1999 Billboard Top 100: #50-46

Halfway there. That should mean we are in the better half, right?

#50: "808" by Blacque

Blaque is an all-girl R&B group. There were a few of those around at that time.

Music opens with a nice guitar/piano mix, which is rather interesting combo for R&B, although it gets repetitive. The main singer sounds pretty good, with a deep and soulful voice during the verses and showing range during the chorus, but the background singer sounds like a female Steve Urkel, which is not very good.

This is a not-quite love song, being more about sex. The title comes in when she says that her lover is going to go "boom like an 808". No, I have no idea what an 808 is.

This song is...not exactly bad, but far too standard for its own good. The lyrics are gently inoffensive for their subject matter, which I appreciate, and the lead singer does have a nice voice, but the music gets quite repetitive and dull quickly, and the backing singer's voice is grating. Overall, it's nothing better or worse than what I've heard hundreds of times.

#49: "Back 2 Good" by Matchbox Twenty

Matchbox Twenty is a band I am somewhat familiar with, although the only songs by them I can think of off the top of my head are "She's So Mean" and "Bent".

Music opens up basically the way I expected. Drum beat, followed by undistorted electric guitar. This is clearly a "rock ballad", or as close as a band like this gets to that. Rob Thomas isn't a bad singer, but he isn't all that different from other rock singers at the time.

The lyrics are a bit unclear, and not just because Rob Thomas sings like he's on a couple painkillers, but the gist of it seems to be an apology to someone he wronged in the past, saying that "everyone here hates everyone here", but saying that he doesn't know how to get back to good.

This is a decent song, but the confusing lyrics are not exactly improved by Rob Thomas' delivery, and the music isn't all that great. Despite that, I still have to give credit to Rob Thomas for taking a risk and going for a song outside the band's usual style, and he doesn't exactly fail at it. He just doesn't rise above average.

#48: "Tell Me It's Real" by K-Ci and Jojo

They are an R&B duo. And they are both male, something I wasn't expecting with those names. Apparently, "K-Ci" is really Cedric, and "Jojo" is Joel.

Music is about what you expect from R&B, a couple of piano lines, drums, and quite a bit of an echo on the singer from harmonies during the chorus. The singer isn't bad, but he does have an annoying habit on the verses of holding out on a syllable during the verses, which is bit distracting, and clearly just a way to match the syllable count with the music without actually thinking of how to make the number of syllables match up.

The song is, obviously, a love song. He wants the girl he is with to tell him that the feelings that they feel are real, and that is up to the two of them to make the love last forever.

This is about the definition of bland R&B song. Nothing is done really badly, but the lyrics are forgettable, the singing is decent without really being stand-out, and the music is R&B Central, sounding like the template you'd use as a guide rather than an actual musical piece. Overall, forgettable is the best way to describe it.

#47: "Anywhere" by 112 and Lil' Zane

Lil' Z, I've never heard of, but I'm sure is a rapper. As for 112, they are an R&B group, and not one I'm overly fond of.

Music sounds like a weird attempt at electronica without really understanding what electronica music is, with a plunking synth line and seemingly random drums. The singer for 112 is forgettable at best, but Lil' Zane is actually a pretty good rapper.

The lyrics, whether done by 112 or Lil' Zane are about the same thing. He wants sex with a girl, and tells her that they can do it anywhere. No, seriously, the song actually says that.

This song is the first one on this set that isn't generic. Unfortunately, it is in the opposite direction. The music is just using a new style without understanding how to make that style work, the singing is decent at best, and the lyrics are cring-worthy. The sole bright spot of the song is Lil' Zane, because he has quite a bit of rapping skill, and the lyrics match his style quite well. As for 112...between this and "Peaches and Cream", I am suspecting they have issues with sex.

#46: "Lullaby" by Shawn Mullins

Shawn Mullins is a singer-songwriter. According to the infallible source of Wikipedia, he's mostly into folk and adult alternative.

This song is definitely a mix of the two. The drum beat sounds like something out of Red Hot Chili Peppers, but the guitar, save a few moments like the chorus, sounds more like folk, along with a nice piano line. Shawn Mullins takes a bit of an interesting switch to the song, with the verses being spoken verse, but busting out a surprisingly strong alternative rock singing voice for the chorus. It works strangely well.

The lyrics are, as you can tell by the title, a lullaby of sorts. The chorus is basically a traditional lullaby, featuring the lines "Everything's going to be all right, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye." The spoken verses, however, are describing a girl, eventually revealed to be Shawn Mullins' girlfriend/wife/fiancee.

This song is definitely the strongest of these five, and one of the strongest of 1999 so far. The music is unique, with two seemingly different styles meshed together quite well, and the spoken verse verses/sung chorus actually works out quite well. The lyrics could use a bit of polishing up, with maybe more than two repeating lines in the chorus, but this was a strong effort overall, and one that proved that there is a way to take twists on song styles and still make it sound good.

Well, that list started off mediocre, dipped down into cringe territory with #47, then went back up to the high point at the end. Let's see what's next.

Previously: #55-51

Next: #45-41

Lullaby is one of those songs that just gets stuck in your head.. I also like Shimmer by Shawn Mullins!

 

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