Down The Dumper – The 90s Part 22.

This is someone who had already featured in one of my longer pop music pieces, but since then, there has been a rather exciting and unexpected new chapter in the story. Betty Boo started out in the late-80s as a member of the pioneering female rap group She Rockers, so she had already been on the scene for a while when she had her first Top Ten hit single in 1989.

She had two further Top Ten hits with “Doin’ The Do” and “Where Are You Baby”, and she was definitely one of the big stars of 1990. I remember that she was one of the first pop stars that I really took notice of and enjoyed, and based on the response to the repeats of her Top Of The Pops performances, it seems that I wasn’t the only one pleasingly.

She also got on to the cover of Smash Hits three times, along with many other magazines. Her success faded rather quickly though, and her final hit single was in April 1993 when “Hangover” reached no. 50. Not much was heard from her after that, although she remained in the music business as a songwriter, and she also worked on a few other projects including Wigwam.

Update: I forgot to say that in October 1993 Betty also appeared as a contestant on Channel 4’s The Music Game. This was a game show that was known for its unusual combinations of contestants taking part to show off their knowledge, so she was on the same panel as Neil Innes and Nicholas Parsons.

But then last year, she returned to the scene, with the announcement of her third album “Boomerang”, her first since 1992, 30, yes, THIRTY, years earlier. She also did a few interviews, and videos were made for the songs “Get Me To The Weekend” and “Shining Star”. She also hired a few high-profile names to collaborate with including Chuck D, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and David Gray.

She had pretty much picked up where she had left off, after all these years she was finally doin’ the do again, and I know that I shouldn’t talk about a lady’s age but it was remarkable to think that she was now 52 because she didn’t look a day older from the 90s and she definitely still had it, and there were plenty of positive reviews too. She also admitted that this was the album that she should’ve made when she was 25.

“Boomerang” was released in October 2022 and reached no. 45, so not exactly a sensation, but this was still higher than the peak of second album “Grrr! It’s Betty Boo”. You could buy this on vinyl or CD, and I can’t get my head around the fact that vinyl might outlive the CD format, that doesn’t make sense to me. It was terrific to see her again though, sometimes things are worth the long wait, and we might see her again soon.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 46.

This is a group whose singles I must admit passed me by at the time, but in more recent years, I have heard some of them on the radio and really liked them, and I was pleased to have finally caught up with them. Even though they didn’t get particularly huge in the UK compared to similar groups, they did have plenty of hits throughout the 90s.

Zhané (and we’ll get on to the pronunciation of that later) were an American duo consisting of Jean and Reneé (and I do always enjoy a duo). They were in the dance/soul genre, and some of their songs have been favourably compared to the likes of SWV and En Vogue. In September 1993, their debut single “Hey Mr DJ” was released. This reached no. 26 (and this was also their first and only Top Ten hit single in America).

This was followed in March 1994 by “Groove Thang” which reached no. 34 (and was their final single to make the Top 20 in America). Their first two hits are definitely my favourites by them. Around the same time their debut album “Pronounced Jah-Nay” (I do hope that was worth the wait) was released, but this failed to make the Top 75 in the UK.

The singles continued to come though, with varying success. In August 1994 “Vibe” reached no. 67, and in February 1995 “Shame” (which featured in the film A Low Down Dirty Shame) reached no. 66. They had managed to build enough of a reputation to collaborate with some leading rappers though, and this soon returned them to the Top 40. In September 1996, “It’s A Party”, which featured Busta Rhymes, reached no. 23.

And in March 1997 they teamed up with De La Soul for “4 More” which reached no. 52. Then in April 1997 “Request Line” reached no. 22, to become their biggest hit single in the UK. And their album “Saturday Night” just managed to miss making the Top 50. But after this point, they wouldn’t make the Top 40 with any more of their singles.

In August 1997 “Crush” reached no. 44. And in October 1999 “Jamboree”, which featured Naughty By Nature, reached no. 51, and this was their ninth and final hit single in the UK. Zhané split not long after, and I don’t think that they have ever reformed. I don’t recall them making any TV appearances during the 90s either, but keep listening out, because sometimes their songs can turn up rather late at night on BBC 1Xtra, and they’ve still got that funky swing.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 42.

I thought that I would have one final look back at the dance music scene in the early-90s. As I have said before, I first came across lots of songs from this era when I listened to Kisstory on radio station Kiss in the early-2000s. I remember really enjoying “Sweet Harmony” by Liquid, and I was also fond of a song by this group, who were another lot of pioneering button-twiddlers.

Shades Of Rhythm were an English production group who formed in the late-80s, and they were definitely a big part of the rave scene that would be all over the chart by the early-90s. Their first couple of hit singles in 1991 missed the Top 40. But in July 1991, “The Sound Of Eden” was released, which reached no. 35, and this is the one that I really liked (although I can’t find a video online).

It was also around this time when their self-titled album made the lower end of the chart. Next in November 1991 was “Extacy” (pronounced “Ecstasy”, hmm…), which was their most successful hit single, and the only one that made the Top 20. This definitely raised their profile, and even earned them an appearance on Top Of The Pops. They then returned to the chart in 1993 with another minor hit.

