Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Free Your Mind" by En Vogue

Twenty-five years ago yesterday, En Vogue released their second album, Funky Divas, and there was certainly no sophomore slump.  The album vaulted the all-female foursome into heavy MTV rotation and the hearts and minds of young teenage boys (present company included).

Formed as kind of a '90s answer to the girl groups of the '50s and '60s, En Vogue -- comprised of Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, and Dawn Robinson -- splashed onto the music scene in 1990 with their debut single "Hold On" (not to be confused with the Wilson Phillips song of the same name), which hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1992, the group released Funky Divas, which got up to #8 on the Billboard album charts and #4 on the UK album charts, eventually going triple platinum in the US.  It spawned five Top 40 hits, including three top 10s -- "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" (#2), "Giving Him Something He Can Feel" (#6), "Free Your Mind" (#8), "Give It Up, Turn It Loose" (#15), and "Love Don't Love You" (#36).

I'm going with "Free Your Mind" because I think it's a badass song with a positive message about not judging a book by its cover.  The song features elements of hip hop, R&B, and hard rock, with all four members of the group wailing out verses and the chorus.  Setting aside the fact that, as a freshman in high school, I enjoyed the video (and other En Vogue videos) because I found the group to be quite attractive, I also thought the song was great because it was basically a hard rocking R&B song, which was certainly unusual.  While the song wasn't as successful on the charts as some of the group's others (not that #8 is anything to throw shade at), "Free Your Mind" stayed in the Billboard Top 40 for 16 weeks, and the video won three MTV VMAs -- Best R&B Video, Best Dance Video, and Best Choreography.

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