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.

Song Review: Heart – “Stranded”

“Stranded” was released as the third single from Heart’s 1990 album, Brigade. The single was released in September 1990 and peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just starting my sophomore year of high school when “Stranded” was released. I fell in love with this song the first time I ever heard it on the radio. It was a beautiful, yet melancholic ballad that featured Nancy Wilson on lead vocals. The lyrics to this song are so relatable, and Nancy’s vocal delivery and performance makes the listener believe that she means what she’s singing. To be honest, I love this song just as much now as I did when it first came out. To me, it’s the strongest single to be released from Brigade, and it ranks among my all-time favorite songs by Heart.

The music video intercuts footage of the band with shots of Nancy Wilson lip-syncing the song. In most of Nancy’s shots, she’s on a bridge on a slightly foggy night. The lighting and cinematography of these shots of Nancy effectively capture the mood and feel of the song. I especially like the opening shot on the bridge, where the camera is at a tilted angle at first, until Nancy comes into frame. Once Nancy appears, the camera angle straightens back to normal. There’s also some random shots of Nancy with an acoustic guitar (a couple of times, she’s seen playing the guitar as she’s lip-syncing, and a couple of shots show her stretched out on the ground with the acoustic guitar next to her). But overall, it’s a good video for what it is.

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.