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CHART ATTACK! #23: 3/14/92

Note from Jason:  We’re into week three of me pawning my work off onto others our guest-written Chart Attack! series!  Sure, we all know Robert from his astute post comments – you know, the ones that are sometimes longer than the original posts – but did you know the man posts hysterical pop culture commentary all the time on his own blog, Mulberry Panda 96?   Add him to your blog feed, and let’s give him a big welcome as he graces us with his special brand of snark + TMI and attacks March 14, 1992!

10.  Good For Me – Amy Grant
9.  Diamonds And Pearls – Prince & The N.P.G.
  Amazon iTunes
8.  Tell Me What You Want Me To Do – Tevin Campbell  Amazon iTunes
7.  Masterpiece – Atlantic Starr  Amazon iTunes
6.  I Love Your Smile – Shanice  Amazon iTunes
5.  Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton  Amazon iTunes
4.  Save The Best For Last – Vanessa Williams  Amazon iTunes
3.  Remember The Time – Michael Jackson  Amazon iTunes
2.  I’m Too Sexy – Right Said Fred  Amazon iTunes
1.  To Be With You – Mr. Big  Amazon iTunes

Allow me to jerk you back to the ’90s, the decade I graduated from high school, graduated from college, and watched as my hair started to graduate from my head. And shortly after the week of March 14, 1992, I kissed a girl for the first time! Yeah! High five! High five! You in the back, gimme some! Wooo! Sure, I was already 16, but I’m a late bloomer in lots of ways (except for the graduating hair).

This entry of Chart Attack! marks the closest we’ve gotten so far to the present day, just as 1992 marks the last year that I was truly aware of what was new and popular on the radio. Geez, 1992, when did you get so old?

10. Good For Me — Amy Grant (download)

No, you’re good for me, you magnificent Christian songbird!

I genuinely like "Good For Me" (which peaked at #8), as well as "Every Heartbeat" and "Baby Baby," all of which were big hits for Amy Grant, but they didn’t work their magic for me back in 9th and 10th grade. No, it took until just a few years ago for me to realize these are simply good examples of shiny mainstream pop. Just like household pets and small children, I too like shiny things, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Grant, as you’re probably aware, started out as a teenage CCM (contemporary Christian music) artist in the ’70s, but in the mid-’80s she started to cross over into pop territory and quickly found success with "The Next Time I Fall," a #1 duet with Peter Cetera. "Good for Me" is from Grant’s 1991 album Heart in Motion, a more-popular-than-Jesus success that generated five Top 40 singles in a little over a year, four of which reached the Top 10 (they also happen to be the first four tracks on the album).

Check out "Good For Me’s" guitar-and-organ duel at the 2:35 mark. See, the organ represents the Lord, and the electric guitar represents the Devil. Which will you choose, Amy?! Predictably, it’s a tie—the organ throws two nice jabs, but so does the guitar. The cosmic ballet goes on …

9. Diamonds and Pearls — Prince and the New Power Generation
Does anyone else remember 1991’s Diamonds and Pearls being somewhat of a comeback for Prince? It’s not like Mr. Prolific had gone anywhere or witnessed a huge drop in sales, but his three previous albums—the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack (1990), the Batman soundtrack (1989), and Lovesexy (1988)—were seen as critical and/or commercial disappointments. And even though no one was pretending that Diamonds and Pearls was another Purple Rain (1984) or Sign “O” the Times (1987), it generally received a pass from the critics and racked up four Top 40 singles (including the #1 "Cream"), the most from any Prince album besides Purple Rain.

Diamonds and Pearls introduced Prince’s Revolution replacements, the New Power Generation, although they had already made their film debut in Graffiti Bridge as members of his character’s band. The title track reached #3 on the pop chart (#1 on the R&B chart) and is something of a duet between Prince and Rosie Gaines, a singer and keyboardist in the NPG. I’ve always liked "Diamonds and Pearls," and unlike "Gett Off" and "Cream," there’s no dirty talk in it, so it’s safe for the kids. The closing lines—"There will be the time / When everything will shine / So bright it makes you color-blind"—do make me wonder if, somewhere in his past, Prince was rejected by a close-minded, materialistic white girl (certainly not my fellow Georgia native Amy Grant, so don’t even think it).

