socially conscious as I thought they were. Yes, there’s the verse where he raps about kids dying, but most of the song is more about Hammer and his desire for success. I expect the music video helped to make me think there was a lot more to the lyrics in “Pray” than what was actually there. It’s not a bad song, though. As they used to say on American Bandstand, it’s got a great beat and you can dance to it.

Not surprisingly, the music video employs quite a bit of imagery to make people think of religion. Church choirs jamming to the song, M.C. Hammer and other people in church, and dancers dancing in front of stained glass windows are just some of the images that invoke religion. These shots are intercut with M.C. Hammer and his posse going around and helping people out of bad situations (such as gambling, a kid buying drugs from a drug dealer, and two rival gangs heading into a confrontation). Unfortunately, the video for “Pray” just looks so dated today, thanks to the fashion (especially the Hammer pants) and hairstyles, as well as some of the choices the director made. It’s a music video that ultimately doesn’t pass the test of time.

Song Review: Mariah Carey – “Love Takes Time”

“Love Takes Time” was released as the second single from Mariah Carey’s 1990 self-titled album. The single was released on September 11, 1990, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just starting my sophomore year of high school when “Love Takes Time” was released. The first time I heard this song on the radio, I was simply blown away. While I enjoyed “Vision of Love,” this song made me gain even more appreciation for Mariah Carey. I fell in love with this song instantly, and it still remains one of my favorite Mariah Carey songs of all-time. I think what really makes this song stand out are the simplistic musical arrangement, the relatable nature of the song’s lyrics, and Mariah’s delivery of the lyrics. It’s definitely a song that resonated with me when I was 15 years old, and I have to say that I appreciate this song now just as much as I did when it first came out around 25 years ago.

The music video for “Love Takes Time” is on the simplistic side, but that fits in with the simplistic arrangement of the song. I think the director made a great choice filming it in black and white, because I think the black and white helps to accentuate the emotion behind the song. I don’t think a color video would have worked nearly as effectively. I also find it believable that Mariah would be strolling along the beach like she does in the video after a breakup. And to me, the video for “Love Takes Time” proves that you can make an effective music video without having to rely on effects and gimmicks.

Song Review: Alias – “More Than Words Can Say”

“More Than Words Can Say” was released as the lead-off single from Alias’ self-titled album from 1990. The single was released on September 8, 1990, and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just starting out my sophomore year of high school when this single was released. When it was played on the radio, it was mentioned that the lead singer of Alias, Freddy Curci, had been the lead singer of Sheriff (a band whose song “When I’m With You” had been a hit in early 1989). I loved “When I’m With You,” so I was more than willing to give “More Than Words Can Say” a chance. I’m glad I did, because I fell in love with the song the very first time that I heard it. There was just something about it that resonated with me when I was 15 years old, and I think it had to do with the sincerity that Freddy put into his vocal performance. The musical arrangement that accompanies that performance also perfectly captured the sense of longing that the lyrics convey. “More Than Words Can Say” is a song I still love a little over 25 years later. To be honest, I really don’t think that the song sounds terribly dated, and it resonates just as well now as it did back in 1990.

The music video for “More Than Words Can Say” is primarily Alias performing the song in some kind of a room, with an occasional shot of a woman intercut (with one of the shots showing the woman and Freddy together). When I re-watched the video for the first time in a number of years right before I wrote this up, I found myself wishing that more of a storyline had been developed between Freddy and the woman, and that less time had been used on the band’s performance. It feels like there should be more to that storyline than what we see, and I feel a little cheated that we never got to see more of what went on between them. It’s not a bad video for what it is, but I do think it could have been a little stronger.

Song Review: INXS – “Suicide Blonde”

“Suicide Blonde” was released as the lead-off single from INXS’ 1990 album, X. The single was released in August 1990 and peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just about to start my sophomore year of high school when “Suicide Blonde” was released. I liked what I heard from INXS’ previous album, Kick, so I was excited to hear a new song from the band when I heard “Suicide Blonde” for the first time. It’s a very catchy song, and I liked it immediately. While I still enjoy this song over 25 years later, I have to admit that it’s not among the strongest songs in INXS’ catalog. In a lot of ways, it’s not terribly surprising that I hardly ever hear this song receive any recurrent airplay anywhere, unlike many of the singles from Kick. “Suicide Blonde” is good for what it is, but it doesn’t have the lasting impact that other songs by INXS have.

I re-watched the music video for “Suicide Blonde” for the first time in a number of years right before I wrote this. Seeing it now, I realize just how cheap it actually looks. I admit that I thought the video looked more impressive to me when I was 15 years old. Now, I can pick up on all the various shortcuts and tricks the director used to try to make the video look more impressive than it really is. There’s a lot of reused footage, and the director relied a lot on zooming in on the band when they’re lip-syncing. And, as expected, all females that appear in this video are blonde. Unfortunately, this is a music video that really doesn’t stand the test of time. It just looks cheap and dated now.

Song Review: The Adventures of Stevie V – “Dirty Cash (Money Talks)”

“Dirty Cash (Money Talks)” was released as a single from The Adventures of Stevie V’s 1990 album, Adventures of Stevie V. The single was released in 1990, and peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and starting into my sophomore years of high school when “Dirty Cash (Money Talks)” was released as a single in the United States. I have to admit that at the time, this particular song didn’t do much of anything for me. I didn’t like it, but I didn’t exactly hate it, either. When it fell off the pop chart, I didn’t hear it again until several years later, after I’d moved over to the Seattle area and heard it on KNHC. I was around my mid-20’s at that point, and I realized that the song was better than I thought it was back when I was 15. I think that was due to my music horizons being broadened in the intervening years, and how I gained a better appreciation for some styles of music that I didn’t pay much attention to when I was a teenager. I just want to add that I think the saxophone bits that appear in this song help to raise it to “the next level”; without that, there wouldn’t have been much to make this song stand out from other dance songs that came out during that time period.

I re-watched the music video for “Dirty Cash (Money Talks)” shortly before writing this up. This is another video that I would call a “club video”; basically, the director went into it making a video meant to be shown in dance clubs and likely not being actively watched by people at home on MTV. There’s a lot of reused footage, and the overall quality of the video looks rather cheap. It also suffers from looking rather “dated” now, especially the hairstyles and clothing of the males that appear in the video.