Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rockin' Debuts [A Retrospective] (Part Finale)

The (Slightly Repetitive) Intro:
It's been awhile since I've done a completely arbitrary and totally opinionated (sort of) chart countdown on this blog, and with all of the potential buzzing right now by new artists with their debut singles, I figured I would take a look back at the best of the debut singles of artists in recent memory, in six painless (kind of) installments. Take a look and reminisce. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here and Part 5 is here. Didn't realize I'd drag my feet with this as long as I have. Has it really almost been a month since the first post? Sheesh...

And now, may I present to you, the end of this god-forsaken special (so I can move on to bigger and better things, as should you):

2. Destiny's Child - No No No (Part 2) (1997)
Click here to check out the music video.

The debut album may have landed in stores back in 1998, but it was nearly eight years in the making. The four original members of Destiny's Child began their journey back in Grand Ol' TX in 1990, polishing and perfecting their harmony, performance and pow factor. After several set backs, struggles and label drama, the group was signed to Columbia Records in 1997, and their debut single, "No No No" came out shortly after.

The ballad had some punch, but not enough to make a big impact, and thus Fugees member Wyclef Jean was called in to do a remix. "No No No (Part 2)", as it was dubbed, was re-released to hoopla and love from the R&B community (hitting #1 on the R&B Chart, and #3 on the Hot 100). The album however peaked in the lower Top 50 of the Top 200, and followup singles failed to attract crossover success into the mainstream.

Enter sophomore album, The Writings On the Wall, released in the power pop year of 1999. It was the first album by a harmony girl group I bought and wore out since En Vogue's Funky Divas.

Five years later, and Destiny's Child lost three members and ended up a trio (with a original members Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland, and replacement member Michelle Williams, making them America's answer to the Sugababes), released two more original albums, a Christmas disc, a remix collection, and the following year, a greatest hits. Michelle Williams attempted to conquer Broadway to various success and released a few solo albums varying in genre from gospel to dance. Kelly Rowland released two false-start R&B albums, despite getting fair airplay. And we all know what happened with Beyonce. She pretty much conquered the world.

Overall, Destiny's Child has sold over 52 million records worldwide. William's three solo albums have garnered about 500,000 sold worldwide. Rowland has done a bit better for herself, as her two albums have sold a collective 3.8 million worldwide (and her most recent track with David Guetta has gone to #1 in three countries, including the UK). Beyonce's three solo discs have all peaked at #1 on the album chart in the US, given her four US #1's (plus another from the DC3 Greatest Hits set), and have racked up an estimated 10 million records and counting. This brings DC3 and their alumni's sales totals to around 66.3 million albums sold.

And lest we forget, Destiny's Child's former member, LeToya, has also gained some solo success since leaving the group in 1999, with her debut solo album peaking at #1 on the Billboard 200 and sold an estimated million plus copies, and her sophomore LP due out soon. It is also arguable to thank Destiny's Child for Solange, Beyonce's younger sister who's two albums have sold a combined 250,000 copies, but (her sophomore in particular) given her worldwide acclaim and notice.

Further, Destiny's Child was used to help promote the career of their former labelmate in the debut years of Jessica Simpson, recording a duet with her for her debut album. They also helped introduced Epic Records' girl group PYT to the masses by taking the group on tour with them as their opening act for their first official headlining route.

1. Mariah Carey - Vision of Love (1990)
Click here to watch the music video.

Officially released just six days before my third birthday, Mariah Carey began her startlingly epic career back in June of 1990, with a song that to this day remains her unequivocal best: "Vision of Love". The song, off her self-titled debut album, gained her a Best Female Pop Vocal Performance Grammy, and helped her win the Best New Artist Award.

Now, almost ten years later, and Mariah has released eleven albums with a twelfth on the way, as well as an MTV Unplugged, and various "Greatest Hits" and other song collections. Suffice to say, Ms. Carey has released records at a break-neck pace, despite her very public meltdown in 2001, the failure to the point of comedy of her semi-autobiographical film/soundtrack Glitter, a few more film projects, two very public marriages, three label changes (she received an incredible $30 million to leave Virgin Records after the poor sales of "Glitter") and near constant scrutiny. Needless to say, she's come a long long way since her years as a backup singer to (worthy and talented) Brenda K. Starr in the late 1980's.

There's little Mariah hasn't done, and while I'm a bit out love with her recent work, her catalog is simply undeniable and a critical part of my life's soundtrack. She has eighteen #1's to her credit, the most for any solo artist, second only to the Beatles, and has officially sold the most records of any US female artist, with 63 million sold in the United States alone, 200 worldwide, and with Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel due out soon, that number will unmistakably grow.

I would also be quite remiss if I didn't add that virtually every young ingenue (and quite a few young men as well) often credit Ms. Carey for inspiring them to pursue the music game, to the point now that for any aspiring sanger, citing Mariah as an influence is downright essential. For the sake of example, Christina Aguilera has been quoted as saying that watching Mariah win her Best New Artist Grammy in 1990 inspired her to pursue her musical destiny, which led to Aguilera herself winning the same award a decade later. She even sang Mariah's trademark debut song at her "Mickey Mouse Club" audition.


Myfizzypop said...

thought Mariah's debut was stunning. a terrific collection of songs and one of the key reasons why she was one of my favourite artists throughout most of the 90s. I still think All In Your Mind is a brilliant tune along with the spiritual predecessor to hit Make It Happen, There's Got To Be A Way. Lovely.

J.Mensah said...

YAY! for Mariah being your #1

"Vision of Love" is such a FANTASTIC song and so was the rest of her debut album.

I've loved everything she's done from Mariah Carey to Butterfly, everything since then has been quite patchy. I was skeptical about Rainbow and Glitter -- hated Charmbracelet, LOVED Mimi and bit ??? about E=MC2. She's definitely not as consistent as she use to be.

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