In My Write Mind
So, this weekend, I was home. I ventured out Sunday morning to the Bronx to help cheer on some marathoners, but otherwise, it was just me and the brownstone. Chillin. Going through old files, researching stories I'll be writing about in the next few weeks, rearranging furniture. Home. And I saw some weird stuff on television.
Like on Steve Harvey's Big Time, where not only did I see a guy kick HIMSELF IN THE GROIN (yes, you read that correctly), but I also saw a Hasidic Jew singing reggae. And do a good job!
Over on HBO, the movie Something's Gotta Give was on. Not a bad flick, and surprisingly, Keanu Reeves was less cardboard than in recent memory. Probably because he was just a supporting player, or that he was in the midst of such heavyweights as Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. Nonetheless, not a bad movie. Although, I could've done with out the scenes showing Jack's ass and Diane's breasts. It wasn't funny. I get it...they're older and still human and they can be sexy, too. NO!
On BET, where you know it had to be a boring day if I'm clicking over that way, there was New Edition, touting their new CD, One Love, which hits stores tomorrow. They were hosting the Top 25 Countdown while relaxing in a house in DC. Now, I've grown up with these guys and definitely respect them and love their music. That being said, I don't think I've come across a cornier group of guys in my life. I mean, their ad-libbing and throwing-to-video-skills were atrocious. Brutal to watch. But I did, partly to see how many of their songs they would put in the 25 and partly to see just how corny they could be.
Well, I wasn't disappointed on either end. They were corny as hell (lol) and I still love their music. Below is a running commentary of what I saw during the countdown.
*2:00PM--There I sat, watching Ronnie, Ricky, Ralph, Mike and Johnny mug for the camera and try to act hard. It was like watching characters on Sesame Street try to do raps by NWA. Yeah, yeah, I know they've all dabbled in drugs and probably have been in trouble at some point in their lives, but hell, it's NEW EDITION. All I see are jheri curls and lock steps. No hardness.
*2:03--After a few minutes of "yo's" and "what-ups" and a roll call that sounded like a military hit list, they go into Video #25--not surprisingly, their very first, Candy Girl. Love that song just like I love the group. Here's a "did you know" worth noting, and I dare not lie. Did you know that during that video, Michael Bivins was the tallest member of the group? Shocking, but true.
*2:07--The #24 video--Hold On, by En Vogue. I miss the original group. Not just for their sexiness, either. The girls could blow! Their four-part harmony was seamless. And yeah...they were sexy as hell in this video. And I always got a kick out of the dancers who were stuck on fast-forward. Doing that at parties killed...guess you have to trust me on that.
*2:50--#19, Still In Love by New Edition. This song is from the Home Again CD put out in 1996. They had a few bangers on that one--Hit Me Off, You Don't Have to Worry and this song. They were almost 30 when this CD came out, which means that on this song, they should've known better than to come up with lyrics like, "What would I do without your love?/Girl it's heaven sent from above..." HUH?!?!? Redundant alert!!! I still chuckle when I hear that. Hehehe See?
*2:54--This is where the telecast started going in the wrong direction. Obviously the guys have been sippin'. How else do you explain Ronnie zippin' in front of the camera like Gumby and Ralph talking on the phone while Mike tries to introduce a video. Ricky and Johnny? Yup, they're in the cut playing pool. With their hands. Nice.
*3:00--#17 video, "Candy Rain", Soul IV Real. Um, if Flavor Flav and Da Brat can make it onto VH1, shouldn't this be the network that does the Where Are They Now? special on this group? I swear, once the young one's voice changed, they seemed to disappear. For real. Er, Soul IV Real. Aww, you know what I mean...sheesh. (Oh, and while we're on the subject, can we put out an all points bulletin on Monifah, too?!?!?!?)
*3:12--We've officially reached the point of no return. Mike and Ronnie are drunk. How else would you explain Ron taking a digital photo of the NE CD he has in his hand...and then the two of them gathering their coats and walking off the set...to go to the store?!?!?! Can anyone say, MUNCHIES?!?!?!
*3:15--#15, Spread My Wings, Troop. A good choice by the group, giving props to another fivesome with dancing skills. I love this song. The line, "...relax my mind and feel at ease/And let this journey set me free..." Always loved it. Although, now, seeing this video as an adult, I'm a lil disturbed by the group's inane amount of jheri curls and wacky haircuts. There's spreading your wings, and then there's this...Yeesh.
*3:22--#14, Try Again, Aaliyah. I miss her.
*3:46--I've completely tuned them out now. They're all sitting around a piano and Ricky is singing...blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I was just thinking, What IS my favorite New Edition song of all time? And I really don't know off the top of my head. Let's break down the golden oldies:
It was the first song me and my cousin could harmonize on when we were kids. So that made it special. And the quasi-rap? Priceless stuff. And when Ralph basically answers them with a middle-finger response? Come on. Puppy love at its best.
