July 7, 2022

In The Quantity Ones, I’m reviewing each single #1 single within the historical past of the Billboard Sizzling 100, beginning with the chart’s starting, in 1958, and dealing my approach up into the current.

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Of their time, Speaking Heads have been a real pop-music marvel — weirdo outsiders who saved toying with their sound and who saved rising artistically whereas discovering a large viewers. However Speaking Heads by no means actually threatened to prime the pop charts. The band solely ever made the highest 10 as soon as. (1983’s “Burning Down The Home” peaked at #9. It’s a 9.) Years after the band broke up, although, two Speaking Heads acquired writing credit on a large generational smash — a type of stunning little moments when sampling labored out swimmingly for everybody concerned.

In 1981, throughout the break between Stay In Gentle and Talking In Tongues, all of the totally different Speaking Heads went off to work on different initiatives. David Byrne made My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts with Brian Eno. Jerry Harrison recorded his solo album The Pink And The Black. And Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, Speaking Heads’ married-couple rhythm part, went off to Compass Level, the Bahamian recording studio that Island Data boss Chris Blackwell had based, and acquired their very own quirky little funk band going.

Tom Tom Membership — named after a neighborhood disco, not after two-year-old me — was an opportunity for Frantz and Weymouth to goof round and get playful with out having to indulge David Byrne’s ever-expanding ambitions. Essentially the most enduring tune from Tom Tom Membership’s self-titled 1981 album is “Genius Of Love,” a twinkly and off-kilter dance monitor that Frantz and Weymouth wrote with the previous King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, who’d already joined the touring Speaking Heads band, and with Steven Stanley, the Jamaican-born keyboardist who was Compass Level’s in-house producer. (Adrian Belew’s highest-charting single as a solo artist, 1989’s “Oh Daddy,” peaked at #58.)

Tina Weymouth really didn’t play bass on “Genius Of Love,” although she did write the bassline; her hand was cramping up badly within the studio that day. Weymouth did, nevertheless, sing lead on the tune, along with her sisters Lani and Laura and her brother Loric singing backup. The tune is a dazed, foolish love letter to Black music, with lyrical shoutouts to Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Kurtis Blow, James Brown, and Bohannon, amongst others. Perhaps due to that — or perhaps simply due to the unusual enchantment of its naive, twinkling groove — “Genius Of Love” discovered a Black viewers that by no means actually gravitated to Speaking Heads. “Genius Of Love” turned a #1 membership hit and went to #2 on the Billboard R&B charts. It additionally crossed over to the Sizzling 100, the place it peaked at #31 — increased than all however three Speaking Heads singles.

“Genius Of Love” occurred to come back alongside similtaneously sample-heavy rap music was simply beginning to change into a industrial proposition. The primary rap group to pattern “Genius Of Love” was Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, the duo that included future Uptown Data founder Andre Harrell. Jeckyll & Hyde used the “Genius Of Love” groove on their single “Genius Of Rap” in 1981, earlier than the Tom Tom Membership monitor even reached its Sizzling 100 peak. A 12 months later, Grandmaster Flash & The Livid 5, the most important rap group of their period, used that very same “Genius Of Love” groove on their very own single “It’s Nasty (Genius Of Love).” These early singles concerned studio bands re-playing “Genius Of Love,” not sampling the beat instantly from the document. Within the years that adopted, “Genius Of Love” remained a part of the rap language.

Tom Tom Membership saved recording occasional albums after that first one, and none of them actually caught on. However “Genius Of Love” lingered. That pattern was particularly in style in West Coast rap within the early ’90s. Ice Dice, 2nd II None, Above The Legislation, Mellow Man Ace, and former Quantity Ones artist Coolio all rocked over the “Genius Of Love” beat or referenced its dreamy, childlike lyrics within the early ’90s. Then, in 1995, the queen of the Sizzling 100 was beginning to push her music extra within the path of rap and R&B, and it took the “Genius Of Love” beat to totally cross her over to the viewers that she wished.

