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AN EN VOGUE CHRISTMAS
Don’t Let Go (Love) is straight up one of the greatest songs of the ’90s, and En Vogue were one of the most successful female pop groups of all time: seven MTV Video Music Awards, five Soul Train Awards, six American Music Awards, and seven Grammy nominations – all of which may be officially stripped from the group if their Lifetime Television film ‘An En Vogue Christmas Movie’ is as soul-thumpingly terrible as the official bio suggests it may be.
Lifetime are well know for films of dubious quality and biographical credence. The recent Aaliyah film was naturally met with a repulsion usually reserved for war-crimes, while the Saved By The Bell telemovie just reminded everyone that Dustin Diamond is a bitter, sad old bitch now. However, with this film premiering on the station tomorrow – bafflingly early for a film with ‘Xmas’ as the central theme – it’s becoming evident the Aaliyah scandal was a smokescreen designed to slip this one past the taste censors.
Thankfully it isn’t ‘scripted’ in the traditional sense, but the below bio still manages to make the whole production sound like an Olsen twins film, and not one of the good Olsen twins films like To Grandma’s House We Go, or It Takes Two or How The West Was Fun, or Switching Goals, or Double Double, Toil and Trouble or New York Minute or When In Rome or Holiday In The Sun – but one of the bad ones, like The Challenge.
“Over the years, the funky divas of En Vogue have gone their separate ways, until they are asked to perform a benefit concert to save the club that made them stars. They put aside their hesitations to reunite for the special night, but first must overcome their challenging history with Marty, their former manager and the man responsible for breaking them up. In the spirit of the holidays, the ladies find forgiveness and come together for an epic En Vogue Christmas concert to keep the club from closing its doors forever.”
Way to ruin the surprise happy ending! The trade-off for fans is that the funky divas are also recording a new album with producers Foster and Elroy, who put En Vogue together back in 1989, but – more crucially – wrote the theme tune to Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper.
WORSHIP WITH MONTELL JORDAN
Back in 1995, Montell Jordan made a solemn vow in his hit single This Is How We Do It that he’d “never come wack on an old school track”, and boy has he kept his word, even going so far as to leave behind the secular world of honeys for the spiritual life – becoming a born-again Christian pastor in Atlanta, Georgia.
‘This Is How We Do It’ was very much a one-hit wonder in Australia for the other-other MJ (despite his slinky follow up ‘Somethin For Da Honeyz’ charting), and most people aren’t even aware of the artist; death of the author and all that. The song has certainly endured though: it is still played in most generic dance clubs, on most nights, in most parts of the (Western) world, and its bouncy, hooky, non-offensiveness has even managed to see it crossover to oldies radio – a slippery slope that ends with your Nan rapping ‘Bitches Ain’t Shit’ next Xmas.
The fifth or sixth greatest thing about ‘This Is How We Do It’ is the huge humble-brag disguised as a down-and-out, rags-to-riches story in the breakdown bridge. Check it out:
Once upon a time in ’94
Montell made no money and life sure was slow
All they said was 6’8″ he stood
And people thought the music that he made was good
It sucked back then for Monty – all they commented on was his impressive physical stature and good body of artistic work. Nowadays Montell Jordan realises the body is just a vessel for our heavenly souls, so he’s gone and scored a job as Lead Worship Pastor at the Victory World Church in Atlanta Georgia. This means that although you have metaphorically been worshipping at the alter of Montell Jordan for years, now you can do so in actuality. It’s like how the song ‘Ironic’ is actually, in itself, the deepest form of irony. What’s more, he is listed on their public directory, which means you can actually call up Pastor Jordan with your earthly concerns. Seriously, his number is (770) 849-9400 ext. 401. That’s Montell Jordan’s extension number, at work.
A few important things to note before calling. Ext. 230 gets you through to Worship Pastor Todd McVicker, who as far as I’m aware, didn’t write any ’90s hit jams. It’s probably a sore spot so I wouldn’t raise it with him. Another sore spot might occur if you dial ext. 256 and get one Richard Garza, who has the burden of being ‘Music Director’ at the only Georgian church where one of the pastors has had a #1 single through Def Jam. That usually only happens in NYC.
Of course, in this world where Twitter links us to previously untouchable celebrities – or at least offers the illusion that this is what’s occurring – this level of access may seem less than exciting, but still… we shouldn’t be able to just call up Montell Jordan should we? Email seems more appropriate.
Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting people call up, politely ask for Pastor Jordan in the most placid of tones, and then belt out “This is how we do aaaiiihhht” while dragging the final word over six or seven syllables… but if you do manage to get through, please let us know.
