2. TLC “Waterfalls” FromCrazySexyCool Released: May 29, 1995
So, I said it had to be “No Scrubs” for Number 4, but really “Waterfalls” had to be the top TLC song of the countdown. It is one of my favorites, but it’s so obvious that I would have chosen another, but I don’t think that would have been true to Left Eye’s memory. This is the song the put TLC over the top and turned them from an R&B/hip-pop girl group to a super-pop megastar girl group.
Ms. Lopes’ rap in this song is the one that she will most be remembered for. It’s even engraved on her tombstone. This video was one of the most expensive videos ever made and one of the few that actually visually interpreted the story/lyrics of the song. Very cinematic, it won a ton of awards, and director F. Gary Gray went on to direct hit films such as Set It Off, The Negotiator, and The Italian Job.
I remember that each TLC album came out at a significant time in my life. I was a freshman in high school when Ooooooohhh…On The TLC Tip was released. CrazySexyCool marked my senior year of high school. I was about to graduate college with my Bachelors when FanMail came out. (3D not so much, but I don’t really count that one because Lisa had already passed. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of it, but that release became a different kind of thing just because of how things happened to go down.)
3. Donell Jones featuring Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
“U Know What’s Up” FromWhere I Wanna Be Released: September 14, 1999
So, this came out the same year that TLC came back with FanMail and “No Scrubs” was such a huge hit. This is Donell Jones’ biggest hit. And I think it goes without saying that that’s due in part to the Left Eye factor. A lot of the songs by other artists that featured her climbed to Number 1 on various charts.
I think Ms. Lopes is underrated and doesn’t get enough credit for her individual contributions to modern pop, hip hop, and R&B music. No, she never got to establish a solo career, but if her life hadn’t been cut short she more than likely would have. She’ll always be most known as one-third of TLC and she’ll always get props for that, but she worked with a lot of other artists and to be able to enhance another artist’s song while still allowing them their individuality and maintaining yours takes some talent.
I remember when Number 4, “No Scrubs,” came out I was in my last year of undergrad at UT. I lived in the Jester Center dorms. East Side! When the video premiered on MTV I ran back to my dorm from one of my classes just to catch it. I was blown away by that video.
4. TLC “No Scrubs” FromFanMail Released: Spring 1999
Oh, yes! It had to be “No Scrubs.” When I first heard this song…Well, first off I was just so happy to have TLC back after 4 years. I’ve always said that an artist has to come back strong with that first single off of a new project after they’ve been away for awhile. And the promotional single, “Silly Ho,” just didn’t do it for me. It sounded like a wannabe Missy song.
So, I was weary of the first official single. But this, just sounded like something else. Today it just sounds like “No Scrubs.” But, when I first heard it. I knew it was TLC, but it was like I hadn’t heard them before. Chilli hadn’t ever been in the front really. And the harmonies were just bananas to me. And the beat was so infectiously sweet that I…I don’t know…I was going to say got tooth decay, but that’s just corny. It was just anthemic and the video was first class with all the extras. And what made it extra extra special was Left Eye’s call-outs all over it, which is signature TLC, and her rap, of course. (I don’t understand why this wasn’t the version on the album from the gitty-up. Why wouldn’t the record company want all 3 girls on the album version? It’s obviously better by far.)
I remember thinking that one reason TLC was so popular was because they had a nice balance of masculine and feminine (though all 3 got sexier and more womanly as they “grew up”). Chilli was the most girly. Left Eye was the most tomboyish. And, T-Boz was right in the middle with a nice balance of both. There was something for everyone; something for every taste.
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Austin, TX music blogazine featuring pop outside the box from September 15, 2008 through November 27, 2011