Back In the Day: That 'Summer' Sound

As we say goodbye to summer and hello to fall (and Fashion Week), I'm reviving 'Back In the Day' (1.0 Edition) on a very sad note.

Yesterday, September 8, 2010, Rich Cronin passed away due to an acute form of leukemia. Rich was best known as the lead singer and main lyricist behind LFO, active from 1995 till 2002 (although they briefly reunited in 2009). He also released a solo album in 2008. He was just 35 years young.

LFO, supposedly short for Lyte Funkie Ones (yes, of that spelling), was a pop trio best known for their 1999 single "Summer Girls", chock full of seeming random pop culture references that peaked at #3 on the Hot 100. Rich also took part in the US version of Totally BoyBand, a television show known as Mission ManBand in America which brought various members of 1990s boy bands together to form a new band (that went nowhere -- it also included Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSYNC and Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees).


LFO came from the same management (::cough::svengali::cough::) camp that brought us Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC (as well as O-Town and somewhat forgotten girl group Innosense), Transcontinental Records and Lou ("The Devil" -- at least in my eyes) Pearlman. The group's pop-rap kind of sound featured on "Summer Girls" and their self-titled debut album made them stand-out during a time where "boy bands" (no matter how loose a title) were literally a dime a dozen. Their sophomore album, Life Is Good, was released in 2001 and attempted to get away from the seeming schtick surrounding "Summer Girls", but couldn't match the relative success of its predecessor. The group disbanded shortly thereafter.

Despite the fact that they certainly aren't remembered like the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNCs of yore, no one can deny the stickiness of "Summer Girls". Followup single "Girl On TV" also peaked Top 10, and my favorite single from the band, "West Side Story", was released in 2000 as the beginning of the end in terms of their relevance.

Today, I remember and honor LFO and Rich Cronin for bringing Abercrombie & Fitch to my middle school counciousness, for giving boy band credit to New Kids on the Block where credit's due, and for being a true staple of my childhood music listening. Despite being released eleven years ago (!!), I still remember each tongue-twisting lyric. Rest In Peace, Rich.

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