By 1995, no person might inform Mariah Carey shit. At that time, 5 years into her profession, she’d already landed at #1 eight instances, and she or he’d co-written seven of these chart-toppers. With Mariah’s 1993 album Music Field, her husband and label boss Tommy Mottola actively pushed her within the path of centrist, adult-contempo pop ballads. Mariah had flirted with home music on 1991’s Feelings, and it hadn’t been fairly the blockbuster that Mottola wished, so he clamped down on her playful facet. Music Field did even higher than anybody might’ve anticipated, going diamond and sending two extra singles to #1.

In 1994, Carey launched the vacation album Merry Christmas, which went triple platinum in its first 12 months. (It’s now octuple platinum, and considered one of its songs will seem on this column a lengthy time from now.) That very same 12 months, she additionally teamed up with Luther Vandross to cowl Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s 1981 chart-topper “Countless Love,” and the Vandross/Carey model of the tune peaked at #2. (It’s a 5.) Level is: Mariah Carey was a industrial juggernaut, and she or he’d earned herself some inventive freedom — or, no less than, she thought she had.

Regardless of all of the information she was promoting within the mid-’90s, Mariah Carey nonetheless needed to combat for her concepts. Within the time that she spent recording her 1995 album Daydream, as an example, Mariah had the concept to blow off steam by recording a shits-and-giggles grunge-pop album, in order that’s what she did. However sure unnamed individuals at Carey’s label thought {that a} document like that will harm her picture, so she wasn’t allowed to sing lead on the album that got here out underneath the title Somebody’s Ugly Daughter. As a substitute, Carey’s pal Clarissa Dane sang lead, with an uncredited Mariah singing backup and co-writing each tune. The album got here out underneath the band title Chick, and it promptly disappeared utterly. No person even knew that Chick was a Mariah Carey mission till she wrote about it in her 2020 memoir.

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Mariah confronted related pushback when she tried to push her personal music nearer to the rap and R&B that she liked. She hated being seen as a sq. pop diva, and she or he wished love from Black listeners. Years later, Carey’s A&R rep Cory Rooney instructed Billboard, “[Mariah] as soon as instructed me although she was grateful for her success, she would commerce in all of her document gross sales to get the respect that Mary J. Blige acquired. She stated, ‘Mary doesn’t must promote 28 million information to be revered. Individuals respect Mary, and I simply need to be revered like her.’” (Mary J. Blige will ultimately seem on this column.)

That’s what Carey was going for when she labored with Mary J. Blige’s What’s The 411? collaborator Dave “Jam” Corridor on her 1993 smash “Dreamlover.” Mariah labored with Corridor once more two years later when she had one other concept for a bubbly, light-weight, clubby R&B monitor. She’d already had a fundamental melody concept for the tune that will change into “Fantasy” when she heard Tom Tom Membership’s “Genius Of Love” on the radio. In Fred Bronson’s Billboard Ebook Of Number one Hits, Mariah says that listening to the tune “jogged my memory of rising up and listening to the radio.”

Mariah took “Genius Of Love” to Dave Corridor, and he made it right into a beat. Working with Mariah within the studio, Corridor would play the beat, and Mariah would freestyle melody concepts for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Inside a few days, that they had a whole tune. Mariah’s individuals acquired in contact with Tom Tom Membership to clear the pattern. Within the Bronson guide, Mariah says that Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth “have been actually into it.” Is smart to me. If somebody instructed me that they wished to park a dumptruck full of money on my entrance garden, I wouldn’t object. (I don’t even have a entrance garden, so we would wish to have a dialog about logistics, however I’d be down.)

In its last kind, “Fantasy” twinkles and glistens. Mariah sings the tune in an ethereal, flutter, as soon as once more layering her mind-bending leads over a tender mattress of her personal multi-tracked backing vocals. It’s a tune a couple of crush, about imagining your self with another person whereas remaining completely conscious that nothing’s going to occur. I assume meaning it’s a tune about having fun with your personal dream-life, utilizing it as an escape from no matter’s occurring in actuality. On and on and on, it’s so deep in her daydreams, nevertheless it’s only a candy, candy fantasy, child.

