Ranking #36 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-1996

Dutifully CTRL-F’ing these small quakes this morning, I thought I’d have to give it up. I remembered “Bad Girl” and Michael Bolton’s blitzkrieg on “Georgia on My Mind” and Tears For Fears’ pensive, leisurely “Woman in Chains,” the latter the most ambitious tune here. I didn’t know Sunscreem’s club monster “Love U More” and, wow, Yo-Yo and Ice Cube’s “You Can’t Play with My Yo-Yo” went this high.

Tuneful, insistent rhythmically when their melodies putter to a halt, the second-tier songs consist of Poppy Bush Interzone readymades forgotten by time. “Again Tonight” is a solid John-not-Cougar-Mellencamp tune not at the level of top twenty hit “Get a Leg Up.” Joan Jett covers AC/DC. Rod Stewart covers Sam Cooke.

But the revelatory moments come from the superstars. Maxwell introduces a controlled, Leon Ware-influenced suppleness to R&B that Babyface hadn’t dreamt of. As for Madonna’s first legit flop single since 1982, “Bad Girl” remains a best-ever: a missive about the wages of fame as experienced by a woman who’s cheated too often, smoked too many cigarettes, and unable to meet expectations she had a large hand in shaping. Her pitch is wobbly like it wouldn’t be three years later; that’s what I expect from bad girls who smoked too many cigs in unfamiliar beds.

The Hague

Michael Bolton – Georgia on My Mind
Celine Dion – Love Can Move Mountains

Meh

Prince and the NPG – My Name is Prince
Def Leppard – Make Love Like a Man
Alannah Myles – Love Is
Cinderella – Shelter Me

Sound, Solid

Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight
John Mellencamp – Again Tonight
Rod Stewart – Havin’ a Party
Lisa Keith – Better Than You
Joan Jett – Dirty Deeds
Immature – Please Don’t Go
The Brat Pack – You’re the Only Woman

Good to Great

Maxwell – Ascension (Don’t You Wonder)
Madonna – Bad Girl
Sunscreem – Love U More
Tears for Fears – Woman in Chains
En Vogue – Love Don’t Love You
Yo-Yo Featuring Ice Cube – You Can’t Play with My Yo-Yo
Rappin’ 4-Tay – Playaz Club
Roxette – Church of Your Heart
Anita Baker – Body & Soul
Sheryl Crow – Can’t Cry Anymore

2 thoughts on “Ranking #36 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-1996

  1. It’s Don’t Ever Wonder-. I like Sumthin’ Sumthin’ a little better.
    You’re right about the wobbly vocals of Madonna. It’s jarring and can put you off of the song but it’s understandable. given her character The Last time I heard some major artist totally fucked up vocally (not in a good way) is Donald Fagen in “Bad Sneakers”. Like, I get why the Dans held Katy Lied as their worst recording, but never heard a critique of Fagen’s voice there. Perhaps they were too modest to aknowledge Fagen seemed veritable drunk all over the recording.

    I love The SP, and that’s not even my fav. song from them. However, for a time, they were doing the best videos out there. And that George Melies spin-off is a masterpiece of the form.

  2. You got to know “Love U More” 29 years after I did, then. I loved it at the time and it retains a melancholy place in my mind from the first months I really understood sadness.

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