8. Tell Me What You Want Me to Do — Tevin Campbell
Back to the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack for a second: it featured Tevin Campbell’s first solo hit, "Round and Round," which was written and produced by Prince. Earlier in 1990 Campbell had a #1 R&B hit with "Tomorrow (A Better You, a Better Me)," a cover/update of a 1976 Brothers Johnson instrumental that was featured on Quincy Jones’s Back on the Block (1989). So who added the lyrics for then-12-year-old Campbell to sing? Siedah Garrett, Michael Jackson’s backing vocalist on 1987’s "I Just Can’t Stop Loving You" and recent Best Song Oscar nominee for Dreamgirls’ "Love You I Do."

There’s not much to say about "Tell Me What You Want Me to Do," which is why I’m talking about other Campbell songs, but it does have some nice Mellow Gold elements. Start with the title. Be a man, Tevin! Don’t let this girl tell you what to do! Oh, wait … she’s crying. Does she cry a lot? All the time, you say? Yeah, my high school girlfriend used to do that. Drove me crazy. Sometimes I just wanted to say, "Look, tell me what you—" … ohhhhhh … now I see where you’re coming from.

But the song’s still pretty dull.

In April of ’91, Campbell appeared on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as a teenage R&B star named "Little T." (For God’s sake, Fresh Prince producers, let the young man stretch!) In this not-so-special episode, Campbell sings "Happy Birthday" to Will’s cousin Ashley and then asks her out on her first date. (For those who aren’t interested in Master Campbell’s thespian pursuits, there’s a really dumb Duran Duran joke at the 6:20 mark, so wait for it.)


You know, a girl’s first date can leave a lasting impression on her for the rest of her life. The memories she takes with her and the lessons she learns can influence her self-esteem as well as the way she looks at her subsequent romantic interests. Therefore when Campbell was arrested in 1999 for soliciting oral sex from an undercover male police officer, I bet the Fresh Prince’s cousin died a little on the inside. I can symphathize, Ashley. How do you think I felt when the girl who gave me my first kiss turned out to be a completely different person?

Damn you and your sneaky Mission: Impossible-style masks, Mr. Vice-President! (In hindsight the saggy breasts made perfect sense, of course.) "Tell Me What You Want Me to Do" peaked at #6 on the pop chart but was a #1 smash on the R&B chart.

7. Masterpiece — Atlantic Starr
Two weeks ago Matthew Bolin wrote about Atlantic Starr’s "Secret Lovers" for his edition of Chart Attack! "Masterpiece" was the band’s third (and last) Top 10 hit, but—correct me if I’m wrong—it hasn’t had the staying power of "Secret Lovers" and 1987’s "Always" on Lite FM and R&B oldies stations. Or maybe it’s just an earworm that hasn’t worked its way into my brain the way those other two have.

Like previous Atlantic Starr hits, "Masterpiece" is another drippy ballad. As I type this, it’s dripping several unidentified fluids all over my computer, my desk, and my Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. Thanks a lot, A.S.! Or should I blame Kenny Nolan? He wrote the song. But guess what he cowrote in the ’70s with Bob Crewe? Well, for starters, LaBelle’s "Lady Marmalade." Hey, you’re not so bad after all, Kenny! (I just watched Carlito’s Way again recently, and "Lady Marmalade" is used masterfully near the end of that movie. But is Carlito’s Way a Brian De Palma masterpiece? Cahiers du Cinema called it the best movie of the ’90s. It’s never dripped anything on me, and that’s a good place to start, in my opinion.)

Nolan also wrote and performed "I Like Dreamin’," which can be found on Super Hits of the ’70s: Have a Nice Day, Vol. 19 alongside Alan O’Day’s "Undercover Angel," Mary MacGregor’s "Torn Between Two Lovers," and David Soul’s "Don’t Give Up on Us." Yet another treasure trove of Mellow Gold—how can we ever repay you, Rhino Records?