I really like Mariah’s vocal on “Fantasy,” the way in which she hammers the hell out of that opening line: “Oh, once you stroll by each night time, speaking candy and looking out superb, I get kinda hectic in-facet!” Her melody syncs up fantastically with the pattern, and it offers the tune a form of unreal playfulness. When she really sings somewhat little bit of “Genius Of Love” on the bridge — “I’m in heaven with my boyfriend, my beautiful boyfriend” — Mariah feels like she’s singing together with the radio, or with a scrap of lyric that’s caught in her head and clicks in with no matter she’s feeling.

In fact, the ultimate type of “Fantasy” wasn’t actually the ultimate kind. The album model of “Fantasy” — the one which technically topped the Sizzling 100 — isn’t the definitive tackle the tune. That model of “Fantasy” is a beautiful, incandescent Mariah Carey jam, nevertheless it’s not in the end that totally different from one thing like “Dreamlover.” It took a remix to unlock what “Fantasy” may very well be and to level a approach ahead for Mariah Carey, and likewise for the remainder of pop music usually.

On the time, practically each huge pop single acquired no less than a few remixes. Mariah Carey had embraced the concept of the remix, working with home grasp David Morales to interrupt down her songs and to rebuild them in utterly new kinds, even re-recording her vocals when the monitor known as for it. Tommy Mottola knew that “Fantasy” wanted a remix, and each Mariah and her A&R rep Cory Rooney thought the gig ought to go to Sean “Puffy” Combs, the previous Uptown Data vp who, as soon as fired from Uptown, began Dangerous Boy Data, his personal rap and R&B empire. (As lead artist, Puffy will ultimately seem on this column.) Earlier in 1995, Puffy’s protege Biggie Smalls, one other future Quantity Ones artist, had reached #2 with “One Extra Probability/Keep With Me,” a lush and R&B-flavored remix of a monitor that had appeared on Biggie’s traditional debut Prepared To Die. (It’s a 9.)

Puffy was about as in-demand as a remixer may very well be, however Tommy Mottola didn’t need something to do with him. Rooney tells Billboard that Mottola instructed him, “We want somebody extra musically inclined” when Rooney instructed Puffy. Mariah herself goes even additional. In her memoir, Mariah tells a narrative about Mottola getting offended and jealous when she talked about Puffy’s brilliance at a cocktail party. Mariah claims that Mottola instructed her, “Puffy might be shining my sneakers in two years.” She writes that Mottola didn’t perceive rap music and that he felt threatened by it, however Mariah nonetheless acquired her Puff Daddy remix.

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Puff himself was doubtful. In that Billboard piece, Cory Rooney says that Puffy initially turned down the chance: “Completely not, she’s wack. I’m on somewhat streak proper now… I don’t want no wack juice on me.” Rooney says that Puffy modified his thoughts when he discovered what number of information Mariah Carey offered, and he negotiated a $60,000 payment for a remix. Puff was adamant that Dave Corridor had sampled the mistaken components of “Genius Of Love,” so he switched it up, slowing the monitor down and specializing in the bassline. Within the fingers of Puffy and his collaborators, “Fantasy” was tougher and extra minimal, and Mariah’s voice, pitched down simply barely, nonetheless match the monitor fantastically. Puffy murmured his trademark ad-libs on the remix, riffing on one other bit from “Genius Of Love”: “Whatcha gonna do once you get out of jail? I’m gonna make a remix.”

