An Endearing Tune About a Mom’s Thankfulness

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A Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all the precious and hardworking moms out there! This post is dedicated to all the moms, especially my own mom.

Today’s post is brought to you by Cheryl Pepsii Riley. A New York native, Riley was a nurse while pursuing a side job of singing. She would sing at nightclubs, do community theater, and also be part of of a group called Stargaze during her free time. During this time, Full Force member Bowlegged Lou approached Riley with an offer to produce her singing career with a song called “I Wonder If I Take You Home” in 1984. But, Riley refused the song and Lou eventually gave the song to Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam, which was a huge hit for the group.

Regretting the decision of rejecting the succesful “I Wonder If I Take You Home”, Riley reached out to Lou again in order for him to write another song for her. Eventually, she hit success with one of her first singles, “Thank You For My Child”, in 1988 when it reached #1 on the R&B charts in the US. The song, written by Bowlegged Lou, was a mid-tempo ballad about Lou’s experience with his wife’s complications during her first pregnancy.[1]

Although Riley enjoyed the success of having her song top the charts, she continued her career as a nurse while releasing songs and other material. She released three albums, which the first one reached #18 on the charts, with semi-successful singles. However, she took a break from the musical industry after the release of her third album in 1993.

Riley reemerged in the late 90s and early 00s as an actress in a bunch of Tyler Perry’s plays. She also appeared in various film adaptations of Perry’s productions such as 2011’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family”.

“Thank You For My Child” starts off with a lento tempo. Only a series of triads and skeleton chords are played to support Riley during the first verse. The instrumentation rarely ever expands on those chords with the help of an 808 bass, Roland synthesizer, and electric piano. The instrumentation doesn’t gain memento until the last third of the song when the instruments plays a little bit more of recognizable melody. Although, one of my favorite parts of the song is when the electric piano plays an a sweet chordal progression when the song briefly switches to a minor key during the first verse.

Riley’s vocals is one of the pinnacle points of “Thank You For My Child”. Her voice is smooth yet just the right of powerful needed for this song. It’s a perfect fit for this inspirational ballad as it isn’t overpowering the backing instrumentation. It’s tone is pretty warm in order to help support and convey the song’s meaning in a motherly way. An example of this is found at the ending when Riley sings strong yet tender vocal runs.

The lyrics are another important point. It’s beautifully written as it told from a perspective of a single mother who cherishes and thanks the man above for her precious child. It is such an inspiration to mothers and non-mothers alike as anyone can relate this warm and caring thank you letter. If you have a chance, you should check them out on Genius.com to see how inspiring these lyrics are.

Moms, thank you for all what you do and loving your family unconditionally. You’re the true superheroes.


Credits

[1]  “Cheryl Pepsii Riley – Thanks For My Child.” Genius. Web. 15 May 2016. (http://genius.com/Cheryl-pepsii-riley-thanks-for-my-child-lyrics)

“Wild Women Do” A Natalie Cole Tribute

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It is really sad when a shining star in the music industry dies out, especially a legend like Natalie Cole. I can admit that I have barely listened to anything by her. Maybe because I am not a big fan of the classic jazz type of music that her, her dad, and many others were famous for. I am more of the modern smooth jazz from the 80’s and 90’s.

I discovered a song, called “Wild Women Do”, that she contributed to the blockbuster film Pretty Women while watching the film about a year ago. I recently was able to buy the soundtrack at a local discount store and one the first songs I listened to was Natalie Cole’s. It’s my favorite tune off the soundtrack due to how brash, in a good way, and tough the song’s character is. And, it’s all thanks to how Natalie’s soulful yet aggressive vocal style helps to paint this “tough girl” attitude, something alike to the personality of Julia Roberts’ character in the movie. My favorite line in the whole song is “Well, let me tell you something, little boy” because Cole sings in a cynical style, just like the mannerism of Roberts’ character.

“Wild Women Do” is a perfect blend of R&B, pop, a little soul, and rock with it’s aggressive “I don’t take jack” approach about women who live life on the wild side (or prostitutes). I think I might have to start 2016 off by listening to more of Cole’s works that are like this one. And maybe, someday, I will get to her more profound and earlier works. But right now, I am going to jam to “Wild Women Do” and you should too.

The Shocking Tunes of the Season: Bobby Brown’s “On Our Own”

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What do Donald Trump and Bobby Brown have in common?

No, no! It doesn’t have to do with Trump running for United States President next year. Think waaaaaaaay back, about twenty-six years ago. Still don’t know the answer?

Welllllllllllll…. Ghostbusters, of course!

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“Gasp!”

“On Our Own” was a Babyface and LA Reid produced song, sung by Bobby Brown, that served as the theme for the film Ghostbusters II. Nothing like the original theme song by Ray Parker Jr., “On Our Own” still captures the original theme’s concept of a lively dance beat that features lyrics about a team.

As much as “Ghostbusters” is a loveable classic, I really enjoy listening to “On Our Own” because I am huge sucker for new jack swing, 80s’ R&B, and anything by Babyface. I think what I like best from this song is Babyface’s smooth and sultry backing vocals, Bobby’s “on the edge” rapping skills, and the song’s flow. What else is great is how the producers combined the jolting synthesizers bits from the electronica genre with the bass line that is akin to funk music. Finally,I like the pre-chorus that involves an interesting sub-melody by a classical piano with a guest solo appearance from that funky bass line.

