Thursday, 22 November 2012

It's All Coming Back To Me Now - A Love Letter To The 90s Pop Ballad

90s Whitney. Sigh...

It's been seven hours and fifteen days (not exact number) since….” I found myself out on a Friday night, well, actually, a Saturday morning, about 2am, surrounded by intoxicated people singing along, word for word to a song I've been known to love “…I go out every night and sleep all day, since you took your love away…” yep, it’s an involuntary thing isn’t it? You know the words, we all know the words, whether you like the song or not. They find themselves being screamed at people across bars at 2am, unexpectedley, they find themselves being sung along to whenever they're played. “I said nothing can take away these blues, 'cause nothing compares, nothing compares to you”. Yep, the curse of the pop ballad is that they manage to seep into your subconsious and no matter where you hear them, you'll know some of the words at some stage and before you know it you'll be singing along. No decade was more in love with the pop ballad than the 90's. I’m happy to admit it, I love some of them. Like the 80’s rock ballad we discussed earlier this month, the 90’s pop ballad is a secret (not so secret) love of mine. They’re the types of songs that you will either cry with or laugh hysterically at, but either way, we've all belted out a pop ballad at some stage....right?

Show Me Heaven
by Maria McKee, 1990

It starts with the words; ”There you go, flashing fever from your eyes”. I have no idea what that means. Flashing fever from your eyes sounds quite dramatic and possibly something that should be checked out by a medical professional. There’s also references to shaking like a breeze (which begs the question, how do breezes shake?) and shivers down her spine, which sounds like the possibility of a disorder of the nervous system. This song is just full of symptoms of larger medical problems, isn’t it? At least she’s polite, I suppose, for she does ask "show me heaven, please". My mum said politeness would get you far in life, but maybe she was wrong. I mean, where are you now Maria?

All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You
by Heart, 1990

Long story short: girl in relationship with man wants kid, man can’t manage to help produce kid. Girl finds a one night stand, one night stand 'helps her be woman numerous times' in one night (yes, first of many terrible lyrics in this song) and gets her pregnant. She tells man she is in relationship with that the baby is his. One day she runs into one night stand on the street, in a shop, at a burger joint (the place is irrelevant, but I imagine they are the types of places she hangs out). One night stand recognises the kid as his own. She begs him not to tell anyone, then continues on her chorus about all she wants to do is make love to you, which is either her partner or the one night stand, who knows by this stage? It’s a four minute song. A lot can happen in that time. Ok, so long story not shortened that much, but I have to say, this song also contains some of my least favourite lyrics, in any song, ever. Here, I'll share them with you; “I told him I am the flower you are the seed, we walked in the garden we planted a tree”. (Yes, that’s referencing sex. Unsafe sex in which someone gets pregnant. There's a lesson boys and girls. If you don't want babies and have unsafe sex with someone of the opposite sex someone may end up pregnant. Duh.) How cringeworthy. How awful. What an awful pop ballad. What an awesome pop ballad.

I Will Always Love You
by Whitney Houston, 1992

Now let’s talk about one of the biggest and best. Pre-tragic, pre-Bobby Brown, pre-RIP Whitney, this was the height of her career. I still think it's weird that Dolly Parton wrote it and performed it first, after all, Whitney made it all her own. Those notes toward the end, that "yooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu" was one of the most breathtaking notes I'd heard in pop music when I first heard it, until it was played a bazillion times and became one of the most annoying, which is a shame because it actually still is one of the most breathtaking.

Save The Best For Last
Vanessa Williams, 1992

I never really got this song. What's going on? What was saved until last? The best, yes, but what is the best? The best of what? Is she singing of a delicious cheesecake dessert and leaving the crumbly biscuit base bits until last? Is she serenading a burger and fries and saving one of those crunchy little salty deep fried potato devils until last? She probably says somewhere in the lyrics, but I just get a bit bored and start thinking of tasty snacks whenever I hear it. True. Maybe.

by Janet Jackson, 1993

Janet Jackson, nipple flasher, how could you possibly have showed every one yours, yet sung such a sweet song previously? I’ll admit, I actually really like this song, but the clip? Uuuurgh, cringe. The guy is just a little bit creepy, but I guess it was 1993, maybe he was hot then, who knows? The worst part occurs at about 1:50, which involves a bare torso, unbuttoned jeans and some kind of gold chain being pulled from somewhere in said jeans. It’s weird and not sexy at all. It’s also like the car crash syndrome, you want it to end but can’t help watching. If you can get over that, the song is super cute. Strings, piano, heartbreaking lyrics, it’s everything a pop ballad should be.

by Mariah Carey, 1993

There is no way I was going to do a post on 90’s pop ballads and not include Mariah, right? So I chose the biggest, the best and possibly also the most annoying. There’s nothing better and nothing worse than the preachy ballad, is there? “There's a hero, if you look inside your heart, you don't have to be afraid, of what you are” um, anyone feel like a vom right now?

Take A Bow
by Madonna, 1994

Ok, it's not one of the biggest selling, it's not one of the iconic ballads, but you know what? It's one of my favourite Madonna songs, so you're just going to have to put up with it. So sweet, Madonna so pretty and not so old at all, the beautifully shot vintage look Spanish themed clip, the actual real life bullfighter playing her lover, the strings, the heartbreak, the "how was I to know you'd break my heart?", oh, everything about this is beautiful. Love.

My Heart Will Go On
by Celine Dion, 1997

This has to be the late 90's rival to Whitney's early 90's dominance, like Whitney's was from The Bodyguard, Celine's was from Titanic and the title is a good indication of the song. It may only go for five minutes and eleven seconds, but for me, this one feels like it goes on...and on....and on...and on. Maybe I should watch Titanic, then I might like it a bit more but I just can't bring myself to sit through 194 minutes of Leonardo DiCaprio. That's probably a whole other post though. I'll just put up with five minutes of Celine instead.

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