Missed our review of Greatest Hits episode 3? Check it out right here!
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS OF ARTISTS AND SONGS PERFORMED.
The fourth episode of ABC’s summer series, Greatest Hits, aired on Thursday, July 21. This time, music from 1990 to 1995 was featured. The show seemed to give us only a sampling of the music of the early 90s. With many genres popping up during this time, this episode seemed to graze over a majority of them.
The episode started off with R&B/pop group En Vogue, who were joined by new supergroup June’s Diary to perform “Free Your Mind” from their 1992 album Funky Divas.
This was a good pairing of past and present pop groups, but it was the strangest pairing we have seen on the show so far.
June’s Diary was formed on the BET reality show “Chasing Destiny,” and has only been around since the start of the summer.
At the same time, having these two groups together was almost a passing of the torch in the pop group genre. The performance had a sound reminiscent of Beyonce and the Spice Girls.
The next act was soul/R&B singer Seal (shown above), who performed his hit “Kiss From A Rose” from “Batman Forever.” Though the song sounded great, it seemed that Seal was holding back his voice when his sang. Normally loud, he was quiet and subdued during the performance.
Following Seal was Montell Jordan, who sang the popular “This Is How We Do It” from his 1995 album of the same name. Jordan had great energy on stage, and got the audience singing and dancing along.
(An aside: Huge props to Arsenio Hall for bringing up the ‘95 Bulls in his introduction of the song!)
Next to take the stage was country group Little Big Town, who sang “Wonderwall” by Oasis. This was hyped as a unique rendition of the song, as Little Big Town promised to give the song a country twist.
When performed, however, it did not seem to have any hint of country, and was more quiet and subdued than expected. It sounded more like something you would hear late at night in an Adult Swim bumper. Nevertheless, it sounded pretty cool.
Blues and folk singer Bonnie Raitt followed Little Big Town, who sang “Love Sneakin’ Up On You” with soul/R&B singer Andra Day. We thought that this combo wouldn’t be good, mainly because Day is more poppy in style, while Raitt is folk-to-the-bone.
Surprisingly, the song turned out well. It had a butt-kicking country feel to it, which Day worked with nicely. Afterward, Day thanked Raitt for being an inspiration to her and her contributions to music, and they sang Day’s hit “Rise Up.”
The next act was R&B/pop singer Alessia Cara, who sang “One” by U2, from their 1991 album “Achtung Baby.”
In the original track, Bono’s singing was smooth and clear. When “One” was sung here, Cara’s singing sounded like a mix between modern pop and rap. Her articulation was rather mucky, and she seemed pretty quiet. Even though the renditions are meant to have a flair, something different from the original, Cara’s performance did not seem up to par with this show’s other performances.
R&B group Boyz II Men ended the night with “Motownphilly” from their debut album “Cooleyhighharmony.” The song had a nice funk beat, mixed with some R&B and rap, much unchanged since 1991. The group sounded as fresh as ever, overlooking one member being a little quieter than the others (or was it his microphone?). It was a nice and positive ending to a fun episode.
This episode featured a little bit of everything from the early 90s – pop, rock, R&B, country, among others – but it seemed to be only a sampling of everything. The show did not dig deeper into any specific genre, but rather just skimmed the surface of what the early 90s was.
We really wanted to hear more.
There were many aspects in this episode that left us scratching our heads. First, why was June’s Diary, a group only around for a couple months, formed from a reality show, and only one single to their name so far, on the same stage as En Vogue, a group that has been around since 1989, and has twenty-four singles? If June’s Diary had a little more experience and exposure in the music listener’s world and some more popular songs, then this pairing would be neat to see.
Plus, why was Alessia Cara picked to perform U2’s “One”? Her singing style did not go along well with the style of the song. We understand that she may have been putting her own style on the song, which is absolutely okay, but she also should have incorporated U2’s original style into her performance, too.
It was awesome to see 90s rock get some representation on the show, but we wanted more. We wanted to see bands like the Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., maybe even some sort of representation of Nirvana (maybe an appearance from Dave Grohl, lead singer of the Foo Fighters and former drummer for Nirvana?).
90s hip-hop and rap got a little bit of representation, too, but we missed the big names in the east coast vs. west coast rap rivalry of the 90s, like Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G., and N.W.A., among others.
ABC made a lot of confusing decisions regarding this episode, yet it was still enjoyable. Hopefully, next week will not leave us asking why, but have us saying “wow!”
4 LPs (out of 5)
Predictions: Next week’s show will feature music from 2000 to 2005, a period that still feels like yesterday to many of us.
We are hoping to hear some pop-punk, the genre that made the early 2000s. Bands like Green Day, blink-182, Sum 41, and many, many, MANY more. To quote the intro to the Pop-Punk Power Hour (every Friday from 3-4 PM on FM89!), “we would literally die for pop-punk!”
Fifth Harmony is confirmed to appear on the show, and they will be singing some hits from Destiny’s Child. We may also see more of the female pop singers and groups, like Britney Spears and the Spice Girls.
Visit your online home for pure rock WONC.org next week for our review of episode five of Greatest Hits!
Featured photo courtesy of ABC.