Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekend Diversion: 4 Non Blondes

We all like songs other people hate, and vice versa. Arthur’s Law, and all that. This week’s Weekend Diversion is a perfect example.

I liked “What’s Up?” by 4 Non Blondes since it was first released back in 1992 on the album Bigger, Better, Faster, More! Part of the reason I liked it was, if I’m honest, this video: I loved the hat worn by lead singer (and writer of the song), Linda Perry. But I also liked the song itself, of course. Interestingly, Perry once said she wasn’t a fan of her own band at the time because of what she called the "fluffy polished bullshit" sound of the album this song was part of.

The title was chosen to avoid confusion with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On?”, the phrase actually used in the song; “What’s Up” is not in the song at all. It was reasonably successful, reaching 14 on Billboard’s Hot 100, as well as number 2 in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom (though it only made it to 33 in Canada).

Critical opinion of the song is mixed. It’s made a couple lists of the best one-hit wonders, as well as couple lists of the worst song ever. Yep, every song you love, someone else hates, etc.

To me, the most remarkable thing about that song is Linda Perry herself. She’s long been a force in music as a writer and producer. Among the many artists she’s worked with, she co-wrote and produced much of Pink's very successful album Missundaztood, and wrote “Lonely Girl” and the #1 hit, "Get the Party Started". She also wrote “Beautiful”, the #1 hit for Christina Aguilera, for which Perry received a 2004 Grammy Nomination for “Song of the Year” (Aguilera won a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for that song).

Perry, who has always been openly lesbian, is engaged to Sara Gilbert, who played Darlene in the long running TV show, Roseanne.

People may love or loathe the song, but I think respect for Linda Perry’s talents—and integrity—should be pretty universal.

As an side, I replied to a comment on last week’s Weekend Diversion and mentioned, obliquely, that I’d be posting this video. I was aware I’d started a post about the song, and at the time I assumed it was an unfinished post from last year. Turns out, it was actually from August of 2011, but since it had nothing but links, it wasn’t even a rough draft. Technically. I should look through more of my drafts folders to see what I haven’t posted!

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