Welcome back to another Hot R&B Singles review. Let’s get started.
Love Me Down-Freddie Jackson: The first song to hit number one on the R&B charts of 1991 comes from Freddie Jackson and it’s called Love Me Down. It’s a fine enough ballad. The singing is good, the production is good, and it’s pretty inoffensive all around. Not really a song I would go back to, but I don’t mind it. I give it a 3/5.
The First Time-Surface: The last time I talked about Surface wasn’t exactly a positive one. Their hit Shower Me With Your Love was on my worst of 1989 list. And their big hit The First Time was a dishonorable mention on my worst of 1991 list. Revisiting that song, it’s not as bad as I thought it was, but it’s still another R&B ballad of the times that I wouldn’t necessarily revisit again. It’s well-sung and it sounds nice. I give it a 3/5.
Love Makes Things Happen-Pebbles & Babyface: It exists. I give it a 2.5/5.
You Don’t Have To Worry-En Vogue: You Don’t Have To Worry is another really good song from En Vogue with more good singing and a dope ass new jack swing beat. Not one of their best songs, but there are things to enjoy about it. I give it a 4/5.
I’ll Give All My Love To You-Keith Sweat: In terms of Keith Sweat songs, I’ll Give All My Love To You is just alright. He’s made better songs, but for a smooth slow jam, it does what it need to do competently. I give it a 3/5.
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)-C+C Music Factory ft Freedom Williams and Martha Wash: Now this is a classic right here. This is one of those songs that defines the 90s and was featured in almost everything. Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) by C+C Music Factory is a dance classic from the moment you hear “everybody dance now.” The beatwork is crazy, the guitar riffs stay in your head for days, Martha Wash is a phenomenal vocalist (though they did her dirty when it came to shooting the music video), and Freedom Williams as a rapper ain’t bad. What more could I say about this song? It was on my best of 1991 list for a reason. I give it a 5/5.
All The Man That I Need-Whitney Houston: And now, we move on to a number one Whitney Houston hit in All The Man That I Need. This is the Whitney that I like, the ballads that give Whitney breathing room to shine vocally. She sounds great and the production sounds beautiful. It’s another great Whitney song and I give it a 4.5/5.
Written All Over Your Face-The Rude Boys: The Rude Boys are an R&B group from Cleveland, Ohio, who were discovered by Gerald Levert. They had some minor success in the early 90s with songs like Written All Over Your Face, which won a Billboard Music Award. I wish I liked this more, but it didn’t exactly wow me. The production wasn’t that great, it seems like they were trying to mix old-school sounds with modern ones (at the time) and it just doesn’t mesh well. The singing’s pretty good for the most part, but they don’t make up for the underwhelming sound of the music. It’s not bad, just average at best. I give it a 2.5/5.
I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)-Hi-Five: I Like The Way (The Kissing Game) leans more towards the poppier side of R&B, but you know what? I don’t mind it. I like the breezy production and the guys of Hi-Five are good singers, especially Tony Thompson (R.I.P.). It’s a perfect song to hit number one. It’s sweet in a good way. I give it a 4/5.
Do Me Again-Freddy Jackson: It’s a fine enough lovemaking slow jam that does what it needs to competently. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s a 3/5.
Wrap My Body Tight-Johnny Gill: Another great sex track with some slamming new jack swing production from Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and an A+ performance from Johnny Gill. I really like this. I give it a perfect 5/5.
Whatever You Want-Tony, Toni, Toné: It’s a good slow jam from Tony, Toni, Toné, though not one of their best. Seriously, check out their album The Revival, it’s really dope. I give Whatever You Want a 4/5.
I’m Dreamin’-Christopher Williams: This song was played during the end credits of New Jack City and was part of the movie’s soundtrack. So how is I’m Dreamin’ by Christopher Williams? It’s really good. It’s dated as hell, especially when you hear the production, but it still knocks. As a singer, Christopher Williams is pretty good. He’s not just a singer, he was also in the movie as one of Nino Brown’s assistants. Fun fact: his aunt is jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald and his cousin is Al B. Sure. That’s one heck of a family right there. Also, he dated Halle Berry and Stacey Dash. Yes, Clueless Stacey Dash. Interpret that however way you want it. Anyways, I give I’m Dreamin’ a 4/5.
Call Me-Phil Perry: Next is a cover to an Aretha Franklin song called Call Me and it’s sung by Phil Perry. I’m not feeling it. It’s basically the smooth jazz version of the original. The singing is good, but I can’t get over the sound of it. Stick to the original. Random note: hip-hop fans might recognize the original Call Me because it was used as a sample for this song. I give the Phill Perry version of Call Me a 2/5.
