Did you think we could get through 1991 without Amy Grant? Of course not.
That curly hair, that smile. Those shoulder pads! And eek, girl, those mom jeans. Some things are better left in 1991 (though I have to say, I still want one of those hats. Actually, I kind of want this one with the top cut out, because I was never allowed to have one when I was 13:)
I’m not afraid to admit that there was a brief window in 1991 when I thought this was the best song that had ever been written. I felt like I was finally getting the hang of this pop music thing. It was starting to make sense; I could figure out the general gist of things, sort of predict what could or should come next in a song, and start to hear how certain songs hearkened back to others. “Baby Baby” perfectly encapsulated every single element of early 90s pop in such a way that I was, at the time, thrilled by my own ability to parse it. The chords worked as they should, nothing too tricky or elaborate. As most good pop songs of that time period did, it includes spontaneous!modulation up a second (and I was really fascinated by the fact that you could ‘tell’ it was coming). The jangly, synthed keyboards? The requisite echo-y snare? The slightly funky fuzzy bass underlying everything? Yep, all there, wrapped up in a perfectly perky little Amy Grant bow. (And when we hit 1992, you’ll understand a bit better about why grunge was so anathema, and then so important to me.) I also appreciated that her voice was closer to my own range and without a lot of the virtuosic ornaments, so I could sing along in a way that I couldn’t do with the then-new Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston. Looking back on it now, I really appreciated that aspect of this song in particular: to me, it was accessible, vocally, musically, and lyrically.
Amy Grant burst on to the scene (and by scene, I mean the Christian music one) in the early 80s, when she was still a teenager. It wasn’t until the mid-80s that the rest of the world got a chance to hear her, when she topped the charts dueting with Peter Cetera on “The Next Time I Fall.” After that, her next two solo albums took a more mainstream pop focus, and alongside reining King of Christian Rock Michael W. Smith, she managed to have a very successful crossover career.
“Baby Baby” was released at the very beginning of 1991, yet didn’t top the charts until April of that year. While it was only Number 1 for two weeks, the song was virtually inescapable that year and for some time after. Fun facts: it was Amy Grant’s first No. 1 hit as a solo artist, and the first No. 1 hit on the pop charts by any Christian music artist. Contrary to popular belief (and to the delightfully cute music video), the song was actually written about her infant daughter, Millie (with first husband Gary Chapman).
By the way: the cute boyfriend in the video? Model Jme Stein, who has aged very well indeed:
The video, along with the song’s catchiness and saccharinity, helped to cement Amy Grant in the public eye as the girl next door. However, in some parts of the Christian community, she was becoming a little too Wild and Crazy (she’s cavorting! in a music video! with a cute man who is most assuredly not her husband!), and of course when she divorced Gary Chapman several years later and married country legend Vince Gill, that proved to some, at least, that she was a ‘fallen woman.’ Despite whatever fallout her divorce and pop!music star fame may have caused her in certain communities, she continued – and continues – to put out new albums, currently holding the record for the most popular & best-selling Christian pop artist of all time.
Fortunately for members of all faith and non-faith groups, however, she’s stopped wearing the shoulder pads. Whew. Dodged a bullet, there, folks.