Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two-Fer-Tuesday: One-Hit Wonder Soul Divas of the 80s

Bear with me this week, everybody. I'm heading down to New Orleans today to catch the jazz festival with my wife. I might give you some updates in this space on the great music we're going to catch, but new posts may also be spotty until I get back Sunday.

Anyway, back to today's post …

My tolerance for dance tunes is pretty low, I have to admit.

There's only so much I can take of the electronic beat boxes, droning rhythms and the repetitive choruses before I want to either head for the nearest exit door or switch to another station.

I do make a few exceptions, of course – most notably with these two tunes, which made a pretty significant dent on the charts during the 80s.

Why? I'd like to think that Jocelyn Brown and Gwen Guthrie have the pipes that their contemporaries on the 80s dance scene lacked.

Plus, behind that disco beat, are some pretty nifty hooks.

I'm particularly fond of Brown's "Somebody Else's Guy," which I'm always tempted to stick in with my retro-soul mix CDs despite its decade. She really slays me on this song, which hit #2 on the r&b charts but only #75 on the Hot 100 in 1984. Brown has mostly stayed in the background during her career, co-writing some songs with Boy George and touring with Culture Club for a spell.

Play "Somebody Else's Guy" by Jocelyn Brown

I'm less attached to Guthrie's "Ain't Nothing Going On But The Rent" (1986) – perhaps because it's less interesting musically. What is interesting is that unlike many of her contemporaries, Guthrie actually wrote her own songs – including this smash hit, a song that has become a feminist anthem in some circles. It hit #1 on the r&b charts and #45 on the Hot 100 to become Guthrie's biggest hit.

A sad note: Guthrie died at the age of 48 in 1999 of uterine cancer.

Play "Ain't Nothing Going On But The Rent" by Gwen Guthrie

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