The music video presented a pretty cool concept. It features numerous scenes around New York City that highlights Bobby Brown, the back-up dancers, and various scenes from Ghostbusters II on buildings, billboards, and so on. While the music video does have various celebrities taking notice to the “photo-shopped” videos, it also featuring everyday New Yorkers just strolling by, enamored to the movie clips that are somehow playing on these buildings. Of course, the delightful appearance of Rick Moranis is always a treat!

So if you feel like rapping these lines “So they packed up their group, got a grip, came equipped, grabbed they Proton packs off their back and they split”, check the video below.

Four Colourz – “ABCD”

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Long time, no see! I am sorry for not updating for a week or so. I usually curl up next to the space heater after work on very cold winter nights, unexpectedly falling asleep for long periods of time. Lame, isn’t it? This week’s weather is forecasted to be spring-like here in Japan. Maybe I will be lucky and I wouldn’t have to use a heater.

But enough of the excuses, let’s talk more about music! What do you remember about the late 90s and early 2000s in the music world? Do you remember those influx of girl groups and boy bands from every corner of the world? Ok, ok! Maybe not “every corner of the world”, but it did feel like it! With any kind of band coming from Europe, the UK, US, and Canada, you might of have felt a bit overwhelmed when choosing who to follow. I did! I always had to choose between being a Backstreet Boys fan or a *Nsync fan when discussing who my friends and I loved during lunch in middle school. Luckily, I found a loophole and admitted that I loved the bad boys from the UK, 5ive. ❤

Four Colourz is one of those girl groups.. Formed in late 1999, Four Colourz was a quartet with members Kara, Claire, Tierra and Nraca/R-Ca, They started to record their first album, “FourColourz.com”, in the early part of 2000. To promote this album, they were the opening act for the European leg of P. Diddy’s tour while releasing four singles: “Wait”, “Anything”, “ABCD”, and “Dog Me Out”. The girls found minor success in Europe, especially in their home country of Germany. But it wasn’t enough as the girls disappeared off the music radar a year after their debut. It is currently unknown what the girls are up to now; are they still in the entertainment industry or did they retire to a “normal” life?

Luckily, their music is still roaming around the internet for all to enjoy this talented group. You can hear their beautiful yet sassy voices the best in their second single “ABCD”. Although it’s a typical “pop meets R&B from those days”-type of song,  it really does fit the girls’ voice wonderfully. The magic of this song comes from the solo lines, where each girl gets to show off their unique vocals, and in the chorus parts with the girls blending together to create a unified sound. I honestly can’t choose from Claire’s sultry vocals or Tierra’s sweet ones. But, what makes it more memorable is the beat and the melody; creating a high-energy, get up and bounce jam.

If you liked Destiny’s Child, 3LW/Cheetah Girls, or Mis-Teeq, then Four Colourz is for you! With a pinch of sugar, spice, sass, and everything kinda nice, “ABCD” is an unforgettable jam that might have you arbitrary humming parts of the chorus anywhere.

Troop – “Spread My Wings”

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Ahhh, the 90’s and boy bands. How they go hand-to-hand. Following on the success of boybands of the late 1980s like New Kids on the Block and New Edition, Troop was formed in hopes to blend the two with its popish R&B sound called “new jack swing”. Troop formed in 1987 with five members” Steve “Random” Russell, Allen McNeil, John Harreld, Rodney Benford, and Reggie Warren. They released their self-titled album in 1988, which reached #17 on the R&B album charts. Their debut single “Mamacita” debuted at the #2 spot on the R&B single charts. However, Troop didn’t get their first number one until early spring of 1990 with the single “Spread My Wings”.

The band is sort of active these days; they got back together in 2004 and then in 2006. Some of the members have decided to focus primarily on their solo careers. You might recognize Steve Russell as he produces songs for various artists like Jordin Sparks, Chris Brown, and etc. Do you remember “No Air” by Jordin Sparks or “Invisible” by Jennifer Hudson? He wrote those. He also sings on various motion picture soundtracks like “Dreamgirls”. He and Allen McNeil released their debut albums in 2011. McNell also acts but hasn’t been in any TV shows or movies yet.  It is uncertain if John Harreld, Rodney Benford, and Reggie Warren all have careers in the music/entertainment industry as the internet doesn’t have much information on them.

“Spread My Wings”  is a song that was composed on the veins of anything produced by Babyface, Bobby Brown, Bruce Hornsby and The Range, and Chuckii Baker. Don’t let the suave vocals convince you other wise. The song is heavily influenced by the new jack style, that was popular in the 90s, by the heavy use of the drum kit, the good old piano, and the way the vocals are handle. Unlike how the official music video portrays it, this song is not really a dance song. I won’t dance to this song with those moves shown in the video. No way! But,  “Spread My Wings” is more like an easy listening song that you could listen while you go on a drive, just surfing the internet, or doing chores. The feel good attitude of “Spread My Wings” won’t put you to sleep for sure.

More information on Troop can be found here.