Today’s #tbt is brought to you by Billboard’s Top 10 jams from this week in January 1992!
DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for getting any of these songs stuck in your head.
1) “All 4 Love” – Color Me Badd
I like this song and I don’t even care who knows it. It’s so peppy! And cheerful! And chock full of ridiculously awesome dancing! My new spirit animal is the Ridiculously Happy Guy with the pink shirt and the glossy, shoulder-length bob and the blindingly white teeth. I dare you to look at him and NOT feel giddy.
This video was seemingly filmed at the home of one of their moms, or perhaps a kindly friend. What creeps me out, though, is the segments of them individually putting the moves on their lady-friends. Is all of this happening simultaneously, in the same house? Like, that’s a little weird. No? I’m reading too much into this? Okay.
If I don’t answer the phone when you call later, it’s because I’m busy practicing putting my arms up like a goalpost/Cornholio and windmilling across the living room.
2) “Can’t Let Go” – Mariah Carey
I LOVE me some 90’s Mariah. While not my favorite MC song, this is pretty solid, and has held up well. (And yes, I still know all the words.) I feel like it’s missing one of her her high-pitched, only audible to dogs vocal runs at the end, though? Maybe?
The video is 3 minutes and 48 seconds of meh, though. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Janet Jackson’s “Love Would Never Do Without You” video, with the black and white, and the shadows, and the upswept hair. Other than that, though, it’s just Mariah standing around looking sad, yet glamorous, with shots of flowers thrown in periodically. Yawn.
3) “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” – George Michael / Elton John
I feel like I was forced to listen to this song 47,000 times while in the car with my mom as a child (radio station permanently tuned to Magic 106.7, baby!). I am a big fan of both George and Sir Elton, but this song never did much for me.
There is no official music video for this song, per se, but here’s the boys singing their hearts out in front of a live audience. Big ups to George’s giant gold pirate hoop earring and Sir Elton’s pajama bottoms/suit jacket/trucker hat ensemble.
4) “Black Or White” – Michael Jackson
Now THIS is a video! A spectacular, even! It makes a big point of letting us know that it features Dolby Surround™ Sound, so you know it has to be good. The first 1:46 is dedicated to backstory, so you won’t be confused when Michael starts dancing with African hunters! And Thai women! And gun-toting Native Americans! And an Indian woman dancing on a median strip! And Ukrainian folk dancers!
Phew. Needed a minute to calm down there. Then there’s a fierce montage of MJ dance-fighting a wind machine in front of a green screen. And children lip-syncing! And we’re on the top of the Statue of Liberty! And THEN what the video is most famous for… the FACE-MORPHING THING. Still pretty cool. #sorrynotsorry
Also: SO many celeb cameos! Macaulay Culkin! Tyra Banks! Norm from Cheers!
Oh, yeah, the song… not my favorite MJ song, but I let it play when it comes up on my iPod shuffle.
5) “Finally” – CeCe Peniston
THIS SONG IS MY JAM. Homegirl is FIERCE. I love singing/growling this song at the top of my lungs at home, in the car, at karaoke, in line at Chipotle, etc. I loved this song when it came out (when I was like 7-8 years old) and I love it now.
The video is your typical exercise in early 90’s music videos… geometric shapes, random color saturation, and a lone male dancer. CeCe is doing the best she can with her mock turtleneck, flared pants, and chunky heels. We all did the best we could in that same outfit in 1992.
6) “Diamonds And Pearls” – Prince and the New Power Generation
Prince, with or without the New Power Generation, is amazing. He’s a fantastic singer, songwriter, and guitar player. This song, however, is the musical equivalent of a sickly-sweet lukewarm bread pudding. Bleh.
Alas, the video is not available on YouTube due to copyright issues… but it can be viewed in its entirety here. I feel like this still from the video tells you a lot about what you’re missing, though:
There is SO MUCH HAIR in this video. The sulky models have bouffants. Prince has a bouffant. Prince’s chest has a bouffant. It’s a snoozefest (unless you’re into Prince playing the piano or getting himself entangled in a long chain of faux pearls) until about 2:35, when SHIT. GETS. REAL! Dancers! Guitars and pianos! Prince leaping off a chaise lounge and landing in a full split!
Then, a whole bunch of children roll in on old-timey tricycles and start blowing bubbles. Yeah, I’m as confused as you. This video is kind of a mess.
7) “I Love Your Smile” – Shanice
This is another song I liked a lot as an 8-year old in 1992. Who hasn’t daydreamed their way through class? Who hasn’t wanted to get out of work early? Who hasn’t put that new black mini on their charge anyway?
[Side note: Shanice laments in the second verse that “The clock at work says three, and I wanna be free – free to scream, free to bathe, free to paint my toes all day.” These seem like, well, slightly odd things to lament the loss of… if work prevents you from bathing, GET A NEW JOB.]
The video consists of a creepy photographer guy with a creepy little ponytail taking pictures of Shanice in a chair, Shanice dancing in acid-washed high-waisted jeans, Shanice in front of a fan, SHANICE PLAYING IN A PARK WITH CHILDREN. Seriously – creeper. The video ends with Shanice turning the tables on her stalker by taking HIS photo with a Polaroid. The hunter has become the hunted! #plottwist
8) “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana
Legendary. That intro riff, the drums, the grittiness of it all… anything I write about this song doesn’t do it justice. Even if you don’t like this song, or Nirvana, it’s impossibly to deny the effect both had on 90’s music and culture in general.
The video is largely as I remembered it – a dystopian pep rally that devolves into a mosh pit. Everyone looks sweaty. Perhaps they’re all working after-school jobs with Shanice and aren’t allowed to bathe.
9) “Mysterious Ways” – U2
This is one of my Top Ten All-Time Favorite Songs. Might even be Top Three… but that’s not important right now. This song is so damn good that I don’t even care that the theme of the video is basically “Let’s Make Bono Look Tall, Like In A Funhouse Mirror! (In Morocco)”. I remember thinking this video was so cool and edgy when it came out… I was 7. Cut a kid some slack.
10) “I’m Too Sexy” – Right Said Fred
I’m not a big user of the “I can’t even” phrase… but… this video. I can’t even. MESH SHIRTS. LEATHER HAMMER PANTS. JOEY BUTTAFUOCO TANK TOPS BEING RIPPED OFF BY PASSERSBY ON THE STREET.
The song is a matter-of-fact list of all the things these two brothers are too sexy for – their love, New York, hats, Japan, cars, Milan, The Louisiana Purchase, Hoboken, and cats. Get over yourselves. NO ONE is too sexy for cats.
Final thoughts: If you find that, in fact, you are “too sexy for [your] shirt – so sexy it hurts!” you might be wearing it wrong.
See you next Thursday with more throwback jams! Got any specific years you want to relive? Until then, keep on dancing, my friends.