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From The Vault: Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men – ‘One Sweet Day’

After a brief rest on the bench, From The Vault is back this week with one of the most successful releases of the 1990′s. It’s Mariah Carey‘s melismatic ‘One Sweet Day’, her smash duet with R&B’s finest Boyz II Men.

The second single lifted from Mimi’s blockbuster LP ‘Daydream’, ‘Day’s production was cooked up  by Carey and former fervent collaborator Walter Afanasieff. It was written by the dynamic duo alongside the R&B quad about specific loved ones who passed away. Most notably, it was also penned with people affected by the AIDS epidemic in mind – in a bid to raise awareness.

On a chart front, the single remains a landmark to this day; it debuted at #1 – which was the singer’s second consecutive single to do so. Yet, most importantly, it is the longest running #1 single on Billboard Hot 100 of all time, totaling an impressive 16 consecutive weeks at the top. It became Mimi’s tenth chart-topper on that tally and the Boyz’ fourth.

(Fun fact: the single replaced Whitney Houston’s ‘Exhale (Shoop Shoop)’ at #1 and was replaced by Celine Dion’s ‘Because You Love Me’. Needless to say, power ballads staged a “chart stampede” during the mid-nineties).

A true world smash, it managed to peak inside the Top 10 in many European countries and remains a fixture on “talent shows” all around the globe.

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With the success and the critical acclaim the single and its parent album had received, it was believed Mariah was a shoe-in for a Grammy sweep after being nominated 6 times in 1996, but all those assumptions were cut short when the ‘Outside’ vocalist went home empty-ended on Grammy night. An injustice if we’ve ever seen one.

Given that Mimi and the Boyz were enjoying gargantuan success in their own rights, busy schedules meant both parties didn’t have time to shoot a proper music video for the single. So in order to make the most of their tenure together, Larry Jordan was in charge of documenting the conception of the track. This edited footage was turned into the track’s “video”.

Its raw quality suited the heartfelt song to the tee, choosing to put the emphasis on the group bonding and the song’s almost other-worldly vocals, rather than drowning everything in “glamorous” and “sophisticated” sets – ala some of Mariah’s more outlandish visuals since her post-Butterfly days.

With “The New Era” nigh, we can’t wait for Ms. Carey-Cannon to unleash it. Did ‘Triumphant (Get ‘Em)’ make the cut? What about ‘Almost Home’? Are we in for some more Adult Contemporary numbers in the vein of ‘#Beautiful’? Are there any other collaborations to help her on the charts? We guess it’s a matter of time until we find out. Hopefully.

Still, we’re hoping her ever-loyal ‘Lambily’ and we – over at TGJ HQ – aren’t the only ones anticipating new Mimi. Album and single sales will tell, ay?

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From The Vault: No Doubt – ‘Don’t Speak’

Our From The Vault pick of the week comes courtesy of American Pop rebels No Doubt and their signature smash, ‘Don’t Speak’.

Written by lead vocalist Gwen Stefani about her breakup with the band’s bassist Tony Kanal after a seven-year relationship, ‘Speak’ served as the third single from the group’s classic LP ‘Tragic Kingdom’.

It’s interesting to point out that despite the continued acclaim the cut has been receiving ever since its release in 1996, the single NEVER charted on the Billboard Hot 100 as it wasn’t ever released physically which was an essential requirement at the time. It goes to show that the charts aren’t the only mean to evaluate how music resonates with an audience.

Still, the track held the top of the Airplay chart in the US and was a the first of many worldwide touchdowns for the colorful quad reaching the Top 5 in France and Germany and hitting the #1 spot in the UK, Ireland and Australia.

The track’s accompanying VMA-winning video was directed by frequent collaborator Sophie Muller and sees the band performing the song in a garage while footage of them killing it during a live show are shown as well. The clip  also sheds light on the press’ fascination with Stefani versus the band as a unit. (Side note: whatever Ms. Stefani is drinking, she needs to remember sharing is caring. She looks as youthful today, aged  43,  as she did in this vid!)

With No Doubt’s latest effort ‘Push And Shove’ failing to find chart success, we hear the Californian quartet is already hard at work on a new project as well as a worldwide tour. Hopefully they learn from the “mistakes” they made with said album and hit the world with a collection of records that will cater to a global audience without compromising their unique sound too much.

