By the time Oakland, California natives Dawn Robinson, Maxine Jones, Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron – collectively known as R’n’B super-quartet En Vogue – unleashed their sophomore effort ‘Funky Divas‘ in 1992, the band had already redefined the ever-changing landscape of the early 90’s music scene.
R’n’B/Hip Hop infused sass laced EVERYTHING on mainstream radio – and En Vogue represented the R’n’B/Soul girl-group template leading the brigade that would later include TLC and Destiny’s Child, as well as pure-pop girl-bands like the Spice Girls.
The first quarter of the 90’s was all about En Vogue. Their soulful vocal blends and gorgeous harmonies incorporating R’n’B, Hip Hop, Soul, Pop and Rock, were impossible to escape. Video after video by the band blazed across MTV, and as a soulful and less aggressive antidote to gansta rap – crossover to Pop was comparatively easier for the girls.
Commercially and critically hailed, the group’s first three albums ‘Born To Sing‘, ‘Funky Divas‘ and ‘EV3‘ all crossed the Platinum or Multi Platinum mark in multiple countries, while their classic singles ‘Free Your Mind‘, ‘My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)‘, ‘Whatta Man‘ cemented their status as one of the most successful and iconic groups of all time.
I’ve grown up listening to En Vogue’s stellar discography, their trademark elegance and sass have often been imitated, but never duplicated. One of my fave songs by the band is their 1996 single million-selling single ‘Don’t Let Go (Love)‘ – taken from the soundtrack of the film Set It Off, and also appearing on their 1997 album ‘EV3‘.
The song was the last single by the band to feature all four original band members, before Dawn Robinson exited the group, and remains En Vogue’s biggest hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at # 2 (their third), while hitting the # 1 spot on the R’n’B/Hip Hop Songs Chart (their 6th and last leader on the chart). Across the pond, the single peaked at # 5 on the UK Top 40 as well, hitting # 1 in Norway and Denmark.
‘Don’t Let Go (Love)‘ was and still is an anthem – the group’s mind-boggling delivery of the Rock/R’n’B-tinged song (well drenched in heartache and pain) as well as the dazzling music video remains a highlight of the 90’s. The pain’s palpable as the girls deliver a stunning ode to a lover who refuses to move on beyond just friendship – ‘What’s it gonna be ‘cuz I can’t pretend/Don’t you want to be more than friends/Hold me tight and don’t let go/Don’t let go/You have the right to lose control/Don’t let go’.
That’s what you belt out when you know the one you love ain’t gonna give you anything beyond some slick luv makin‘! Been there, done that y’all!
A much deserved shout-out to the Funky Divas of Soul here on our Throwback Tuesday today – here’s hoping the ladies reunite for a comeback soon!
Check out the girls getting their 90’s fashion on lock in the slick video for ‘Don’t Let Go (Love)‘ right here :