Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Neglected Hits - On Our Own - Bobby Brown

Oh new jack swing; remember that genre of music? It's not your fault if you don't, it was very much a product of it's time; that time being the very late '80s into the very early '90s. Combine R&B style vocals, '80s production, drum programming, sound samples, then mix in some mild funk and hip-hop.

In some ways, new jack swing is like The Perfect Storm in that it came from a time and place where several differently unique tones came together and made something powerful but not made to last. Once part of the storm settled or moved on, it wasn't so perfect anymore, the weaknesses began to show and the rest of it just faded away eventually.

This time period was also known as the "Golden Age of Hip-Hop," and from that it makes a bit more sense about how a more electronic, danceable version of that music could come about; after all, it was the '80s into the '90s, dancing was totally rad, man. Put on something neon and hit the floor.

Doesn't that fashion trend just fill you with nostalgia? Or horror. Hell, it's terrifying whether you lived through that age or not. New jack swing singled a kind of transitional period for hip-hop just as the '80s into the '90s was a transitional period for the culture in general.

Some things got lost in that change over; chunks of the fashion, (not the hair style though, big '80s hair lasted far too long into the '90s, which is even more frightening than the neon pants in my opinion) and new jack swing.

Maybe that's why despite being a fairly monstrous number 2 hit on the Billboard charts, Bobby Brown's "On Our Own" is seldom heard today. Actually, there's a few contributing factors to that.

1) It's by Bobby Brown - Brown's far more famous for being the drug addled former husband of the late Whitney Houston than for being a member of New Edition or a successful musician in his own right. His 1988 album Don't Be Cruel was a monster of a hit; it spawned five top 10 singles with "My Prerogative" hitting number one. None of that matters though when you're married to a woman who said in a taped interview, "Crack is whack."

2) It's from Ghostbusters II - First of all, I don't care what you say, I really like Ghostbusters II. I fully know it's not as good as the first but I like what the movie does; it's still funny, Peter MacNicol is wonderful as Janosz and a damn toaster dances to Jackie Wilson. There's also this scene:

My feelings aside however, Ghostbusters II is not as fondly remembered as the original and the same applies to its music. Virtually everyone knows part of the lyrics to "Ghostbusters." "Who ya gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!" Everyone. You know any of the lyrics to Bobby Brown's "On Our Own?" Doubt it. Radio stations know this too and will happily play the campier, happier, Academy Award nominated 1984 classic over "On Our Own" any day of the week. Never mind the fact that "Ghostbusters" is a complete rip-off of the Huey Lewis & The News song "I Want A New Drug" and Ray Parker Jr. was apparently specifically told to mimic that song 

But I digress. The point I'm trying to make is that "On Our Own" gets sorely neglected on the radio and in popular culture, largely because of it being a product of its time and it being overshadowed by the classic theme. But here it is for you to enjoy, fresh off of YouTube and posted by the generous person or people at the Movie Soundtracks YouTube channel. Bless your heart.

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