"Masterpiece" reached #3 on both the pop and R&B charts.

6. I Love Your Smile — Shanice (download)
Early last year I turned to Love 100.3 here in Chicago and heard "I Love Your Smile." I had sort of a déjà vu moment—I wasn’t sure when I’d last heard the song, and I couldn’t remember a particular instance of hearing it 14 years prior, but it immediately screamed "10th grade" to me. Sure enough, it was a hit in early ’92.

I really like "I Love Your Smile," but its sky-high cheese content must have escaped the attention of the American Dairy Council. I give you Exhibit A: "My boss is lame, you know / And so is the pay / I’m gonna put that new black mini on my charge anyway / ‘Cause I love your smile." Shanice, just as a man shouldn’t be able to buy your love, you shouldn’t go into major credit-card debt to win his love. Besides, his primary objective is to get you naked, so why spring for new clothes?

The song’s lyrics are easily forgiven, however. Shanice was barely 18 when she cowrote and recorded "I Love Your Smile," and the feeling of teenage romantic euphoria that she brings to the song is what makes it so memorable. Branford Marsalis’s light-jazz saxophone solo also helps, as does Narada Michael Walden’s sunny production.

"I Love Your Smile" spent three weeks at #2 on the pop chart but four weeks at #1 on the R&B chart. Shanice had another Top 10 pop hit in early ’93 with "Saving Forever for You," which was featured on the Beverly Hills, 90210 soundtrack. Click on that link and check out who else was on this compilation: Paula Abdul; Color Me Badd; Vanessa Williams (we’ll get to her in a second) and Brian McKnight duetting on the Top 5 hit "Love Is"; Jody Watley; contractually bound Giant Records recording artists Geoffrey Williams (a personal favorite from the early ’90s), Jeremy Jordan (I love how allmusic.com’s Matt Collar describes Jordan’s single "The Right Kind of Love" as having a "Todd Rundgren-meets-Andy Gibb melodic hook" that "almost qualifies it as a classic of the decade"—’tis true!), and Tara Kemp; and, last but not least …

The cosmic ballet goes on …

5. Tears in Heaven — Eric Clapton

Originally featured on the soundtrack to the Jennifer Jason Leigh-Jason Patric movie Rush (1991), for which Eric Clapton composed the score, "Tears in Heaven" was written in memory of Clapton’s son, Conor, who died at the age of four in March of ’91 when he fell out of a window on the 53rd floor of a New York City apartment building. Rush was a flop, but "Tears in Heaven" certainly wasn’t, peaking at #2 for four weeks and winning Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammys in ’93; Clapton’s Unplugged album, which featured a live version of the song, won Album of the Year.

"Tears in Heaven" was all over the radio in ’92, which led many people to wish that the song itself would go to heaven and never come back, but it’s impossible not to be affected in some way by Clapton’s musical expression of his grief. That being said, did you ever see the "Teardrop Award" sketch on Mr. Show?


Comedy = tragedy + time, so it’s a good thing that in March of ’92 this sketch was still six and a half years away from being created. While we’re on the subject of Mr. Show, may I also recommend "The Audition"? The writing on that show is hard to beat.

4. Save the Best for Last — Vanessa Williams
In 1991 Vanessa Williams released her second album, The Comfort Zone. It contained a smart, slick, gender-reversed cover of the Isley Brothers’ classic "Work to Do" (one of my all-time favorites despite the sexist lyrics, which were already out of touch by the early ’70s) and a nice ballad called "Just for Tonight." But it also contained this overplayed number, which hit #1 on the pop, R&B, adult contemporary, and airplay ("overplayed" isn’t just a matter of opinion here, you see) charts.

"Save the Best for Last" contains the line "Sometimes the sun goes ’round the moon." I’m no science expert, but I’m 99.9% sure that’s not possible, Vanessa. Stop screwing around with the cosmic ballet!