It Should’ve Been You-Teddy Pendergrass: Never would I have thought to see Teddy Pendergrass in the 90s. Not just because I always associated him with the 70s, but because at this point, it would have been a decade after he got into a nasty car accident that left him a quadriplegic, meaning he couldn’t use his arms or legs. Despite his situation, Teddy continued recording music, including the single It Should’ve Been You. It’s a good song. The production sounds good and vocally, Teddy Pendergrass sounds great. His injury has not hurt his singing at all. This is a guy who’s in it for the love of music. R.I.P. to Teddy Pendergrass. I give it a 4/5.
Kissing You-Keith Washington: A really good love ballad with amazing singing and some epic production. Not much else I have to say about it. I give it a 4/5.
I Wanna Sex You Up-Color Me Badd: Well, here’s a song that’s synonymous with the 90s and it’s from multi-racial R&B group Color Me Badd. Apparently, people don’t like this group and I honestly don’t see it. I’m not saying they’re great, but they’re not that bad, either. Much worse acts existed at the time. Anyways, here’s their signature song I Wanna Sex You Up and to me, it’s average at best. It’s a raunchy sex song that kinda feels weak and I think that’s because of the production. Even the Slick Rick sample doesn’t elevate it. The singing is pretty good, though. Overall, the song isn’t bad, but it ain’t great, either. I give it a 2/5.
Power Of Love/Love Power-Luther Vandross: What we have here is Power Of Love/Love Power, a medley of two songs and they’re performed by the late Luther Vandross and it’s great. I like how beautiful the synths sound on the production and how it seamlessly transitions into a semi-gospel track. Luther Vandross is awesome as a vocalist as he sells the feeling of being in love. I give this a 4.5/5.
How Can I Ease The Pain-Lisa Fischer: I think it’s okay. Not exactly something I would revisit, but it’s fine. I give it a 3/5.
Exclusivity-Damian Dame: Now here’s some new jack swing that pretty much flew under the radar and it’s from Damian Dame, the duo of Debra Jean Hurd and Bruce Edward Broadus. Exclusivity is a pretty typical new jack swing song of the times with its production, courtesy of L.A. Reid and Babyface. Both Hurd and Broadus have solid chemistry with one another as they sound good. There’s also rapping in the song and it ain’t great, but it ain’t bad, either. Sadly, their careers would be short-lived as Hurd died in a car accident in 1994 and two years later, Broadus passed away from colon cancer. They never got a chance to record a second album. It’s a shame because these two had talent. I give this song a 3.5/5.
Baby I’m Ready-LeVert: LeVert is a group that consists of Sean and Gerald Levert, who were the sons of Eddie Levert of the O’Jays, and Marc Gordon. They had a solid career in the late 80s, scoring five number one R&B singles, with Baby I’m Ready being the last one. It’s your standard paint-by-numbers ballad with solid singing and delicate production. Not much to say about it. R.I.P. to both Levert brothers. I give this song a 3/5.
I Can’t Wait Another Minute-Hi-Five: It’s not as good as I Like The Way (The Kissing Game), but it’s alright. It’s damn near boy band-ish with the way it’s presented. This is another 3/5 track.
Can You Stop The Rain-Peabo Bryson: Another meh ballad. I don’t hate Peabo Bryson, the dude can sing, but he doesn’t really wow me either and this song doesn’t help. It’s a 2/5. That’s just my opinion.
Addictive Love-BeBe & CeCe Winans: BeBe & CeCe Winans are a brother-sister act who come from a HUGE family of gospel musicians. Seriously, go to their Wikipedia page and there’s a lot of them. Hell, Mario Winans comes from this family. You know, the guy responsible for this 2004 hit. Anyways, BeBe and CeCe with Addictive Love. It’s a gospel song with synth-heavy production that hasn’t really aged well. The content of the song is basically about Jesus Christ. It really isn’t for me, but if you twisted my arm, I’d take it over most contemporary Christian music at the time. After all, this was released in the same year as Bette Midler’s From A Distance. Just saying. I give this song a 3/5.
Let The Beat Hit ‘Em-Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam: The last song from Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam to become a hit. Compared to most of their earlier hits, it’s tolerable, but boy, is it a mess of random samples with Lisa Lisa’s screeching vocals being sandwiched between them. This shit sounds like one of those radio mixes that would be playing during the weekend. I have no reason to revisit it anytime soon. Or ever. I give this song a 2/5.
