Monday, 5 September 2016

ESP #LostInMusic Goes Back to '95!


When I was trying to decide on focal points for features, doing something based around the launch date of EricaSharlette's Purview seemed inevitable.

Since LostInMusic is all about getting lost within a musical moment (see the definition above), the more I considered various albums, the more nostalgic I got, and so the idea dawned on me - why not go back to 1995? Slap bang in the middle of my personal favourite musical decade, I could only see an endless list of musical options. How was I going to do this? How was I going to shape this into a piece? Then inspiration struck...

'9 Singles and 5 Albums that Impacted the Music World in 1995'

That was it. That was my angle! I finally figured it out, and instantly began combing the net for the best of what came out that year. Here goes...
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Singles

9. Wonderwall - Oasis

I was never the biggest Oasis fan. Okay; they were talented and had some good songs, but their music was completely overshadowed for me by their hideous, arrogant, childish, lout-like behaviour. Despite all of that, even I couldn't ignore the might of the monster that was this song. The simplicity of the monochrome video in the empty warehouse space. The haunting guitar riff on repeat. Everything about it stripped away the crap, and made it about the music; something that I personally felt they rarely did. It was powerful, and it was moving - it was a solid moment in music history...Until all the clown weirdness started with the showgirl and the saws. But even despite that; the lyrics win out. They are desperate and resounding, and cut you to the core. The pain of a broken heart versus the pride of man are juxtaposed, and you almost feel like that's what all the clown nonsense is there to do - detract from the seriousness of the matter by acting a fool in front of 'the lads'. But hey, that's just my interpretation of it...what do you think?



8. This Is How We Do It - Montell Jordan

One of the original party anthems of the nineties, that can still raise a roof today; this monster debut put Montell Jordan on the map. The South Central native was the second artist to sign to Def Jam's newly established label (a baby-faced, 17-year-old LL Cool J was the first). A new jack swing artist, Jordan carried the torch first lit by the likes of Teddy Riley, Jodeci, and Guy, from the early part into the middle of the decade. Developing a reputation as a bad boy for his extra-marital antics, after 10 albums, he went on to become a born again Christian, and has become a Church Pastor. Flashback now then, to when he was the life of the party, when this was how he did it...




7. Freak Like Me - Adina Howard

I found Adina Howard groundbreaking. To my knowledge, not since Millie Jackson in the 1970's, had music had such an outspoken, raw individual, so willing to go to the heart of sexual topics with the same gusto as a man. Never had a woman come out and said that it's ok for a woman to be sexual and say what she wants loud and clear like a man. Young as I was at the time (a chubby teen), I still thought it was an amazing thing to see. Women were allowed to flirt and hint in music, but they were not to be upfront - it wasn't considered ladylike. In my case however; for her bravery if nothing else, I wanted to be Adina Howard when I grew up!




6. Gangsta's Paradise - Coolio

This was a global moment when popular culture stopped to salute Hip Hop in collective awe. Gangsta's Paradise was the lead single from the Dangerous Minds movie soundtrack. Capturing the essence and mentality of black youths in America's inner cities at the time, the song talks of not expecting to have a future outside of the streets, so not striving for one, and the uptight ivory teacher who comes out of nowhere, having no concept of what they have to go through to stay alive. Played by Michelle Phieffer, the film topped box offices around world, as did the soundtrack and single, both going to the top of the charts for several weeks and in some cases, months, at a time.



5. I Wish - Skee-Lo

This song always meant summertime to me. I used to have a red and black double cassette deck (exposing my age takes some bravery). Until I got a proper mixtape with Skee-Lo on the playlist, I used to use the cassette deck to record songs off of the radio, and make my own mixtapes. This definitely appeared on a few of them! It was also the first time that I realised Hip Hop could be lighthearted and funny; it didn't all have to be angry and aggressive. For me, I Wish was a pivotal moment.




4. Fu-Gee-La - The Fugees


The Fugees were the moment when Hip Hop broke through the glass ceiling and joined the respected mainstream. They not only joined the official charts, they ruled it - it was a beautiful time. In addition, the visual, storytelling manner that the Pras, Wyclef and Lauryn had, made them engaging and understood. They painted visual pictures like Picasso. What they said, you could see; and I believe that could very well be the reason that they were so accepted. No matter how good the artist was before them, unless you could get your audience to stop, listen and imagine your picture, then you're not going to communicate with them. The Fugees had the power and the talent to do that - something about them made you sit up and pay attention. The Fugees are interwoven Hip Hop and mainstream - a feat not performed by any other artist until that time.




3. Waterfalls - TLC

Like Hip Hop, R&B had a glass ceiling of its own, that the likes of TLC did more than their fair share in breaking. The universal message shared in the lyrics resonated worldwide, and made history with it's lasting impact. Reaching the top five of the charts and staying there for several weeks. Dealing with the effects of illegal drugs, promiscuity, and HIV/AIDS awareness, the video was praised for its bravery in tackling such difficult subjects, and doing so without causing offence by 'preaching'. Here's why it had such a monumental effect:





2. Scream - Janet and Michael Jackson

Let's forget for a second that this was, and as far as I am aware, still is, the most expensive music video of all time. Let's forget for a moment, all the silly controversy that surrounded the video at the time, that people wouldn't bat an eye about today; 'Ooooh, Janet grabbed her breasts, Ooooh, she used her middle finger'...Can we just recognise the greatest male and female entertainers of all time, coming together for four minutes and forty-seven seconds of sheer musical and cinematic delight? For the first time, Michael and Janet join forces the way I had always wanted them to do, since the day I was born, and they just serve. Anyway you like it, they gave it to you, and they left nobody hungry. Enjoy one of my personal favourite moments in musical history, beyond the year that we're here to celebrate, for yourself...