The rest of "Save the Best for Last" boils down to this: "I’ve always loved you and wanted to be with you, but you only saw me as your best friend. So there I’d sit and listen to you whine about all the other girls you were going out with when you could’ve been going out with me. Finally, as Todd Rundgren might say, you saw the light and realized, ‘Wait a second … my best friend is Vanessa Williams! And she’s so much hotter than all these other girls I’ve been with! I mean, it’s a little cocky of her to call herself "the best," but … wait, what am I saying?! Why am I even having this internal monologue? Vanessa Williams is standing right in front of me! She was in that movie with Schwarzenegger! I loved that movie! Hey, how come she’s Vanessa L. Williams when she’s in movies? Hmm … is it because of that other actress named Vanessa Williams who was on the first season of Melrose Place? I should look that up on IMDB. Gee, I hope my Vanessa won’t mind if I turn my back on her for a couple minutes so I can look at another Vanessa on the Internet. I mean, if she’s waited this long for me, she can wait two more minutes, am I right? Of course I’m right. Okay, logging on … let’s see … hey, here’s something interesting—my Vanessa was in the movie Soul Food, and this other Vanessa was in the Soul Food TV series. I wonder if my Vanessa already knows that— … hey, where’d she go? … wow, I guess she couldn’t wait two more minutes.’"

3. Remember the Time — Michael Jackson
Remember the time when Michael Jackson was getting weirder and paler but wasn’t yet being accused of molesting little boys? We all thought Michael was being silly describing his skinny, high-pitched self as "dangerous," especially after telling Wesley Snipes how "bad" he was in that Martin Scorsese video, but look what happened. We can’t say Jacko didn’t warn us.

Just like those Amy Grant songs, I didn’t care much for "Remember the Time" back in ’92, but a few months ago I heard it again and now I love it. It has a great chorus that conveys aching nostalgia, nagging regret, and oh-my-God-that-was-my-last-shot-at-happiness paranoia all at once, and it features a mostly vocal-tic-free performance from Jackson. I still think the John Singleton-directed video, costarring Eddie Murphy, Iman, and Magic Johnson, was overblown, but did we expect anything less from the Gloved One in that department? Nope.

In January of ’92, Jackson’s Dangerous was replaced at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart by Nirvana’s Nevermind, in some ways signaling the real beginning of the ’90s in terms of the industry’s long-term trends. Written by Jackson, Bernard Belle, and new jack swing architect Teddy Riley, "Remember the Time" peaked at #3 on the pop chart but spent two weeks at #1 on the R&B chart.

2. I’m Too Sexy — Right Said Fred

In 10th grade I taped this song off the "I’m Too Sexy" cassingle, which a friend from my church youth group had let me borrow. (The B side was the Spanish version of the song, which begins with "Soy tan sexy que mi amor….") On my tape "I’m Too Sexy" is immediately followed by the Beatles’ "Martha My Dear," so whenever I hear the ending of the song now, I expect the opening piano chords of "Martha My Dear" to come next.

But Right Said Fred and the Beatles are also connected in the wonderful world of music trivia: "I’m Too Sexy" was RSF’s debut single in the U.S. and it went all the way to #1, the first time a British band had accomplished that feat since the Beatles did it with "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1964. And according to allmusic.com’s Stephen "Spaz" Schnee, judging Right Said Fred solely on the merits of "I’m Too Sexy" would be like hearing the Beatles for the first time by way of "Yellow Submarine" and thinking, That must be what all their records sound like. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that there probably isn’t anything equivalent to "A Day in the Life" or Abbey Road‘s side-two suite in RSF’s discography (yet).

Does anyone else remember "Don’t Talk Just Kiss," the U.S. follow-up to "I’m Too Sexy"? It didn’t make it into the Top 40, but it did get airplay. Much like "I’m Too Sexy," it’s fun but even more disposable, and I bet it sounded really good in dance clubs in the spring of ’92 if you were drunk and horny (the two generally go together), especially the chorus: "Don’t talk just kiss / We’re beyond words and sound / Don’t talk just kiss / Let your tongue fool around."

