I’ve been wanting to do a countdown featuring songs about songs (you know, songs about music, dancing, and/or a certain genre). I have my 10 songs, but even as I posted Number 10, I wasn’t sure about the order. So, this one will form as I go. I normally have my list ready to go before I start. MY TOP 10is a music video countdown, but with some songs (maybe two in particular) occuring before the MTV era, I will have to improvise and pull something from Dailymotion or YouTube. Here goes.
4. Erykah Badu featuring Common “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop)”
The theme song to Brown Sugar, the love letter to hip hop in film form, plays like “I Used to Love H.E.R.” Part Deuce (see Number 5) and even features Common. The song is the 2003 Grammy-Winning Best R&B Song and Soul Train Lady of Soul Best Solo R&B/Soul Single. It got a lot of airplay on the radio and TV and exhibits Badu’s potential at its finest. A fun video and a surprise appearance by MC Lyte top it off.
I thought it would be fun to countdown MY TOP 10: Music Video Cameos. That is, music videos with cameos by non-musical personalities who are known for working in other areas of show biz. My criteria were that:
1) the video be memorable, of course;
2) the featured personality not be another musical artist at the time (now if they became musical artists at a later point that’s another story; they’re still eligible);
3) the featured personality be known at the time (not be an unknown who became known later); and
4) the cameo be a worthwhile part in the video (not just a 2-second spot).
3. Paula Abdul, Rosanna Arquette, Dan Aykroyd, Mayim Bialik, Bubbles, Jackie Collins, David Copperfield, Emily Dreyfuss, Richard Dreyfuss, Corey Feldman, Lou Ferrigno, Debbie Gibson, Danny Glover, Steve Guttenberg, Jasmine Guy, Whoopi Goldberg, Sherman Hemsley, Olivia Hussey, Amy Irving, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Beverly Johnson, Quincy Jones, Don King, Virginia Madsen, Olivia Newton-John, Brigitte Nielson, Lou Diamond Phillips, Ricky Schroder, Steven Spielberg, Suzanne Somers, John Travolta, Blair Underwood, Carl Weathers, Billy Dee Williams, and ”Weird Al” Yankovic in Michael Jackson’s “Liberian Girl”
Okay, so there are some popstars in there and that goes against my criteria. We can knock them out of the running and that still leaves a lot of star power. And, yes, these were some of the biggest stars at the time. This goes to show the power that Jacko wielded at the time – to be able to get them all on the same set. It’s fun to compare then to now and see where people are at now in their careers.
Now, paint me clueless, but I like a couple of songs that use this as a sample and I didn’t realize they referenced an original Michael Jackson song until recently. I love Jennifer Lopez’ “If You Had My Love” and MC Lyte’s “Keep On Keepin’ On” featuring Xscape. I’m sure there are more as well as all kinds of other Michael Jackson samples and interpolations out there. He is Michael Jackson and was at the top of his game at one point and for a very long while.
That said, in my defense, this song/video was never released in the US. It was only released in Europe and Australia as an official single for Bad. Regardless, it’s a clever concept and that’s why it’s Number 3.
7. Keith Sweat Featuring Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes “How Do You Like It?” FromGet Up on It Released: March 10, 1994
The first single from Keith Sweat’s 1994 release, this was Lisa’s first official foray into featured rapperdom. With a successful solo effort she didn’t forget where she came from shouting out her TLC sisters with her first few words. I like how she puts her voice all over a track with her little Left Eye-isms like honey finding its way all over the nooks and crannies of a biscuit. You hear it here and you hear it on Number 9, Mel C’s song, too. Let’s be real, she put it down like that on all her collabos putting her stamp all over them.
This feels like a transition point between the Ooooooohhh… and CrazySexyCool eras. Definitely, a hot jam, Keith and Left Eye were doing their thing. I remember reading that Left Eye was supposed to be on MC Lyte’s “Ruffneck,” which I remember coming out around the same time give or take a year or two. Interestingly, I hear hints of “Ruffneck” on this joint. (And I don’t mean the beginning of the video, which is, obviously, the “Ruffneck” video ending before this one begins.)
I remember when she passed. A co-worker called me and woke me up. I hadn’t even gotten up yet to start getting ready for work. My co-worker caught it on the morning news and knew I was a huge TLC fan, so she called me to see if I had heard yet. That was a sad day and getting through work that day was hard for me. But, let us not dwell on that. Let’s remember the joy her talent brought us with Number 7.
This is what I wrote on my MySpace Page on December 18, 2006:
“love this song and this video from the janet. album. i esp. like the mc lyte rap. couldn’t find this video on myspace, so here are the youtube links. also: the video has a funny/nasty intro that is not included in this youtuber’s upload of the original b&w version.”
4. “You Want This” from janet. Released: October 11, 1994
Oh, I so love the janet. era. Janny looked a little awkard sometimes in the 80s, but she got street in the 90s. The dookie braids! The khaki pants and white top! The hip-sway dance! Everything was just on point. Enough about the visuals, though, the song itself is just a fun romp. Makes you want to imagine some sexy man you’d want to sing this to.
It does have a chant-like quality. “You Want This” is just a sexy, self-assured, funky groove. Okay, back to the visuals – the video was shot in black-and-white and painted over to create a color version. Funny video intro and mini-rap by MC Lyte make it memorable. Obviously, a nod to the past, the tv show; the cars; and the manly magazines add throwback touches.
The choreography is sexy and understated. I’ve always liked the more square, hip-hop (even more masculine in a way) shape of Janet choreography (and old school choreography for that matter) than the more round, hip-driven (I know there’s some hips in this, but it’s still blocky), sway-y choreography of some of today’s female artists. The choreography of old videos looked like you had to be an expert, trained dancer to really do it right whereas the videos of more recent times look like maybe anyone could do the dances. But, I digress, “I Want This” and I know you do, too.
I remember Lauryn was lauded as the “talented” member of the Fugees and was always being asked when she was going to work on a solo album by the media back in the day. And then it came and, boy, did it come. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released in 1998 (I wasn’t even consciously thinking of its ten year anniversary when putting this list together or did I know Rolling Stone had recently commemorated it) and garnered her ten Grammy nominations and five wins. This was the most nominations for a solo female artist at the time. Number 1, “Doo Wop (That Thing),” kicked it all off.
This was one of those videos that I liked watching over and over and never got tired of. Great sing-a-long lyrics with a positive message and make-you-think content that were added bonuses. The concept itself was original with the side-by-side screens comparing the old school with the new. Lauryn looked impeccable. And she showcased both her rapping and singing skills.
I remember reading, and I’m paraphrasing here, Foxy Brown commenting that everyone had a gimmick and that she and Lil’ Kim had their thing and Lauryn had the positive thing going, but that it was all still conscious image-making. I don’t fully agree as there’s something that rang true about Ms. Hill’s work and, I think, it’s for that reason, that it touched so many people.
She had such potential and has already achieved so much of it. It was refreshing, in a genre were women’s perspectives are limited, that this was an alternative point-of-view. It’s not that the Foxy Browns and the Lil’ Kims shouldn’t be there, it’s that there should be more of a spectrum. Seemed to be more of selection in the earlier days with Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt-n-Pepa, etc. I’ll stop proselytizing now, but I think of Lauryn Hill as the great hip hop hope. I know that’s a lot of pressure and maybe she’s already buckled under it, but I hope we get more glimpses of her greatness or at least some very close attempts in the not too distant future.
About the Site:
Austin, TX music blogazine featuring pop outside the box from September 15, 2008 through November 27, 2011