The true X-factor for the Dangerous Boy remix of “Fantasy” was the addition of Ol’ Soiled Bastard, the Wu-Tang Clan member and genuinely unhinged folk-hero lunatic. The Wu-Tang Clan, the chaotically good mind-warrior Staten Island crew, had ripped a gap via the middle of the rap universe with their 1993 debut album. Amidst all of the group’s technical wizards, Soiled stood out as a guttural, unpredictable livewire. Individuals liked Ol’ Soiled Bastard. I liked Ol’ Soiled Bastard. He was the straw that stirred the drink, and his chaos-agent persona was simply as highly effective as his music. The tales about Soiled — just like the time that he took a limo and an MTV Information digicam crew to money his welfare examine — have been prompt oral-tradition legends.

Many of the Wu-Tang members locked down solo offers with totally different labels, and Soiled ended up on Elektra. He launched his platinum debut Return to the 36 Chambers: The Soiled Model early in 1995, and he acquired to #54 along with his debut single “Brooklyn Zoo.” (You’d assume that “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” was the massive hit from that album, however no, that one peaked at #62.) Mariah Carey liked ODB, and she or he’s the one who particularly requested Soiled for the “Fantasy” remix. In her memoir, Mariah describes ODB’s complete enchantment: “ODB’s vitality was one thing everybody might relate to — he was your loving, fun-ass uncle who will get drunk in any respect the festivities, at Christmas dinner, the cookout, Thanksgiving.”

To listen to Cory Rooney inform it, Ol’ Soiled Bastard was a nightmare collaborator. After accepting $15,000 to rap on the “Fantasy” remix, Soiled confirmed up on the studio at 10:30 at night time, spent an hour arguing with a girlfriend on the cellphone, after which demanded Newports and Moet, getting livid when the studio individuals couldn’t discover him what he wished that late at night time. The story of Soiled recording his “Fantasy” verse, as Rooney instructed Billboard, is so good that I’m going to must quote it at size:

He stated one line — “me and Mariah return like infants with pacifiers” — then paused, stated, “Yo, I have to take a break,” and went to sleep for 45 minutes. He awoke and was like, “Yo, let me hear what I did to date.” We performed his one line again, he sang one other line or two, after which slept for an additional hour. He would provide you with a line, punch that in, fall asleep. He went to sleep 3 totally different instances in the course of making an attempt to get that one verse performed.

As soon as the verse was lastly completed, somebody from the studio known as Mariah and performed her the remix over the cellphone, and she or he might barely include her glee. Tommy Mottola was much less impressed. In her guide, Mariah quotes him: “The fuck is that? I can do this. Get the fuck outta right here with that.” That is a type of true generational-schism moments in pop historical past. To me and nearly everybody I knew, that remix — particularly Soiled on that remix — was one of the best factor on this planet. The “infants with pacifiers” line? The ragged shoutouts to Sacramento and Japan? The echo throughout Soiled’s voice? I find it irresistible. I find it irresistible all. When that remix would come on at events, it was all the time one of the best second of the night time.

The distinction between Ol’ Soiled Bastard’s grizzled, garbled roar-bark and Mariah’s flirty silkiness proved massively influential; I’d argue that it’s the entire foundation for the Ja Rule tracks that may ultimately seem on this column. However you couldn’t manufacture the actual magic of the “Fantasy” remix. It labored finest when it was new and disorienting, when it made no sense in any respect. The “Fantasy” remix didn’t seem on Mariah’s Daydream album, however a totally different “Fantasy” remix, David Morales’ home transforming “Daydream Interlude (Fantasy Candy Dub Combine),” is on there. Afterward, although, Mariah herself estimated that the Dangerous Boy remix was answerable for no less than half the gross sales of “Fantasy” — a complete lot, contemplating that the one ultimately went quintuple platinum. Perhaps Puffy’s remix simply took everybody abruptly. In any case, “Fantasy” adopted Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone” because the second single to debut atop the Sizzling 100.

I’m somewhat flummoxed on the way to fee “Fantasy,” because the model that went to #1 was the one model, not the Dangerous Boy remix. However the remix helped drive the one, and it’s the definitive model of the tune. On the finish of this column, the score you see would be the one for the Dangerous Boy remix. If you wish to consider the unique “Fantasy” as the actual one, simply go forward and subtract one level from the entire.