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with this timeless power ballad…

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From The Vault: SWV – ‘Right Here’

Our From The Vault pick this week comes courtesy of SWV and their 90′s classic ‘Right Here (Human Nature Mix)’.
Originally a single from the ladies 1992 debut ‘It’s About Time’, a remixed version sampling Michael Jackson‘s ‘Human Nature’ from the iconic ‘Thriller‘ LP was released a year later. Helmed by the great Teddy Riley (with additional production by Pharrell Williams), the reworking remains one of the trio’s most successful singles and undeniably their signature song. (Side note: did you recognize Mr Williams during the infamous “S, the double, the U, the V…” hook?)
The song was also used as a promotional track for the movie ‘Free Willy’
As far as charts are concerned, the track was a home run for the Sisters With Voices, spending 7 weeks at the top of the Billboard R&B Singles Chart and peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A true worldwide hit, it reached the third position of the UK Official Charts and the Top 10 of many other European countries.
Directed by Lionel C. Martin, the beach-set visual sees the ladies horse-riding, fishing and chilling in front of bonfires alongside their musicians. The overall romantic and carefree vibe of the video is a perfect fit for the New Jack Swing laid back groove. A version of the clip features footage from the King Of Pop performing the original on tour.
Without a doubt the main inspiration for groups like Destiny’s Child and Danity Kane, groups like SWV, Xscape, TLC and En Vogue factually don’t get the recognition they should. Weirdly enough it is the UK that keeps referencing them with acts such as Little Mix, Sugababes/MKS and Stooshe. To be fair, it is not like the US is overflowing with Urban bands, male or female.
While we wait for the next generation of talented groups to impact the charts, we invite you to join us celebrating this timeless gem.

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From The Vault: Aretha Franklin & George Michael – ‘I Knew You Were Waiting For Me’

Back in 1987, two artists from two different arena’s joined forces to deliver a smash hit single which serves this week’s From The Vault pick: it’s Aretha Franklin and George Michael‘s still-stunning ‘I Knew You Were Waiting For Me’.

‘Waiting’ was written by Simon Climie and Dennis Morgan for Franklin’s 1986 release, ‘Aretha’ and saw freshly-solo-star Michael collaborating with one of his idol. After the bubblegum-fest that was Wham!, George started channeling his inner Soul Man which can be heard in this track as he has no problem whatsoever keeping up with the greatest who ever done it, the Queen of Soul herself.
A US-meets-UK collaboration, the track lived up to its international status as it was a chart-topper in both those countries. On the UK front it was Michael’s third in a row and weirdly enough Aretha’s only #1 record to this day; the duet was her seventeenth Top 10 hit and Michael’s first since calling it quits with Wham. It was also a #1 record in Ireland and Australia and a Top 10 in Canada and Germany.
The video is primarily set in a screening room where past videos of the seasoned vocalists are shown alongside footage of notable duos like Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell and Sonny & Cher. Midway through, Aretha and George get together and jam to their uplifting tune resulting in an iconic moment in the vein of those they paid homage to in the first place.
“Unusual” pairings like this excite in earnest. Indeed the collision of two worlds on one common ground represents what music should be all about: an art that brings people together. With the likes Miguel and Kelly Clarkson reportedly “trying to make it happen”, let’s pray other artists follow suit. We’d be lying if we said we hadn’t made a few dream combos in our heads already (Janet Jackson and Bebel Gilberto, Mariah and ), but we want YOU to tell us:
What would be your dream pairings of artists from different genres?
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From The Vault: Toni Braxton – ‘Another Sad Love Song’

From The Vault time-travels 20 years back this week with a Grammy winning single from a TGJ favourite: our pick is ‘Another Sad Love Song‘ by Toni Braxton.