1. You're Makin Me High - Toni Braxton

My obsession with this song is now 19 years old. It's a massive tune that I remember playing absolutely everywhere. Even my poor Mother knows the lyrics off by heart - that's how often it got spun in my household at the time (...and since). It was a marked turn for Braxton herself. Coming back from her bankruptcy and legal woes with her former record label, Arista; Toni had a brand new attitude. She was sassy, she was sexy, and she was grown, with something to say, finally. Prior to that, with her first album, she didn't speak much, and thus we, as an audience, didn't really get much of a feel for who Toni, the person, actually was. We sure knew by the end of that Secrets album though! Take it away Ms. B!

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Yours Truly in my debating days, circa 1995

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Albums

Looking back at the albums that came out that year, whittling my selection down to only five was by far - no easy task. I even debated slipping a few in there as joint picks, but figured I would end up with at least ten, and so in the end, by sheer mental force, here are my top five albums of 1995 - let's see if you agree with me...

5. HIStory - Past, Present And Future - Book I - Michael Jackson


'HIStory: Past, Present And Future - Book I' - Michael 
Any promotional tour that requires Tower Bridge to be raised, so that a giant, life-size statue of you can be floated down the River Thames, drawing in such a huge crowd that it makes the 6 and 10pm news, is epic enough (see what I did there music afficionados - Epic Records, MJ's former label?) to earn a place on this list. When you add the new music additions to it, mammoth tracks like Scream (see above), Stranger in Moscow, Earth Song and You Are Not Alone; it's a nobrainer that this should top any list of albums of the year. The only reason I've kept it low this time around, is that we also got a medley of older songs re-released with it. Nevertheless, this album was not only a great compilation, but another huge entry in musical history.


4. R. Kelly - R. Kelly



'R. Kelly' - R. Kelly
Somewhere around the time of his teenage marriage (I'm kidding...it was after that), Kelz found inspiration in his muse, and came out with my favourite album of his. Also around the time that he was writing for Michael Jackson, amongst a few other big names, he was penning tracks like Hump Bounce, Not Gonna Hold On, You Remind Me Of Something, and the incomparable Down Low (Nobody Has To Know) for himself. An unchallenged classic in my humble opinion.





3. Daydream - Mariah Carey

If you were a loyal follower of this blog from 'the early days', then you will know that I consider this lady to be the greatest female vocalist of my generation, since LaDonna Summer herself, in fact. This is not my personal favourite album from her, hence my middle of the road placement, but I include it for two reasons. A) for the obvious - were it not for her secret 'bait and switch' shanannigans with ignorant record bosses when it came to the album's lead single Fantasy, not only would we not have gotten that amazing ODB verse that gave us that iconic line - come on, don't pretend you don't know it, all together now


'Daydream' - Mariah Carey
"Me and Mariaaaah, go back like babies and pacifiiiiiahs!

But B) popular music as a whole would have suffered a blow - because we wouldn't have the now standard format of singers and rappers blending talents on a track. For me, neither of those is really why this album is important though. What made this album instrumental in my music history, is that this was the moment when Mariah started to find her own voice and speak to her audiences in the way that she wanted to. The RnB influence was there since her eponymous album, but she was finding her voice like a fledgling bird, learning to stand on her own two feet.


2. The Show, The After Party, The Hotel - Jodeci


'The Show, The After Party, The Hotel' - Jodeci
Once upon a time, Jodeci ruled RnB. Debut and sophmore albums, Forever My Lady and Diary of A Mad Band respectively, had set the quartet up as the kings of the genre, and despite being the bad boys that they were, they could do no wrong. So when they came along with The Show, The After Party; the frenzy surrounding them reached boiling point. Freek'n You was stratospheric, reaching No.17 on the UK charts, and remaining in the music scale for six weeks - their most successful single to date. The quality of the collection captured the zeitgeist of popular music at the time, ruling the RnB airways for most of the year. Bring On Da Funk, S-More, Get On Up, Pump It Back and Can We Flo are just some of the reasons that this set will go down in history as one of the greatest RnB albums of ALL time.

1. Faith - Faith Evans

There was no question over my choice for the No.1 spot. A phenomenal breakthrough artist, Faith Evans came out of nowhere with a voice that challenged Mary J. Blige's for the Queen of Hip Hop Soul title, but was content to just settle in her own niche spot. Mesmerising in a way that captured the essence of Soul, with a raspy voice that laid her heart on the line, and put her emotions into everything - this was a debut that had you hooked from the first strains of the Faith intro. No Other Love, You Used To Love Me (with a remix that featured a rap verse from future husband The Notorious B.I.G.), Don't Be Afraid, and of course the exceptional smash Soon As I Get Home, made sure this was an album well worthy of the several award nominations it received. One of my favourite albums of ALL Time - Faith by Faith Evans is my top pick for album of 1995.


'Faith' - Faith Evans
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And there you have it - the first LostInMusic of EricaSharlette's Purview has come to an end! Thank you for getting lost with me, I had a ball, I don't know about you - but I'd sure like to; share your thoughts on my selections below. Have some suggestions of your own? Let me hear them on YOUR stage, down there! There's still more to come today, we have TalkOnCorners, where I discuss Baz Luhrmann's 'The Get Down'; and this week's WaveRunner Sucker For Pain, by Lil Wayne / Wiz Khalifa / Imagine Dragons and more. The Party doesn't stop - it's LAUNCH DAY Everybody! See you back here in two hours!

Until the next...
ES