If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again … I spent roughly half of my high school allowance earnings on New Kids on the Block paraphernalia, and the other half on the unabashedly 90s invention, the “cassingle.” Money well spent in both cases.
Well, no, I can’t back that up. If I had saved some of the NKOTB schwag and kept it pristine, I might have been able to make back 10% of my money. Ditto the cassingles – what collector’s items those might be! But alas, I used them up and wore them out, leaving me only with shame, memories, and cautionary tales for the generation that follows me. A generation that gets to download any single song it wants for no more than $1.29 on iTunes.
Not me. I paid $3.49 for the privilege of one song (and a crappy B-side) in cassette form. And when I was in high school, $3.49 was like seventy-five dollars today.
Perhaps not. But I cleaned a lot of toilets and babysat a lot of weirdos to keep my cassingle collection fresh.
I’ve thought about that old collection from time to time, but not necessarily about the ‘classic’ or ‘decent’ or ‘un-embarrassing’ songs I’d wish I’d saved in that format. For example, R.E.M.’s ‘Stand’ was the first cassingle I bought.
No, rather, I think of those lost and unloved singles. The deep-in-the-bowels-of-American-Top 40 cuts you won’t hear on Sirius’ 90s on 9. Little gems that maybe you will enjoy (re)discovering with me. And laughing about the fact that one day, long ago, I paid $3.49 for the ability to be able to listen whenever I wanted.
So as to not make this entry too cumbersome, here’s part one, with part two to follow sometime (I hope) soon. The quality on these videos is far from optimal, but what can I say – there aren’t many people uploading these lost ‘classics.’
Judson Spence, Yeah Yeah Yeah
Top Spot on U.S. Pop Charts: 32
My friend Jason saved me 35 dimes by giving this to me in exchange, I think, for an extra copy of Achtung Baby I had. He may have won out on that deal. Judson may or may not be some sort of Christian ‘rocker,’ but despite the sole reference to ‘heaven,’ and ‘guardian angels,’ this song isn’t about anything overtly spiritual. It’s a simple ode to love that may or may not be unrequited, Yeah (cubed) has got a bit of soul and enough repetition to make it catchy but not monotonous. I vaguely remember a video, but I’ll be damned if I could find it on the world wide webs … here’s a look at the song.
Titiyo, My Body Says Yes
Top Spot on U.S. Pop Charts: 42
I don’t ever recall hearing this hip-pop singer’s name spoken aloud, but it sure looks like it would be pronounced “[Crude name for women’s body part] + [casual greeting in urban cultures],” so it’s no wonder her career never took off (except in her native Sweden). (Side note: Wiki also tells me she is the half sister of Neneh Cherry???)
This song — Tityo’s biggest U.S. hit at 42 on the charts — is energetic, fun, and better than anything Paula Abdul ever did. It tells a story involving a sweet guy, a bicycle, and a tempted good girl gone bad (maybe). This was one cut I could never even find on Napster back in the day (not that I was looking, Lars).
George Lamond and Brenda K. Starr, No Matter What
Top Spot on U.S. Pop Charts: 49
Long before Rihanna and Eminenm, years before Drake and Nicki Minaj, there was this cheesy duo of love-against-all-odds. Brenda K. Starr is best known (?) for doing the original version of ‘I Still Believe’ that Mariah Carey later covered. The jury is still out on George Lamond’s most memorable contribution to society. The lyrics are saccharine and the tune is corny, but the harmonies aren’t bad and you’ve gotta admire the passion contained within the bridge. You gotta!
Nia Peeples, Kissing the Wind
Top Spot on U.S. Pop Charts: 76
First of all, Ms. Peoples (not to be confused with a Pebbles, a similarly exotic gal singer who had hits at roughly the same time before screwing TLC out of all of their money) is having a career resurgence playing Emily’s super-hot Mom on Pretty Little Liars. She makes the cut for this reason alone. The song’s not great aside from the relatively decent chorus, but it’s worth revisiting once every six years or so.
The sole video I found didn’t allow embedding, so here’s a link for you…