The first single from the diva’s 1993 debut self-titled LP, ‘Song’ was helmed by former dynamic duo of LA Reid and Babyface - who played a crucial role in Toni’s earlier career. With those silky smooth vocals, Braxton tells the tale of a girl who is not over her ex yet and is reminded of that every time a love song is played on the radio.
Launching the album’s campaign with this track proved to be a wise decision as not only it was a chart smash – #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, #2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart and #15 in the UK – but it also scored her her first of many Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammy awards. (Side note: she won the Best New Artist gong on the very same night)
The video, directed by Ralph Ziman, conveys a similar classy vibe as the track and sees a short-haired Toni singing in the rain on a vintage New York-like street. Kudos to the ‘Un-break My Heart‘ belle for looking as stunning today as in this visual.
Clearly one of the saddest news to hit the headlines this year was Ms. Braxton’s impending retirement from music after “falling out of love with it”. When we think about it we kinda sorta get where she’s coming from. With the industry being a far cry from how it used to be two decades ago, now prioritizing trash over class, it must be rather difficult for the vocal gemstone to fit in and find excitement especially when she already has a full plate on the personal side, as evidenced with WeTV’s Braxton Family Values.
Still, we remain optimistic at the (slim) prospect of future releases from our favorite contralto. And in the event that new material really isn’t on the horizon, at least we will always have her impressive catalogue to cherish.
Be it fast or slow, it doesn’t let go and it’s all because of you and your talent, Toni!

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From The Vault: 702 – ‘Where My Girls At?’

Next up on From The Vault is a R&B gem ‘Where My Girls At?’ – courtesy of the ladies from 702.

The track, produced and written by Keybeats and TGJ favorite Missy Elliott, was the first single from the ladies sophomore set, the aptly titled ’702′ released in 1999.

At a time when mozzarella-Pop from the likes of Britney, Christina and N’SYNC was the tastiest genre for radio programmers, ‘Girls’ managed to reach the higher tiers of the Billboard Hot 100 and Hip-Hop/R&B charts peaking at #4 and #3 respectively. Though statistically not a worlwide hit -albeit hitting #22 in the UK – we firmly believe it is a classic and no 90′s R&B themed party would be complete without this.

Like many at the time, the single’s promotional video directed by Billie Woodruff was highly inspired by the “Matrix craze” that was only in beginning stages back then.

{Sidenote: we really dig this vid, but the dancer’s outfits during the last sequence remain a big NO!}

With R&B seemingly on the up, could 2013 be the year where vocal harmony groups make a comeback in the mainstream charts? Nothing would make us happier. The likes of MKS and Stooshe are flying the flag in the UK, now we’re keen to see who will carry the torch for girl groups in the US and serve up tunes as enduring as ‘Where My Girls At?” in this day and age.

While we wait, we have to hit “replay” on this one.

 From The Vault: 702   Where My Girls At?

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From The Vault: The Fugees – ‘Fu-Gee-La’

From The Vault is back this week with a yet another classic. We’re taking you back to the year 1996 when a one of a kind trio released their breakthrough single. We’re talking ‘Fu-Gee-La’ by the exceptional Fugees.

The first single from their magnum-opus and Hip-Hop landmark ‘The Score’, the tune was largely based on an interpolation of blue-eyed-Soul master Teena Marie’s ‘Ooh La La La’ as well as a clever sample of ‘If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right’ by Jazz man Ramsey Lewis. Produced by ever-present Salaam Remi, this is the song that introduced the three lyricists’ impeccable flows as well as Ms. Hill’s smooth vocals to the general public.
Charting at #29 and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts respectively, the single managed to garner some worldwide recognition placing at #21 in the UK and peaking at the 6th position of the German charts.
Those chart positions might not be as impressive as their next single ‘Killing Me Softly’ (which went on to hit #1 practically everywhere it was released), yet ‘Fu-Gee-La’ remains the dynamic trio’s best selling single in the US.
For its accompanying video, the band turned to director Guy Guillet which resulted in a cinematic visual set in the island of Jamaica where Pras, Wyclef and Lauryn all portray robbers on the run.
The shots showing the artists interacting and just vibing of each other leaves us with a bittersweet taste of nostalgia. For unlike many of today’s act’s, the Refugee Camp’s output has always been of such musical and lyrical substance, yet petty squabbles and personal drama makes a reunion highly unlikely.
Still with ‘The Score’ sounding as fresh today as 17 years ago (we know; time flies right?) we are positive it will remain an inspiration for music lovers of today and tomorrow.
The Fugees, we thank you, we salute you!
fugees fu gee la how many mics 12 e1364762790223 From The Vault: The Fugees   Fu Gee La

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