Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Veteran music journalist with 20+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, & B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
See my complete profile
Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week I’m hopping into my time machine again, and this time around I’m setting the coordinates for 1997. This is a heck of a landing spot for yours truly, as in January of ’97 I was in my second semester of my freshman year of college.
Stepping out of my time machine I hear SO MANY songs that bring back memories.
This was the last great era of R&B, and the genre dominated the Billboard Hot 100. Toni Braxton pulled double duty on the chart, as she was at #1 with her epic ballad “Unbreak My Heart,” and at #32 with the far more upbeat “You’re Makin’ Me High.” Keith Sweat had two songs on the chart, as well, and En Vogue, Blackstreet, Ginuwine, Mint Condition, Babyface, Dru Hill, 112, 702, and Aaliyah could also all be found on the Hot 100 … and that’s just a partial list!
R&B was clearly the dominant genre, but it wasn’t the only genre giving us classics. We’ll hear some hip-hop, pop, and even a little rock as we dive into this look at the Billboard Hot 100 from this week back in 1997. So let’s get into it!
Of course, since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
3. En Vogue – Don’t Let Go (Love)
En Vogue being all over MTV at the same time I was a teenager was a truly magical confluence of events, and I’m pretty sure damned near every guy in my generation feels the same way. These ladies were strong, sexy, talented … I better chill, I have more of this column to write.
4. Blackstreet w/ Dr. Dre, & Queen Pen – No Diggity
If you’re looking for one song to represent mid to late ‘90s R&B, Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” would be many people’s first choice. Teddy Riley’s insanely dope production, and not one, but two guest verses from rappers (although I’m using that term loosely for Dre) made “No Diggity” a song that was played nonstop for what seemed like an entire year. A quarter century later it can still get the party started.
12. Ginuwine – Pony
Subtlety, thy name is not Ginuwine, but who on earth wants subtlety, when we can have “Pony” instead?
16. Sheryl Crow – If It Makes You Happy
Sheryl Crow is an artist that’s basically universally loved, and as I get older I find myself with more and more of her albums in my collection. Hey, it makes me happy, which means it can’t be that bad.
18. Mint Condition – What Kind of Man Would I Be
It would be a remarkably difficult task to choose a favorite R&B album from this era, but Mint Condition’s Definition of a Band would receive strong consideration. It was just that damned good, and the singles, like “What Kind of Man Would I Be,” were flat out spectacular.
19. Lil’ Kim w/ Puff Daddy – No Time
This is your friendly reminder that Lil’ Kim was the leader of a generation of female emcees that truly changed the game, and paved the way for Cardi, Meg, and pretty much everyone else we hear today.
21. Babyface w/ LL Cool J, & Jody Watley – This Is for the Lover In You
There were a bevy of influential artists in the R&B world at this point in time, but only a handful rank with Babyface, whose songwriting, producing, and vocal skills made him a true triple threat. By 1997 all he had to do was say he was interested in working with someone, and that someone would be on the song, as evidenced by this heavyweight guest-laden version of “This Is for the Lover In You.”
27. Dru Hill – Tell Me
Dru Hill’s time in the spotlight may not have lasted quite as long as some of the other groups of this era, but they made some JAMS. “Tell Me” was one of their best.
36. OutKast – ATLiens
ATLiens was in heavy rotation in my dorm freshman year thanks to my roommate, and believe me, there were no complaints from me! I still know damned near every lyric from the album.
FYI – I also contributed a classic hip-hop album to our rotation, and you’ll find out which later in this column.
37. Dishwalla – Counting Blue Cars
If you remember this song by its name, you’re better than most. If I were to say, “It’s the song where they talk about God, and how they really want to meet her,” pretty much everyone would go, “Oh yeah, that song!,” because “Counting Blue Cars” was ever-present for quite a while, and still gets play on rock radio today.
And no, I can’t name another Dishwalla song, and neither can you … at least not without Googling.
51. Aaliyah – If Your Girl Only Knew
Aaliyah gave us so many dope songs in such a tragically short time span. With her unique vibe, and sound, it could easily be argued she laid the groundwork for future generations of female R&B singers. Her legacy is an impressive one, and in 1997 she was at the top of her game with songs like “If Your Girl Only Knew.”
69. Luscious Jackson – Naked Eye
One of the most underrated bands of the ‘90s, Luscious Jackson was so f*cking cool, and I’m so f*cking thankful they existed when MTV showed videos all night long, because I’m fairly sure that’s how I first discovered “Naked Eye.”
84. Freak Nasty – Da’ Dip
Did we have party jams in 1997? You’re damned right we did! Time to get to dippin’!
90. Camp Lo – Luchini
You know how earlier I mentioned I contributed a classic hip-hop album to my dorm room’s rotation. Camp Lo’s Uptown Saturday Night was that album, and “Luchini” was the jam! Put this song on today, and I’m gonna react with the same high energy enthusiasm I had for it back in 1997.
That’s all for this edition of Pop Shots, but come back next Monday for more shots on all things pop.