BOYZ II MEN’S NEW AUTOTUNED SINGLE
Autotuning Boyz II Men, whose entire appeal rests on their vocal ability, their natural harmonies and one other important element – which we’ll get to – is akin to fixing some of Michael Jackson’s dance moves in post with CGI. They named their debut album Cooleyhighharmony because they met at Cooley High, and they did a lot of harmonies. It’s their main thing – along with red sporting caps. But it seems in this post-808s and Heartbreaks, T-Pain-at-the-Enmore era, the only real way for an RnB vocal group to stand out is to warp what was once an incredible display of vocal mastery, rich with range and resonance, into what sounds like a bunch of robots singing into an industrial wall fan. Of course the real blame rests with Cher.
Even less forgivable is the complete absence of a spoken-word penance/plead/seduction in the bridge. A hallmark of all their great ’90s hits, the new song doesn’t feature a syllable of impossibly deep-voiced talk. It’s like they don’t want a hit single at all! Here’s are some past examples, edited in some spots for brevity because these dudes can chat.
‘End Of The Road’:
“Girl I’m here for you.
All those times of night when you just hurt me
And just ran out with that other fella,
Baby I knew about it, I just didn’t care.
You just don’t understand how much I love you, do you?
I’m here for you.
I’m not out to go out and cheat on you all night
Just like you did baby, but that’s all right.
Hey, I love you anyway,
And I’m still gonna be here for you ’till my dying day, baby.”
‘On Bended Knee’:
“Baby I’m sorry.
Please forgive me for all the wrong I’ve done.
Please come back home girl.
I know you put all your trust in me,
I’m sorry I let you down,
Please forgive me.”
‘To The Limit’:
Baby, the things I’d do for you.
Take you out for a night on the town,
And after I’d run you some bath water,
With some bubbles.
Do you like bubbles?
Yeah I’d dry you off,
And lotion your body down with some baby magic,
You’d like that wouldn’t you?
I’d wash your hair.
I’d do anything you want me to.
You know I don’t care.
‘You’re Not Alone’:
Girl, this Christmas you won’t be alone.
You don’t have to cry,
You don’t have to worry about a thing.
All the gifts that you wanted this year are yours.
You don’t have to worry about him no more,
‘Cause he’s gone.
Don’t live in the past, baby,
I’m your future.”
This was so much a part of Boyz II Men’s sound that when they birthed an entire industry of knock-offs, this was a key element in the emulation. After Bruce Lee died, the Chinese kept pumping out films made for the international market, with step-in fighters/actors named Bruce Li, etc. because they assumed us stupid Westerners couldn’t tell the difference, just because we were stupid Westerners and we couldn’t tell the difference. In a similar vein, here are two songs most people still assume are Boys II Men joints.
POCKET FULL OF KRYPTONITE IS FINALLY AVAILABLE ON GREEN VINYL
Bruce Springsteen talks about how the first snare hit on ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ is like somebody kicking open the doors to your mind. This track’s long, rambling tales of winners and losers, snakes and sharks, and highways named after numbers served as a fairly tight template for Bruce over the years. A similarly mind-blowing moment happened to thousands of giggling 6-12 year olds in 1992 when the Spin Doctors’ kiss-off ‘Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong’ opened with the line “It’s been a whole lot easier since the bitch left town” and the radio totally left the word ‘bitch’ in. They also sometimes left in the later line, “I hope you heard this song, and it pissed you off” too, which was a bonus treat for swear-deprived youngsters in the early ’90s.
Follow-up single ‘Two Princes’ was a massive commercial radio breakthrough, and is better known to a number of Australians as, “Oh, that fucking K-Mart ad song?”, which is a shame because it’s a great, odd pop song that deserves to be divorced from this fate. Still, in 1993, that song scored a wash of commercial radio support, and soon the little-known NYC jam band’s debut album Pocket Full Of Kryptonite had sold 6 million copies and birthed a sea of imitators dressed in burlap sacks and daisy garb doing vaguely jammy, funky, hippy, wah-dripping pop music. When Cobain shot himself (spoiler alert for anyone yet to see the horrible Last Days. Also, I had a ‘Gus Van Xanax’ joke bubbling that didn’t quite land properly), it was the ultimate rejection of the world and its shortcomings; all other grunge seemed timid by comparison and the genre’s impact soon faded. A similar thing happened to the ‘Spin Doctors’ look once The Counting Crows appeared a few years later in a shock of hair and awkward twirl-dancing.
I guess there are two points being made here. One is that Spin Doctors’ debut album is being released on green vinyl this month, and you can order it here, and the other is that Bob Dylan gets all the credit for misogynistic kiss-off tunes.
BREAKING: SHANNEN DOHERTY SINGING PHARRELL’S ‘HAPPY’ IN A CAR WITH HER MUM, OR ‘MOM’ AS SHE SPELLS IT.
Nov 11, 2014 at 3:22pm PST