“Black Velvet” was released as a single from Alannah Myles’ 1989 self-titled album. The song was released as a single on December 17, 1989, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
I was 14 years old and in the ninth grade when this single was released. I have to admit that at the time, the song didn’t do much for me. While this may sound a little weird, but I didn’t dislike the song; however, I didn’t like it, either. It was just kind of there for me. I think what my problem was at the time was a combination of not being used to hearing that kind of a blues sound on pop radio and not totally understanding the references made in the lyrics. Once I got a little older, broadened my musical horizons a little, and also had some distance from when the song has heavy rotation on the radio on MTV, I gained a better appreciation for “Black Velvet” and came to like the song.
Looking back, though, it actually surprises me that “Black Velvet” managed to go all the way to number one on the pop chart in 1990. Like Michael Penn’s “No Myth,” it really stood out compared to the other songs being released at the same time. But then again, it seems like pop radio was much more open-minded 25 years ago compared to now and was willing to take more chances with the music that was played.
A funny story, though. I had been hearing the song on my local Top 40 station before seeing the video on MTV, and I kept thinking that when the DJs announced the artist that they were saying “A Lotta Miles” and thought that it sounded like a dumb name for a band. So when I saw the music video for the first time and saw that the artist was “Alannah Myles,” I felt a little silly.
Speaking of the music video, it’s primarily a performance video that’s intercut with footage of Alannah singing outside of a cabin, Alannah riding a horse, etc. But to be honest, this type of video works with the sound of the song.