Tuesday, September 14, 2010

377 CrazySexyCool. Mega selling R and B from TLC

Album: CrazySexyCool
Artist: TLC
Genre: R and B
Year: 1994


  1. Intro-Lude
  2. Creep
  3. Kick Your Game
  4. Diggin' on You
  5. Case of the Fake People
  6. Crazy Sexy Cool - Interlude
  7. Red Light Special
  8. Waterfalls
  9. Intermission-Lude
  10. Let's Do It Again
  11. If I Was Your Girlfriend
  12. Sexy - Interlude
  13. Take Our Time
  14. Can I Get a Witness - Interlude
  15. Switch
  16. Sumthin' Wicked This Way Comes


CrazySexyCool has been sold a few times over the years. In fact this album has sold 15 million copies throughout the world which is an unbelievable effort. According to the RIAA it's been classified platinum 11 times which puts it in the same category as Sgt Peppers and above Nevermind, The Joshua Tree and Led Zeppelin's debut. The Singles from the album (all four of them) were huge hits across the planet and went to number one on most charts. And yet I've never heard any of it. You might think I live in a cave somewhere with a box of Dylan albums and a bag on my head but believe it or not I'm a functioning member of society who mixes freely with the general public. So how did a mammoth selling album released in my lifetime completely slip me by? The answer is that music has become so compartmentalized and fragmented lately that it's possible to completely ignore single genres. I've never liked R and B and so I avoid it and thanks to the internet it's easy to do. I listen to what I want when I want to rather than turning on a radio and expecting it to play me things I might enjoy in between the ads and incessant prattle. (Listen to me, I'm like an old man with new technology. Aged attitudes with a finger on the tech-pulse: "Hey you kids! Get off my lawn or I'll put photoshopped pictures of you on my blog!" Tragic)

Anyway the point is that I'm encountering an album for the first time which a large section of the public is already intimately familiar with. My horizons are being widened by a detailed examination of a genre that I'm happy to leave to other people (15 million of them). So has it converted me to the joys of R and B? Has this die-hard rock fan with a Beatles obsessions discovered the hip-hop fan that lay dormant and neglected in his soul for so long?

No.

Let's be honest that was the answer everyone was expecting and who am I to disappoint them? I gave CrazySexyCool the regulation four listens with an open mind and came to the same conclusion I reached after the end of my first encounter with the opening couple of tracks. It's just not for me. So what's the problem? What is it that moves 15 million people and leaves me completely unaffected? The obvious answer is the fact that it lacks the things I love (riffs, lead breaks, shouty vocals) and has lots of the things that I try to avoid in music (processed beats, electronic instrumentation) but I think it does go a bit deeper than that. One of the things I really respond to in music is the ethos behind it. I like the idea of the rock rebel who has some degree of control over what they do. The Beatles in the studio with George Martin revolutionizing music, Dylan taking total control of his image and reinventing himself, the Stones reveling in excess as tax exiles in France, Midnight Oil refusing to temper their politics for the sake of record sales and Radiohead trusting their fans to come with them on a musical journey to a destination they hadn't mapped out themselves. It's what makes music great and inspirational. And I don't just love it because of the mystique behind it but because that passion and maverick attitude comes through in the music.

What I hear when I listen to CrazySexyCool is the sound of people trying to make as much money as possible. The tracks on CSL were written by 17 different people. More than 7 people worked as producers. The artists who appear on the record cover are reduced to models in video clips whose heavily processed voices help generate the record sales. When it was released CrazySexyCool sold 11 million albums in the US alone. All four singles entered the Top 5 with two of them spending time at the top spot. TLC were generating incredible amounts of cash but the band filed for bankruptcy not long after it's release. While record executives and producers were getting filthy rich the girls themselves were basically just exploited for their looks. The songs are basically recordings of girls singing other people's songs under the instruction of their lords and masters for the benefit of men in suits who never play a note. That's not rock and roll it's slavery with a video clip.

Highlight: Waterfalls
Lowlight: If I was your girlfriend.

Influenced by: What we used to call R and B
Influenced: What we now call R and B


Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I THINK TLC IS THE BEST BAND IN THE WORLD, THEY ARE IN STYLE AND THEY ARE THE BOMB..... I HOPE THEY ARE THE NUMBER 1 IN THE COUNT DOWN, MY BIRTHDAY IS IN APRIL AND I RELLY WANT THEM TO COME SING NO SCRUBS I WOULD BE SO GLAD THAT HAS BEEN MY BIRTHDAY WISH FOR A LONG LONG LONG LONG LONG TIME, I WOULD GIVE MY BIRTHDAY MONEY UP ....... [THATS 100.00 DOLLERS ] I LOVE YOU TLC "

-That's really sweet. I think TLC demand more than 100 dollars for an appearance fee but I'd really love it if they made this person's birthday.

So does TLC stand for This Lovely CD or Totally Lackluster Crap? Let me know below.

3 comments:

  1. If the cover's anything to go by, the girls are very pretty.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 15 million copies? wow. Thats the modern world in which us old rockers have to face upto. Now ,where is is my hoodie and beat box?

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  3. I only know TLC for two things -- their hit song "Waterfalls," and for singing the theme song for the Nickelodeon sketch comedy show All That.

    Good to know that they had some critical and commercial success, of course. Sad to know (and even worse that I find it shocking -- where was I when this happened?) that the girls themselves went bankrupt and were, as you put it, exploited while the Man was getting rich off of them.

    ReplyDelete