Boyz II Men
Under the Streetlight
Boyz II Men have embraced the sound of old-school
doo-wop music from the very beginning. Their second huge single from their
breakout debut album Motownphilly
was an a capella cover of an
obscure soundtrack single from the 70s "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to
Yesterday," which came from the long-forgotten film
Cooley High and was essentially
an attempt to bring street-corner singing to the 90s. Many of their biggest
hits such as "End of the Road" and "On Bended Knee" have used this
singing style as a keystone for their sound.
In 1992, they even covered the Five Satins' doo
wop classic "In the Still of the Night" for the soundtrack of the TV
miniseries The Jacksons: An American
Dream. The song was released as a single and reached the top five of the
Billboard Hot 100. They also
covered the classic Grease song
"Beauty School Dropout" in the 2015 TV special and record
Vol. 1 in 2004), Motown classics (Motown:
A Journey Through Hitsville USA in 2007) and more generic and eclectic
love ballads (Love in 2009), it
probably was only a matter of time before they put together an album of
classic doo-wop tunes from the 1950s.Since Boyz II Men have spent much of the new
millennium doing covers albums of their favorite music 70s soul hits (
Under the Streetlight
is that album.
Well, it's not completely a cover album, the final
song "Ladies Man" is a doo-wop-styled cover of an obscure Boyz II Men b-side
from their last album Collide
(2014), but it is remade to feel completely authentic to the album's musical
It's a little questionable who Boyz II Men's audience is with this album.
With most of the songs being 60 or more years old, the band's fans probably
won't be on the lookout for them. Also, so many of these songs are
undeniable classics that there are many other versions of them out there, so
they won't necessarily be getting the casual doo-wop fans who'd be more
likely to search out the originals.
However, the guys take nine R&B classics and give them a sweet and sexy
sheen, and while the production is faithful to the original arrangements, it
basically does have a modern sheen so that some of this could possibly catch
Probably most likely to break out are some of the lesser known tunes. Sam
Cooke's gorgeous "I'll Come Running Back to You" and Irma Thomas' smoldering
"Anyone Who Knows What Love Is" both deserve to be kept in the public eye.
(It turns out "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is" was co-written by a very young
Randy Newman! Who knew?)
As for the classics, no one will ever deny that
songs like "A Thousand Miles Away," "Tears on My Pillow" and "Stay" are
great, great tunes. The group teamed up with former Teenager Jimmy Merchant
on his group's "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" Also along for the ride are
long-time Boyz II Men collaborator Brian McKnight, jazz-a
capella group Take 6 and former
Glee diva Autumn Riley.
Under the Streetlamp
is an old-fashioned labor of love for the group, but it is a sweet and
soulful one which is definitely worth checking out.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2017 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: November
RETURN TO RECORD
Copyright © 2004-2017 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 29, 2004, November 2, 2011
and November 7, 2017.
Boyz II Men-Twenty
it really been 20 years since "Motownphilly?"
Apparently it's been that long and the best-selling
R&B group Boyz II Men
are reminding us of their staying power and their ability to live up to
their name. No longer boyz but grown
men, their aptly entitled anniversary album, Twenty, is a very
pleasant jaunt down R&B/Pop music memory lane. No, this isn't another
greatest hits album, but instead a mixture of re-recorded Boyz II Men
staples as well as some new music with that signature Boyz II Men blend.
a few of their previous albums, lost is the anchor of bass, Michael McCary.
The re-worked classics still sound as good as before, but just don't have
the fullness of the originals. They did manage to make them more organic
with live instrument production, and some re-recorded vocals.
Don't be fooled, they still have the vocals to carry the songs after 20
years. Expect to hear "I'll Make Love to You," as well as "On Bended
Knee," "End of the Road," and the aforementioned "Motownphilly." And that is
just part of their two-disc offering.
Loaded with thirteen new tracks, there is something on this album for
die-hard fans as well as those discovering them after 20 years, if that's
possible. Leading off is single "More Than You'll Ever Know." This airy
single features the voice of R&B legend Charlie Wilson (The Gap Band).
Vocally the song works perfectly, with Wilson's distinct vocals blending
fluently with those of the group. They can still harmonize like no other
group out today.
Next, and probably the most intriguing, is the single "One Up for Love."
Those expecting signature Boyz II Men will not find it in this song. Backed
by a live band, and futuristic synthesizers is a contemporary rock song
about peace, unity and well... love. Throw one up for love/throw one up
for love repeats the chorus. It's bound to catch the ear of anyone who
knows the Boyz II Men style, but will surely not disappoint. Other notable
tracks include "Put Some Music On," and "Refuse to Be the Reason."
After years of soothing us with the syrupy sweet ballads, Boyz II Men are
still as strong as ever. Incase you were wondering what R&B sounded like 20
years ago or just want to reminisce and rediscover some great music, this
album is definitely worth a listen. If the next 20 years are anything like
the last, Boyz II Men will continue to give their fans what they are used to
hearing. Classic, timeless R&B music. (11/11)
Copyright © 2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: November 2, 2011.
Boyz II Men-Throwback
Boyz II Men defined the decade of the 90's with their sinless R&B harmonies
and pure pop appeal. With hits such as "On Bended Knee,"
"End of the Road" and "I'll
Make Love to You," Boyz II Men will go down in history has
one of the greatest vocal groups of all time. They cemented their place in
music history with the now classic duet, "One Sweet Day," with songstress
Mariah Carey, which topped the charts for a record 16 weeks.
and the Backstreet Boys. The turn of the century also saw the departure of
Michael McCrary, the group's harmonic anchorman. With commercial success
seemingly in the past along with two label departures, the group now returns
with arguably one of their best sets since 1997's Evolution.
With the conclusion of that era seemed to mean the demise of the
Philadelphia quartet. No longer were they the chart topping, multi-platinum
sensations they once were, taking a back seat to pop groups, N
consists of reinvented soul classics, with the Boyz' signature lush
harmonies. Favorites such as Michael Jackson's "Human Nature," Al Green's
"Let's Stay Together" and The Stylistics "You Make Me Feel Brand New" never
sounded so, well brand new. Very little is lost in their translation of
these timeless classics. Their vocal prowess is undeniable. Individually,
Shawn, Nathan and Wanya shine. Their voices are distinct yet blend
seamlessly making this a mature and easy listen.
They may never
return to the pinnacle of the pop world, where they once resided.
Nevertheless, their ability to harmonize and mesmerize was not lost.
Throwback is an example of their growth and transition into the adult
arena. Boyz II Men, unlike many of their pop counterparts have lived the
days as Boyz and now return as Men.
Copyright © 2004 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: December 29, 2004.