By the way, Fred was the guitarist; his brother Richard was the singer. "I’m Too Sexy," which will obviously be the lead in their obituaries, spent three weeks at #1.

1. To Be With You — Mr. Big
Was this the last gasp for hair-metal power ballads before grunge and alternative music shifted the whole damn paradigm for the remainder of the ’90s? (Sorry if you were more hard rock than hair metal, Mr. Big, and there’s not a lot of "power" in your acoustic triumph, but I’m still going to lump you into this category for the time being.) If that’s the case, it’s not a bad way to go out; I like the "Official 1992 Summer Camp Singalong" quality of "To Be With You." Lyrically, it flips the point of view of "Save the Best for Last"—in this case, Mr. Big is hoping his female best friend will save him for last. Actually, "best friend" doesn’t sound quite right. How about "underage groupie"? Now we’re talkin’! Yeah! High five! Wooo!

"To Be With You" was the San Francisco band’s largest hit (see what I did there?), holding the #1 position on the pop chart for three weeks. (Strangely, it didn’t even make a dent on the R&B chart. Your loss, black Americans!) They returned to the Top 40 a couple more times, but thanks in part to that whole "shifting paradigm" thing I mentioned, Mr. Big’s days of arena rockin’ were on the wane. But you know what else was responsible for Mr. Big’s marketplace shrinkage? I’ll tell you what:

Oh sure, call me a bitter ex-boyfriend, but I have my sources. The real "Mr. Big" has wielded his power over the years in ways you could never imagine. Follow the money, music lovers. Follow the money.

Well, that’s it for this week of Chart Attack! Thank you, Jason, for the opportunity to stroll down memory lane.

Thanks again, Robert, for attacking the charts so deftly, although if that hook from "I Love Your Smile" doesn’t leave my head by this evening, I’m deleting this post.  Everybody, don’t forget to check out Robert’s blog Mulberry Panda 96, and come back next week for our fourth – and last – guest-written CHART ATTACK!

  • Really nice job Robert, two things to add (that only severe guitar dorks know or would care about).
    As Wikipedia notes, the "break" in I’m Too Sexy is, inexplicably, the guitar riff from Jimi Hendrix’s "Third Stone From The Sun." I remember hearing I’m Too Sexy the first time and going "Huh?" I’ve still never heard anything about why that was done.
    Mr. Big were not just arena rockers. Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan were severe shredders of the Steve Vai/Yngwie/Shrapnel Records camp. Sheehan was the probably the preeminent "bass shredder" of the 80’s and did time with Vai in David Lee Roth’s Crazy From the Heat band. Gilbert was in a band called Racer X that none but guitar players have ever heard of. This makes it all the funnier that they needed to record a dippy acoustic ballad to break through, and were reduced to things like ""Wild World" covers to try and stay relevant. 
    All of that said, To Be With You is brilliant. Gentle harmony, pretty solo, Mellow Gold Key Change (and change BACK) at the end. Jason should cover it as an MG posting.

  • Excellent "Chart Attack," Robert! Some nice zingers in there and it’s clear that you’re a product of the 90s because you know these songs.  Me? I was hanging with that whole grunge thing, so my love of pop music was on hold around that time.

  • Michael, in my original draft I linked to your blog’s commentary on AOL’s 111 Wussiest Songs of All Time because I remembered you saying something about "To Be With You," but then I realized I needed to do some editing.  Have you found out since then what the line "Waited on a line of greens and blues" means?

    All Music talked a lot about how accomplished Gilbert and Sheehan were as musicians.  I’ll admit that "To Be With You" is the only Mr. Big song I remember hearing.

    I’m not a musician myself, so I love finding out the "severe guitar dork" information from you guys.  Keep it coming.  Now that you mention the riff in "I’m Too Sexy," I totally hear it!  May I add that Michael Jackson’s "Black and White" rips off the melody of Duran Duran’s "Hungry Like the Wolf" in certain spots?  Or am I crazy?  Does anyone else hear it?

