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.

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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.

Song Review: Janet Jackson – “Black Cat”

“Black Cat” was released as the sixth single from Janet Jackson’s 1989 album, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. The single was released on August 28, 1990, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just about to start my sophomore year of high school when “Black Cat” was released as a single. I already knew the song from the Rhythm Nation album, and had hoped that it would be released as a single. You can imagine how ecstatic I was when I heard “Black Cat” being promoted and played on the radio. The song was such a departure for Janet, but she successfully pulled off this foray into rock music. While it was more of a rock song, you could still actually dance to it. And Janet nailed the vocals perfectly for it as well. I have to say that over 25 years later, “Black Cat” holds up just as well now as it did back in 1989 and 1990. I love how the song doesn’t sound dated at all.

The music video was shot during the world tour that Janet was on during that time. Even though “Black Cat” got a live video, the intercutting of the performances with the audience members actually worked well. The editing definitely captured the sound and spirit of the song, so it’s not boring to watch. I’d have to say that it’s one of the better live performance music videos that I’ve personally seen.

Song Review: Black Box – “Everybody Everybody”

“Everybody Everybody” was released as a single from Black Box’s 1990 album, Dreamland. The single was released in 1990 and peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and just starting my sophomore year of high school when I first heard this song. I thought the song was very catchy musically, even if it was rather repetitive lyrically. But considering it’s a dance song, I was willing to overlook the lyrical repetition. It sounded a little different than what I was used to from other dance music that I heard on pop radio, but it was what made it sound different that caught my attention. Admittedly, the song sounds rather dated today, but it’s still a dance song that I enjoy listening to.

Unfortunately for Black Box, they got caught up in the Martha Wash scandal that rocked the dance music community in 1990. Like with Seduction and C + C Music Factory, Wash’s vocals on this song were not credited, and someone else was shown on the album cover art and in the music video. Martha Wash was guaranteed proper credit on recordings in a 1990 settlement with RCA Records.

I watched the music video for the first time in a number of years before writing this up. The music video is what I like to refer to as a “club video.” What I mean by that is that the music video was made with a dance club audience in mind, and really wasn’t made with the intention of someone sitting at home and watching it on MTV or something. The video looks cheaply made, utilizes cheap-looking effects, and is rather uninteresting to watch. It also doesn’t help that the clothes in the video really date it. The song’s pretty good, but it’s saddled with a rather unimpressive music video.

Song Review: Breathe – “Say A Prayer”

“Say a Prayer” was released as the lead-off single in the United States for Breathe’s 1990 album, Peace of Mind. The single peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

I was 15 years old and heading into the 10th grade when “Say a Prayer” was released. I had enjoyed the singles from Breathe’s previous album, All That Jazz, so I was very interested the first time I heard “Say a Prayer” by Breathe played on the radio. While it still had the soft, adult contemporary sound that I expected from the band, there was still something different about it. On “Say a Prayer,” you can hear the light jazz influence mixed with the pop and soul much more easily than you could on the first album. While it sounded noticeably different, I still enjoyed “Say a Prayer.” It had a upbeat and happy feel about it, which really fit with the mood I was in at the time, which was the sense of optimism I was feeling as I was heading off to my first year in high school (back then, it was a three-year high school). I was a little disappointed at the time that “Say a Prayer” didn’t perform better on the charts, but looking back now, I can hear why. It’s a good song, but it just didn’t entirely fit with the sound that was popular in pop music at that time.

I watched the video for “Say a Prayer” shortly before working on this review, since I don’t recall MTV playing it all that much at the time that the song was being promoted. After watching it, I can say that it really wasn’t all that memorable. It features the band lip-syncing the song, intercut with footage of a woman doing various things. The video itself was also full of many tropes of music videos from the early 1990s, such as shot composition, lighting, editing, and cinematography. “Say a Prayer” was a good song that got saddled with a forgettable music video.

Song Review: Jude Cole – “Time for Letting Go”

“Time for Letting Go” was released as the second single from Jude Cole’s 1990 album, A View From 3rd Street. The single was released in 1990 and peaked at number 32 on the Billboard Hot 100.

I was 15 years old and about the start the 10th grade when “Time for Letting Go” was released. While I didn’t like “Baby It’s Tonight” right away when I first heard it, I fell in love with “Time for Letting Go” the very first time I heard it on the radio. There was just something about the song that instantly grabbed me. I think it was ultimately the combination of the relatable lyrics and Jude’s vocal delivery that sounded full of sincerity. Musically, the song perfectly captures the mood of someone who has decided to move on from a relationship.

I don’t remember seeing the music video for “Time for Letting Go” during the time the song was on the charts, so I found a copy on YouTube and watched it. It starts out with Jude busking on 3rd Street and lip-syncing the song. But as the video progresses, people pass him by on the street and then the audience sees a vignette of each person and the situation they’re going through. The situations appear to be taking place in locations near to where Jude is busking on the street. The video works for what the director was trying to accomplish, and the various vignettes help to illustrate what Jude is singing about in the song.

Song Review: Pebbles – “Giving You the Benefit”

“Giving You the Benefit” was released as the lead-off single from Pebbles’ 1990 album, Always. The single was released in August 1990, and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100.

I was 15 years old and enjoying the summer between 9th and 10th grade when “Giving You the Benefit” was released. I’d heard a couple of songs by Pebbles back in the late 1980s that I enjoyed, so I was definitely open to giving a new song by her a chance. After hearing “Giving You the Benefit” for the first time, I fell in love with the attitude in the song’s lyrics. The fact that the song also had a catchy beat that you could dance to also helped it to appeal to me. I still enjoy the song 25 years later, and it’s my favorite song by Pebbles.

The music video appears to be showing Pebbles at a photo shoot of some kind and lip-syncing the lyrics. There’s no attempt at trying to tel la story or anything, though. It’s basically a lot of shots of Pebbles in different outfits and on different sets as she lip-syncs. It’s not a bad video, though, and it works for what the director was going for.