Don’t Wanna Change The World-Phyllis Hyman: This song is okay. Not great, not bad, just okay. R.I.P. to Phyllis Hyman. I give this a 3/5.
I Adore Mi Amore-Color Me Badd: Even though I Wanna Sex You Up was Color Me Badd’s most recognizable song, it wasn’t their biggest hit. No, that goes to I Adore Mi Amor, which hit number one on the Hot 100. It’s better than I Wanna Sex You Up, but it’s not that great, either. It’s a pretty typical love ballad of the times, especially in its production. If I have to give credit where credit is due, the singing is fine. I’ve heard worse, but I’ve heard better, as well. I give it a 3/5.
Running Back To You-Vanessa Williams: Meh. It’s a 2/5.
Romantic-Karyn White: So Karyn White was a thing in the late 80s and early 90s. I honestly don’t remember much of her music, although one of her songs was a dishonorable mention on my worst of 1989 list. Listening to her songs, I can see why because she doesn’t sound that different from any other pop acts that blew up in the late 80s. This brings us to Romantic, which is a sex song that is catchy. I’m not surprised that it hit number one on the Hot 100. Still, it doesn’t rise above average as there’s nothing that distinct about it. I give it a 2.5/5.
It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday-Boyz II Men: Next up is Boyz II Men with It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday. This is an a cappella cover to the G.C. Cameron song of the same name from the Cooley High soundtrack. It’s about that difficult feeling of saying goodbye to someone who was special to you and the guys of Boyz II Men did a great job at capturing that sentiment with their vocals. This is one of those songs that people dedicate to someone close to them who passed away. Beautiful song overall. I give it a 5/5.
Emotions-Mariah Carey: In terms of my favorite Mariah Carey songs, Emotions is easily in my Top 10. I really enjoy it. The way it flips the sample of Emotions’ Best Of My Love was really dope and they made it work for the 90s. The song itself is about feeling emotions when in love, which seems vague in of itself, but you wouldn’t know that by hearing Mariah singing her heart out. She sounds like someone who’ll all up in their feelings. And she really hits that whistle register effortlessly. It’s another Mariah classic that I would gladly give a perfect 5/5.
Forever My Lady-Jodeci: This was the first hit single for Jodeci and dude, these guys were the shit. They represented the best of the tougher, raunchier side of R&B and they embraced the sounds of hip-hop and new jack swing. But they also have a sensitive side to them as well, which brings us to Forever My Lady, which was written by DeVante Swing and Al B. Sure and is dedicated to the latter’s then-girlfriend Kim Porter (R.I.P.) and their newborn son Quincy. And it’s a beautiful song that hits right in the heart. The vocals are burning with passion and you believe that these dudes are in love. It’s a perfect song to dedicate to that one special lady in your life. If she don’t love you after hearing this, something’s wrong with you. Great love song, one of the best ever made period. I give it a perfect 5/5. It’s a classic.
Tender Kisses-Tracie Spencer: The most I remember about Tender Kisses was that Tracie Spencer sang it alongside Eddie Winslow when she guest-starred in Family Matters. You know? For this kind of love ballad, it’s not that bad. Granted, the production hasn’t really aged that well past the 90s and it does portray someone desperate for love, but Tracie Spencer has a nice voice and she can carry this kind of song. Overall, the song isn’t anything that great, but it’s pretty decent, I can’t front. I give it a 3.5/5.
Are You Lonely For Me-The Rude Boys: It’s better than their previous song, but it’s still just okay. I give it a 3/5.
I’ll Take You There-BeBe & CeCe Winans: Next is BeBe & CeCe Winans doing a cover of the Staple Singers’ I’ll Take You There and it’s a decent, well-sung karaoke cover. Yeah, this is just the original song, but updated for the 90s. I’ll give it this: they didn’t fuck it up royally like General Public did with their cover. I give the BeBe & CeCe version a 3/5.
Private Line-Gerald Levert: It’s alright. I give it a 3/5.
I Love Your Smile-Shanice: And now we end on Shanice, who scored a hit with I Love Your Smile and I like it. It’s catchy, upbeat, and I can’t help but smile when I hear it. Yeah, it is a bit corny, especially when you look at the lyrics, but Shanice puts on a charming and likable performance. The younger generation would recognize this song because Chris Brown interpolated it for one of his more recent singles, which is kinda sad. I give this song a 4/5.
Forever My Lady
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now), Emotions
Let The Beat Hit ‘Em
And those were the number one songs on the Hot R&B Singles chart of 1991. Next time, we’ll be looking at the number one Hot R&B Singles of 1992.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Forever My Lady-Jodeci