  • Tevin Campbell, or Kevin Tampbell as I call him, is another in a long line of music stars I classify in the "is that a gay chick singing?" category. Say what you will about Geddy Lee, I think Kevin Tha Tevin has much more estrogen pumping through.He did a song called "Back To My World" which is particularly irksome, mostly because of the portion of the closing chorus where the back-up singers sing, to further support his requests for someone to ‘come on back to my world’, "giddy-up, giddy-up!!" How romantic! He solicits undercover dudes for pipe-cleanings AND digs it with horses. Oh, and he was on Fresh Prince too. That’s just not sexy a’tall.

  • Pete

    Another great Chart Attack-very well done, Robert!
    It’s kinda funny, but my opinion of those Amy Grant songs has completely reversed from yours; at the time I was really into them as I had been an Amy fan for a good 6 years prior to their release (my sister was big into contemporary Christian and exposed me to a bunch of it). But now, the instrumentation is just a little too cheesy pop for my tastes as I’ve gotten older (but I still agree they’re good pop songs). I also remember there was a bit of a buzz within the Christian community with the videos for ‘Every Heartbeat’ and ‘Good For Me’ as she’s seen cavorting in love with some random hottie model as opposed to her real husband (as if he would have been ever used). For shame! Then again, she may have taken a cue from this and that’s how she eventually left him for Vince Gill…
    I also loved "Diamonds and Pearls" at the time, but haven’t listened to that album in years. It just doesn’t hold the allure of his big Revolution albums for me.
    "I Love Your Smile" was the source of a joke between me and my roommate at the time as it was soooooo cheesy (but I think we secretly liked it but would never admit it). I’m gonna send him the link to this post as a reminder of it.
    I can totally see why you would think "Black or White" rips off "Hungry Like the Wolf", something I’d never noticed before.
    Lastly, I really enjoyed your post about "Charlies Angels" on your blog. Great stuff! Cheers.

  • Thanks, Py, but I’ll admit I had no memory of the Tevin Campbell and Atlantic Starr songs even after I heard them (again?).

    Thanks for the Amy Grant information, Pete.  I can see CCM fans being upset over Amy’s pop videos, but it’s not like she produced something akin to "Gett Off."  (Segue!)  I’ve never heard the "Diamonds and Pearls" album all the way through, but the title track and "Money Don’t Matter 2 Night" still hold up for me.

    I don’t think I would’ve admitted liking "I Love Your Smile" in 10th grade either.  There are almost too many cheesy moments to count in that song, and yet it still works overall.

    I watched "Charlie’s Angels" again last night (coincidentally, the "Charlie’s Angels" movie was on TBS at the same time).  It fascinates me how sloooow the chase sequences were.  Makes you realize MTV-style editing isn’t such a bad thing.  I’m also fascinated how cast members keep getting kidnapped on "Charlie’s Angels" but all they do in the kidnapper’s hideout is sit on a couch and read magazines.  Shouldn’t these police-academy-trained detectives be restrained in some way?!  Also, the solution to getting rid of the good guys on "Charlie’s Angels" is usually "Run them over with your car."

    Look at me — leaving long comments underneath my own long post.  I should go away for a while.

  • JT

    Wow  – funny you should mention Geddy Lee, Dw. I was listening to both him AND Amy Ray last night. Coincidence…???

  • What, TOGETHER?  And Amy Ray or Amy Grant?

  • Pete

    Nothing tops the "Angels In Chains" episode where they go undercover in a women’s prison to solve a missing person case. The shot of them opening their towels (away from the camera of course) to get ‘sprayed down’ with some sort of disinfectant was so risque for it’s time! Not to mention they all get chained together and forced to jiggle/run across a field to escape (which was copied in the movie during the opening credit montage).
    My roommate at the time (who was also a huge Prince fan) thought the song "Strollin’" from the D&P album was cheesy in a lite-FM (almost Mellow Gold?) way, with lines such asWe could rent some roller skatesWe could skate around the lakeIf we don’t know how, we’ll fake it, oh yeahPrince was definitely very happy at the time to write something this silly.

