Wednesday, 19 May 2010

En Vogue - RNB's Desperate Housewives

En Vogue's z-snapping 2000 Stargate-remixed comeback single Riddle really ought to have returned them to the charts, with their gothic glamour vamped up and vaccum-cleaning lyrics juxtoposed on one of the strangest ever no-you-didn't girlband anthems. En Vogue still remain the sexiest girl group silouette of all time bar none - their vocal class was equally unbeatable, and momentarily they were quite the phenomenon in their native United States.

Competing with the likes of Destiny's Child and TLC in a Billboard Hot 100 climate dominated by pop was always going to be a struggle for these soul sisters, and the Stargate Radio Mix is a stunning tour de force, but perhaps the song's structure was far too elaborate for its own good as far as relating to the yoof-dominated market. With a thunderous orchestra emphasizing darkness and horror, some sizzlin' hot ass hunk of chocolate has been caught out by these put-upon and putting-out ladies putting 2 and 2 together. Each member scorned gets her two-cents and probably earned as much in royalties given its chart poitions (USA #92, UK #33) - ouch! The explorative verses are neverending sources of pleasure, keeping funky and flavoursome whilst counting down reality.

Maxine feels something strange about her fellas kiss on Monday morning, then when knocking back cocktails with the girls only sees his car outside their favourite resturaunt on Tuesday - she's not gon' believe it until her 'eyes see what I thought was true' and you'd think she would just leave it that, but hell no we have plenty more where that came from.

Likewise, it is not until Wednesday that Terry's twitchin for the tooth. Ellis stands her ground the best way someone who doesn't have a job can - oh yes, her man leaves his briefcase when he SAID he had work. And after checking caller id she DON'T know nobody named Tyrone... Nu uh, cue the rhapsodic finger-waving chorus.

Finally, Cindi doesn't find out until it's the weekend - cos you knows thats the days she does her cleanin' innit - and finds clumps of black woman hair she wouldn't be caught dead with. Case/briefcase closed.

Currently destroying Christina Aguilera's career if tirelessly annoying rabid popjustice posters are to be believed, none other than C. 'Tricky' Stewart is behind the Red Zone Remix Edit, which is a mild groove completely outshone by the impressive latin-flavoured Club Remix Edit, which deserves more of a title. It's a sizzling stir fry of J-Lo and Gloria remixes tossed and intoxicated Miami gay club inflections those two divas would sell their henpecked husbands for.

The album version (simply named as Radio Edit on the CD) really does not stand up as a radio mix (the Masterpeice Theatre album was all about their impeccable vocal aesthetic and has a coherence not meant to be served in acute slices). Also. three MILFs in their late 30s singing about finding weaves in their man's washing did not really scream empowerment the way Independent Women or No Scrubs did, but to see it that way was to miss the point, as the lyric continues:

And when I washed your shirts I just could not believe
I'm picking hair weave off your sleave
Found a letter in your pocket from Louise - puh-lease!

Highbrow campness galore, their concept album Masterpeice Theatre is a classic, and Riddle an interesting and highly-rewarding attempt to crossover that was sadly far too glam for mainstream radio to get.

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