But then, in September 1993, “The Sound Of Eden” was re-released, maybe because this had now been established as an anthem in the clubs, and it was hoped that this could do better than first time round. This didn’t actually, but still reached no. 37, meaning that this was a Top 40 hit for a second time in two years. They then had some more minor hits, the last being in 1997.

But one reason why it is clear that “Sound Of Eden” is so influential is because this has been a hit single a further three times in cover versions, although none of these made the Top 40 (and rather curiously, all three covers had different titles too). First in May 1997 was “Sound of Eden” by Casino, which reached no. 52, and was the biggest of their two hit singles.

Then in May 2002 (coincidentally around the same time that I discovered the original), “Sounds Of Eden (Every Time I See The Girl)” by Deep Cover reached no. 63, and was their only hit. And in April 2007, “Every Time I See Her (Sound Of Eden)” by Another Chance reached no. 62 (although they later had a much bigger hit under the name Bodyrox). All of these covers were rather good, but the original will always be the best for me.

Great Moments In Pop – The 90s Part 33.

I shall begin by explaining why there haven’t been that many blog pieces lately. This is because after about 2½ years, I have finally had the virus. I never really thought that it would happen to me, and although it wasn’t a very pleasant experience, it turned out to be not as horrible as I thought it would either, and I am feeling much better now.

But I took some time to think about what pop music piece I would like to do next, and I thought that I should reveal the answer to the question – what was the first single that I bought? Well the answer to this is… none really. It might seem odd, but as much as I enjoyed songs on the radio and TV when I was younger, it never really occurred to me to visit the nearby Woolworths and buy anything like that, maybe it’s an experience that I’ve missed out on.

However, I do remember being given a cassette of a song one Christmas, so maybe that is the first song that I had, even if I didn’t buy it myself. I know that plenty of people will definitely not consider this one to be a “great moment”, and the fact that this played such an important part in increasing my interest in pop music might come across as mildly ridiculous, but here’s the story.

In the 90s there was Noel’s House Party, the popular Saturday Night TV show. One of the features was the Gotchas, where a prank was played on an unsuspecting celebrity, and then they would receive an award for their trouble. In the second series, the idea was to base some of these pranks around a fake children’s TV show, and a character was created to feature in these.

Mr Blobby looked rather horrible, being rather big, with pink with yellow spots, and said nothing but “blobby”, nobody would enjoy this for real would they? But when he started to make further appearances on this show, and came across as amusingly accident-prone, there was much surprise at the realisation of the potential of turning this into a proper TV character.

This reached a peak in December 1993 when “Mr Blobby” was released, a single that celebrated the achievements of this character, and it was hoped that this could even be the Christmas Number One. Helping was the rather amusing video, which featured parodies of other famous music videos including “I Can’t Dance” by Genesis. This actually did reach Number One, but was then replaced by Take That, the biggest band on the scene at the time.

But then “Mr Blobby” went back up to Number One, the first time that this had happened on the chart for 24 years. People were stunned, nobody outsells Take That! Well that was a memorable Christmas, I don’t think I still have the cassette though. The follow-up “Christmas In Blobbyland” was released in December 1995, and reached no. 36. His influence will last long after we’ve all gone I’m sure.

Down The Dumper – The 90s Part 9.

Here’s yet another group who had success with one single, but couldn’t attract any interest in their follow-ups. 4 Non-Blondes were an American group who formed in the late-80s. You can probably guess how they got their name. Their frontwoman was Linda Perry, who had a whiny voice, and a rather distinctive look of a big hat with some goggles on it. Well, you had to do anything to get noticed in those days.

In June 1993 “What’s Up” was released (even though that phrase isn’t actually in the lyrics), and this did rather well, reaching no. 2 in the UK, and no. 14 in America. It’s one of those curious songs that even though it was a success, nobody seemed to want to admit that they liked it, and many had no idea what the lyrics were about. This one clearly does mean something to some people though, as the video has had over one billion views on YouTube.

In July 1993 their first and only album “Bigger, Better, Faster, More!” was released, and reached no. 4. This was another group that was now faced with the challenge of following their big hit with anything else, but you think that there would be some interest. So in October 1993 “Spaceman” was released (not to be confused with the later Babylon Zoo song), and this reached only no. 53.

The video was shown on The Chart Show, but there wasn’t much interest beyond that, and this turned out to be their second and final hit single in the UK (by comparison, the video to “Spaceman” has barely had ten million views on YouTube). There is a little more to their story after this though. In 1994 a dance remix of “What’s Up” by DJ Miko made the Top Ten.

And also around this time, someone appeared as Linda on Stars In Their Eyes. This was a show that liked to feature singers in various genres, but barely a year on from their brief success, people were probably struggling to remember who she was. She didn’t win. Not long after this, 4 Non-Blondes split, their biggest hit still hanging around all these years on.

Linda is still around though, and in more recent years she has gone on to be a successful songwriter, including working with Christina Aguilera and Pink, and there was also the BBC3 comedy sketch show 3 Non-Blondes, the title being very obviously a pun on the group’s name, they must’ve been thrilled, what a legacy that is.