  • Pete

    Sorry, I seem to have problems with getting the spacing on both Firefox and IE for some reason…

  • BD

    Georgia in the house!Michael’s right on the oddity of those guys singing To Be With You. It’s like Ronnie James Dio, Scott Ian and Lars Ullrich uniting to do Boys II Men songs.

  • Emily

    AND Tevin Campbell is currently starring in "Hairspray; the musical" on Broadway!

  • Pete, you’re not the only one having problems posting paragraphs separated by spaces in Firefox. I haven’t seen “Angels in Chains” — Ion TV has skipped from the final season of “Charlie’s Angels” to the second season for some reason — but the episode last night was one of the Farrah-Fawcett-returns-for-a-few-episodes-so-that-ABC-won’t-sue-her-for-millions-of-dollars installments. Wow, four Angels in one episode! But seriously, Farrah, get that hair out of your eyes. From a 2007 perspective, she was the least attractive Angel. Is it just me?

    Emily, I saw something about Tevin being on Broadway when I was looking up information on him. Apparently he’s also working on a new album with producers like Scott Storch, and he won’t talk about his 1999 arrest.

  • HOLY SHIT. Thank you for the Shanice. I have been obsessed with the video for that song since forever.

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  • Joe John, do you know of any site on the Internet that has the video for “I Love Your Smile”? All I could find on YouTube were lip-synced “Soul Train” performances. I’d like to see if the video’s cheese content matches the song’s.

  • Elaine

    Robert, great job!! I really enjoyed this Chart Attack. We’re in the same generation but I’m slightly older — 1992 was the year I got married (in my early 20’s). So, maybe that’s why I don’t know some of these songs. I had bigger fish to fry that year. I can’t hum the Prince song for you, don’t recognize Shanice, don’t know who Tevin Campbell is, and am clueless about “Masterpiece.”

    I remember the top five, though — Eric’s ballad was really touching, I thought. It reminds me now of Robert Plant’s ode to his son, plus, Clapton was sorta famous for writing about his personal life. I have a theory that he turned to drugs and self-destructive behavior because he felt he couldn’t live up to the Clapton is God thing, but I’m speaking entirely out of my posterior when I say that. But, though I’m a fan, “Tears in Heaven” was obnoxiously overplayed in 1992. I remember Eric was embarrassed and doofy/awkward on his big Grammy night. It was as if to say, all my years of balls-out rock & roll, and I get awards for *this*? (I noted the same weird vibe when Fagen & Becker won for “Two Against Nature” years later.)

    Regarding the Vanessa Williams song: I think it was boosted by the video, partially shot in black and white. She looked gorgeous, and there was a string section, and people liked the idea of her having a comeback & genuine talent-based success after the whole Miss America debacle. If I’m not mistaken, she performed it live with a small string section on SNL that year, too. On the other hand, it’s a silly song, and I can’t stand the affected way she says the “s” sounds in “face to face.” shudder. Also, keep in mind that adolescent girls sang this song ad infinitum, a la Mariah and “Vision of Love.” Even today, any time that you hear either song in a public place, no doubt some woman who was a teenager in the early 90’s will sing it out loud, as if waiting for someone to discover her awesome singing talent. Think Antonella Barba.

    I can’t hear “To Be With You” without thinking of the porn star Savannah. Aside from her having dated one of the Mr. Big guys, I can’t think why this is so..but it is.

    There is a song that sounds like 1992 for me: “All I Want” by Toad the Wet Sprocket. If I hear one bar of that song I’m instantly taken back to that year. Was it a chart topper? I can’t remember.

  • Thanks, Elaine! According to allmusic.com, “All I Want” reached #15 on the pop chart sometime around August of ’92 but hit #4 on the “Top 40 Mainstream” chart. That song sounds like ’92 to me as well.

