“Play The Hits!” Volume Two: February 1992

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Dave Hogan

George Michael and Elton John’s (above) rendition of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” did better on the charts than John’s original version.

Ryan Jones, Editor-in-Chief

We’re back with another week of nothing but the hits! If this is your first time, every week we pick a random year and look at the top five songs from Billboard’s Hot 100 from this week. Last week we talked synthesizers, weird music videos and everything else that defined 1985. Now we can replace those scrunchies with flannels and swap out the neon colored clothes for baggy ones, we’re talking 1992. Without further adieu, let’s dive into the top five from February 9-15.

5. To Be With You – Mr. Big

Simple stuff sells. Mr. Big proved that with this one, the “one hit” part of their one hit wonder. But then again…Mr. Big isn’t really a one hit wonder. Sure, the band’s hey day in the U.S. has long since passed, but Mr. Big actually saw some sustained success overseas. The band had been releasing music all the way up to 2017 and maintained popularity in Japan the whole way. Isn’t that wild? No? Anyways, back to the song. Again, the structure of it could not be more simplistic. The chords, chorus and “guitar solo” that’s just the exact melody of the chorus give it a pretty boring sound, even for a pop song. While Mr. Big certainly didn’t break any barriers with this one, there’s no denying its catchiness. A sign of the times, the hand claps and harmony on the chorus scream “please sing along to this!” Overall, I always thought this sounded like a slightly above average Christian rock song.

4. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – George Michael/Elton John

We’ve got a cover (remix?) coming in at the four spot with George Michael and Elton John’s live rendition of John’s 1974 hit. This live duet was recorded at Michael’s 1991 show at Wembley Arena in London. Michael and John’s duet had more success on the charts than the 1974 original song, though the original version is infinitely superior to this. No shade here, Michael’s voice is certainly worthy of the cover and John’s voice in the ’90’s is just as captivating as it was in the ’70’s. The accompanying choir does a great job, too, but the original is simply too perfect of a song to try and out do. As great as Michael is, his voice does not come across as convincing and powerful as John’s does. The piano also does not sound as smooth as it does on the original record, though this might just be one of the difficulties of recording live songs. I’ve always had a bias against live versions of songs; the sound is usually too raw and doesn’t capture the depth of songs like this as well as the studio version usually does. Despite this, from a visual standpoint this song is electric. John coming out to a roaring applause as he joins in on his masterpiece of a song is truly a powerful moment.

3. Diamonds and Pearls – Prince and the New Power Generation

Prince checks in at the number three spot this week with the title song from his 13th studio album, Diamonds And Pearls. Prince is backed by his band N.P.G for the first time on this album. It’s kind of tough to judge this one. If it was anyone but Prince, I would probably love this song. But it is Prince, so I’m judging it on a bit of a curve here. On the positive side, Rosie Gaines accompanying vocals completely steal the show. Gaines goes toe-to-toe with Prince as she belts out the call-back chorus. Their vocal battle saves the song, which has a little too much going on instrumentally. But man, hearing Gaines hit those high notes  make you forget all about that. I think that’s the ultimate flaw of the song – not letting the amazing vocals breathe.

2. I Love Your Smile – Shanice

This one wins the week for me. Shanice’s vocal range shines on her standout hit “I Love Your Smile,” but the track’s melody might be my favorite part of the song. The melody itself is nothing too crazy from a music theory standpoint, but when Shanice harmonizes with the flutes it makes for a beautiful sound and together they make one of the most naturally catchy choruses ever. Branford Marsalis puts the cherry on top of this one with an elegant saxophone solo. Shanice’s vocals are reminiscent of Chaka Khan, which is probably the highest honor I can give. Sadly, Shanice never again matched the success she found from this song, but some of her less popular work is still a great edition for any music fans’ collection. It feels like Shanice mastered the sound of late ’80’s soul/pop, but was just a few years late from being one of the more recognizable names today.

  1. I’m Too Sexy – Right Said Fred

“I’m Too Sexy” is kind of like a podcast. It sounds like four guys who are not remotely funny got together and were like “let’s record this,” and boy did the people buy it up. Though I am basing this off of no factual evidence, this is the worst song ever recorded in human history. “I’m Too Sexy,” which reached number one in five other countries outside of the U.S., is a satirical song about body builders and their egos. The repetitive lyrics list off the things the big man is “too sexy” for and they drone on as the singer keeps a steady, low pitch. Still, it’s tough to judge this considering it is satire. Were they trying to be as bad as possible? Perhaps, and if so, hats off to them. My gripe is that it just…isn’t funny? The worst part about this song, worse than the dumb lyrics and creepy singing, is the music behind it. The keyboard beat sounds like it was ripped right from a royalty free song and the guitar riff is literally just a Jimi Hendrix riff. In whole, the backing is just a bunch of different pieces from other songs that only further amplifies the absolute absurdity of this song. In its defense, it is a fantastic archetype to the modern meme.