Well, it’s a Thanksgiving two-fer, but it’s also sort of a cop-out.
You see, my first mixtape broke years ago from overuse and constant snagging in my old cassette player. And, as I mentioned last week, 13-year-old me did not always know the correct titles for songs, nor did I bother to write down the artist’s name. So, song #2 on this tape is a complete mystery to me.
In slot 2 on side one, all I wrote was “I’m Sorry.” Like a double rainbow, what does it mean?! I simply have no idea. I’m sure that, at the time the tape broke, I thought I would be able to immediately recall the music to mind, or would remember what snippet of lyric I grabbed the ‘song title’ from, but alas. No go. A tiny part of me wants to say it might be Chicago’s “Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry,” but as that wasn’t exactly Top 40 in 1990/91, I’m not sure why I would have snagged that right off the bat instead of something more popular. So, I’m at a loss, folks. If I can ever get the tape repaired, I look forward to unraveling that particular mystery.
So! On to song #3, because that by itself would have been a sad little update, and because this song (and video) is one of my guiltiest pleasures.
This one also took me a while to figure out. I had labeled the song “Baby, baby, baby,” and if you remember 1990/91 as well as I do, you might realize that that title could well have applied to about two dozen songs. Not helpful, past-Karen, not helpful. I also didn’t have the Disney Channel, so unlike a handful of my peers, I did not swoon over the new Mickey Mouse Club, which not only spawned The Party but their younger castmates Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera … basically everyone in life. It took me ages to remember the group’s name and find the song, as YouTube didn’t have a copy of it until about two years ago.
Looking back on it from this distance, I have to say that – despite The Party being a prefab group pulled out of a television show – the song’s actually pretty great. I was somewhat surprised to find that it had only charted at #55 on the Billboard Pop Charts, but hey, that’s not too bad, considering that Babyface’s Whip Appeal only got to #83 and U Can’t Touch This only to #55 itself. The synth-heavy production, complete with over-reverbed drums, crispy trebles, and New Jack Swing-style bass sit it down smack dab in the early 90s. If New Edition hadn’t fissured into Bell Biv Devoe (the prime movers of NJS) and various solo acts, or if New Kids on the Block (whose last studio album veered heavily into NJS territory and as a result was their most critically successful album) had had a lower-voiced lead singer – and, of course, had either group had female singers to boot – the result might have been something like this. What it reminds me of most, I think, is early-90s Johnny Gill, had he been backed by two white tenors.
I’m surprised the group wasn’t a bigger success, honestly. They were around the same age as the other teen/tween-oriented groups (again, NKOTB), they were fashionable in that Babysitter’s-Club-cum-street-tough look, they were – gasp! – ethnically diverse, and they sounded pretty good, all things considered. Okay, so the girls didn’t do much for me vocally, but they had one heck of a lead singer in Albert Fields, and they clearly could hold their own with the dance moves. They even opened for Vanilla Ice, though in retrospect perhaps that wasn’t the best of ideas, and toured with younger group Hi-Five (who will make an appearance on this blog in a few weeks). Such prefab groups often go the way of the wolves as they grow up and seek musical and personal independence, and of course, they had a younger generation of castmates ready and waiting to take their place. Yet they weren’t just a one-hit or one-album wonder; two years later, they released another, even more NJS-oriented, adult-flavored album featuring writing and production by none other than Teddy Riley and Dr. Dre. Now, one would think that such big names would have created a sound that would have blazed up the charts, but the album barely whimpered on its release, and despite touring with Color Me Badd (yes, yes, we’ll get there too), members started peeling off.
According to Wikipedia, here’s what The Party has been up to in the last twenty-odd years.
Albert Fields would have been the prime suspect for a solo career, in my books – he had the looks, the moves, the Johnny Gill-esque, deeper, more mature, more soulful voice – but, nada. He apparently still records in more indie circles, but he’s just about fallen off the beaten path. He has a grand total of 112 likes on Facebook. My heart hurts a little over that one.
Chasen Hampton (the red-haired dude) has continued to record, releasing a variety of solo albums as well as recording in a group called Buzzfly. Check them out if you so desire. Apparently he’s also producing a kids’ movie due out next year, featuring him, Deedee and Damon as voice actors. I sense a flashback …
Deedee Magno (the Asian chick) went on to perform in a variety of roles on Broadway and off-Broadway, most notably as Nessarose in the first national tour of ‘Wicked’.
Tiffini Hale (the white chick) apparently has done nothing public since 1994.
Damon Pampolina (the … well, the only one left) has done a bit of everything, from commercials to real estate to recording to moving back home and working with Dad, which is apparently where he is now.
Well, what do you think? Anyone actually remember them? Did you like this song? Do you miss the high-waisted, bleached, ripped, tapered jeans, the shoulder pads, and the belly shirts?