    I think Vanessa Williams deserved all the success she had in the early ’90s with music and later in the decade with movies. But “Just for Tonight” was a better ballad than “Save the Best for Last.”

    Maybe Clapton looked awkward at the Grammys because he was winning awards and having to give acceptance speeches for a song that he never would’ve written if his son hadn’t died. Or as David Cross’s character, the alternate-universe Clapton, says in the “Teardrop Award” sketch: “I wish my boy were here to share this with me … but then I wouldn’t have written the song, so scratch that.”

  • heather

    Yah, now I feel reeeeaaaalllly old. I only recognize "I’m too sexy", which was inescapable, and "tears in heaven" which caused me to buy my one and only clapton album.
    I was listening to Belly, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Shakespeare’s Sister, the Proclaimers, and Annie Lennox around ’92.
    And Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, and Big Country.

  • I sort of think that makes you more "awesome" than "old."

  • JT

    J – Amy R.A.Y. Two CDs you’ll know – Roll the Bones and "The Passage of Time" ;-) The latter has this very excellent version of "Bring it on Home" on it, as well as keyboard "Daniel." ;-)

  • Heather, it sounds like you had a lot of the same CDs as my brother in ’92.  He’s five years older than me and therefore was in college at the time.  When exactly did the Proclaimers start becoming popular over here in the States0?  Yes, "I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)" was a huge hit in ’93, five years after its original release, but my brother already had "Sunshine on Leith" in ’91 (still three years late at that point).  Were the Proclaimers slowly gaining prominence on college radio at the time? 

  • If I recall correctly. The Proclaimers were out with that album for quite awhile and got nothing for it. It wasn’t until the inexplicable tie-in with Johnny Depp flick "Benny And Joon" that the song really took off (if, again, my memory is correct)…

  • Which is to say, Aye Would Wolk Fave Honedred Mails.

  • I recall Ed and Steve of BNL being huge Proclaimers fans waaay before they made any kind of dent on the U.S. charts…

  • Yeah, Benny and Joon didn’t come out until the spring of ’93, and that summer the song seemed to be everywhere, but it’s from an album that came out in ’88.  Between ’88 and ’93 the Proclaimers gained some sort of following; I’m just not sure how big it was.  Their first album since ’88, Hit the Highway, came out in ’94, and I wonder if there was pressure from Chrysalis for the Reid twins to FINALLY produce a new album and do something with the momentum they’d gotten from Benny and JoonHit the Highway had some good songs, but no one seemed to buy it, and then the Proclaimers didn’t put out another album until 2001.  But since then, surprisingly, they’ve been more prolific, with albums in ’03 and ’05.

  • Lyle

    Great Chart Attack.  I laughed out loud several times.  I have to admit I really liked all these songs back then (but don’t remember Mr. Big).  "Diamonds and Pearls" was one of the first CDs I bought, way back when I joined the RCA/BMG Music Club.  And I thought the Vanessa Williams hit was a great redemption for her loss of the Miss America crown.  (You remember that, don’t you?).

  • Thanks, Lyle!  I’m glad you liked it.  I didn’t mention the Miss America scandal because Williams had already made people forget about it somewhat with her first album in 1988, which contained hits like "Dreamin’" and "The Right Stuff."  Her career trajectory is pretty remarkable when you think about it; you could argue that she’s the most easily identifiable Miss America of all time, yet she stepped down when the scandal erupted and was expected to fade into obscurity shortly thereafter.

  • I tend to blame Williams for the latest development in publicity, being how actors and musicians let their private lives and scandals be known to the public only weeks before their movie or CD debuts. Think about the real high-profile controversies lately, then tie in the release dates to the celebrities. You’ll be amazed.DwD

  • ‘Tis true nowadays, Dw, although Williams’s scandal happened in the summer of ’84, and her first album wasn’t released until ’88.  But if you want to count the guest-star appearance that Williams made on the Loni Anderson-Linda Carter show "Partners in Crime" in the fall of ’84, be my guest.

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