"Would you love me, give me one more chance
Would you love me, try and understand
Would you share my life and its music
Show me in your eyes that you’ll stay with me tonight"
Seriously, that's some good stuff. Maybe I'm just a fan. So I digress.
Alright. Act like you know. Sure, they were wearing stirrup pants in the video and never really explained where Johnny Gill came from, but you have to admit that this was one of the group's best songs. Again, it was Ralph on leads (thank goodness! At this point, Ricky's voice had changed and it was nothing nice, as evidenced on every future BBD track), and the vid showed the group reuniting for the first time after a long layoff, trying to get their moves down pat.
Except...Johnny Gill was there now. And couldn't dance. I'm watching this now saying, boy, if they had only done to JG what BoyzIIMen did to Mike McCary and just made him stand there and sing, the group would've saved themselves valuable rehearsal time.
But again, back to the matter at hand.
This...is a classic song. And finally made us realize what JG brought to the table. He crossed NE over from bubble gum-popsters to bona fide R&B veterans. He not only gave them a bass lead, he gave them weight. After hearing him croon on this song, fans could care less that he couldn't dance or that he made that annoying noise that was a cross between condor and car horn on the NE Heartbreak track. There's no doubt that this song propelled them to greater heights.
With that said, it's probably my favorite NE song as well. Bringing in JG represented a change in their style, helped them not to rely on Ricky for vocals (see Deaf, Tone.) and put the world on notice that they were still in effect mode. On da strength, boyyyyy. LOL
Now, back to the countdown...
*4:02--The #7 video was Steppin' to the AM by 3rd Bass. MC Serch and Pete Nice. Jew-Z & LL Cool Jew. LOL Was it ironic that I saw a reggae-singing Hasidic Jew and these guys in the same weekend? You betcha. At least I couldn't understand most of what Reggae Jew was saying, so I could concentrate on the beats behind him. With 3rd Bass, who blessed us with classics like The Gas Face and Brooklyn Queens, I found myself cringing when I heard lyrics like, "You ain't my nucca" and "How you livin', Hobbs?" I will now peel the skin off my right leg. Just horrible. Oy.
*4:06--THIS is when Janet Jackson grew up in my eyes. The tight jeans, the big hair, the moves...the PLEASURE PRINCIPLE indeed!!!! **drool**
*4:30--Mike Bivins is sitting next to JG by the piano, almost wistful as he intros the #4 video. He goes into a long monologue about how important, how influential, how grateful he is to be a part of the success of the supergroup BoyzIIMen, citing how they broke Elvis' record for most weeks on top of the charts and how they are like his sons. And you know what? For that five minute time period that he went on and on...and on, I was with him.
We did watch BoyzIIMen grow out of the BBD/NE shadow and stand on their own--not because of their flash and flair, definitely not because of their looks or sex appeal--because of their TALENT. Their four part harmony made En Vogue's sound like nails on a blackboard. Call 'em corny, call 'em sappy, whatever. BoyzIIMen can sing their asses off and deserve every bit of recognition and adulation they receive.
The defense rests, Your Honor.
Oh, and the song, by the way, was End of the Road. LOL
*4:50--Mercifully, they're winding down now. Ricky is still tryna sing while JG plays the piano, Ralph is still on the phone, either ordering pizza or making crank calls to Moe's Tavern, while Ronnie and Mike are doing what Ronnie and Mike do...being annoying while mugging for the camera. Thankfully, this is almost over, as the group has quickly slipped into the dreaded "People You Would Never Hang Out With If They Weren't Famous" category. Lawd.
The #2 video is one of theirs, and one I didn't include in the favorite NE song group but, looking back, maybe I should've--Is This The End? Looking back on these videos, this was CLEARLY Ralph's group. Even when the other guys had singing parts, they had to sing them from their background positions. If you see the vid again, check out how Bobby has to crane his head around Ronnie's and Ralph's to sing hs part. Comical.
*4:55--FINALLY, the countdown has come to its end. And not surprisingly, it's one of their own. In fact, it's their new joint, Hot Tonite. Not my choice for #1 video, but hey, they're selling CDs here, people. All in all, their choices were OK, while their behavior was, well, basically like a bunch of corny thirtysomethings chillin in a rented house.
However, don't let the fact that I would never hang out with them lead you to believe that I don't respect them and their legacy. New Edition broke new ground in R&B TWICE, once with their first album and then with their second coming with JG on board. They spawned the Rhythm & Blues Bobby Brown (as opposed to the Rocks & Blunts B.Brown), as well as BellBivDeVoe (hey, Poison was the shiz-nit!) and Ralph's solo act. They sold out tours, sold millions of records, gave little girls crushes and most importantly, they entertained.
And what else can you ask for on a weekend in? Actually, not much more.
Long live NE! Just don't come by to visit...
scribbled by Will at 11/08/2004 09:51:00 AM
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I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. (Joan Didion)
The Write One
Will. Lefty. Since Summer 1971. Over the next six months, I'll be saying some hellos, some goodbyes. Living, laughing, growing. Don't.miss.a.word.
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