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Mariah Carey wasn’t simply taking inventive management along with her remixes. She wished to take over each facet of her personal presentation. Mariah had by no means been completely completely happy along with her music movies, so “Fantasy” was the primary video that she ever directed herself. She shot the clip at Playland, somewhat rinky-dink amusement park in Westchester County, New York. (It’s the identical place the place they shot the child wishing to be huge in Large, and it’s nonetheless open at the moment.) The clip is straightforward and enjoyable and carefree — Mariah singing on a rollercoaster, dancers dancing, little children being cute, an inexplicable evil-clown giggle opening the entire thing.

The video for the remix is only a chopped-up model of the unique, with pictures of Ol’ Soiled Bastard rapping on the Playland boardwalk, with the clown tied up behind him. As soon as once more, Soiled was apparently a nightmare on the shoot. Cory Rooney claims he demanded to be taken to the mall and that he left with a few designer suitcases filled with garments, and that he didn’t then put on these garments within the video. In her guide, Mariah writes that Soiled had one specific demand: “I need a wig, like considered one of them motherfuckers from the ’60s. Like Al Inexperienced. I’m this era’s Al Inexperienced.” Soiled acquired his wig, and he wore it within the video. He appeared excellent.

“Fantasy” and its remix did what Mariah Carey wished them to do. Mariah already had loads of R&B-radio hits, however she actually received individuals’s hearts with “Fantasy.” She acquired to really feel that Mary J. Blige respect. Within the years that adopted, Mariah Carey would flip extra definitively towards rap-flavored R&B. Given the place the charts have been going, that was the precise proper determination. We’ll see a lot extra of Mariah Carey on this column. We’ll see extra Sean “Puffy” Combs, too.

Sadly, we is not going to see Ol’ Soiled Bastard once more. Soiled went on to extra adventures. He rescued somewhat lady from a automotive wreck. He bum-rushed Shawn Colvin’s acceptance speech on the Grammys, taking exception to his “Fantasy” collaborator Puff Daddy beating the Wu-Tang Clan within the rap class. He scored his largest pop hit as lead artist when the 1999 Neptunes/Kelis collab “Acquired Your Cash” peaked at #33. He acquired shot in a theft, and he beat a cost after cops claimed that he’d shot at them. He acquired arrested for crack possession and, after escaping from his court-ordered rehab facility, went on the run, nonetheless popping as much as carry out at a Wu-Tang present in New York whereas on the lam. Finally, he spent three years in jail. In 2004, a 12 months after his launch from jail, Ol’ Soiled Bastard, whereas working in a New York recording studio, collapsed and died of a drug overdose. He was 35 years previous. Ol’ Soiled Bastard’s dying hit me tougher than virtually any lack of a musician that I can bear in mind. We received’t ever see anybody like him once more.

GRADE: 10/10

BONUS BEATS: Right here’s the scene from the 1998 movie Rush Hour the place Julia Hsu sings alongside to “Fantasy” instantly earlier than being kidnapped:

BONUS BONUS BEATS: Right here’s some murky video of Owen Pallett and Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste performing what appears to be an advert hoc “Fantasy” cowl at a 2006 present:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Right here’s the fuzzy dream-pop model of “Fantasy” that the Brooklyn band Blush launched in 2017:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: “Fantasy” reveals up repeatedly within the critically reviled 2021 blockbuster Free Man; it virtually drives the plot. Right here’s the catalyst second, the place Ryan Reynolds’ video-game NPC notices Jodie Comer singing alongside to “Fantasy”:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Final September, the Atlanta rapper Latto constructed her single “Large Vitality” round a “Genius Of Love” pattern and an interpolation of “Fantasy.” Right here’s the “Large Vitality” video:

“Large Vitality” has been climbing the Sizzling 100 for months. As I write this, it’s sitting simply outdoors the highest 10 at #11. It’ll undoubtedly break into the highest 10, and that may in all probability occur when the Billboard charts come out later at the moment. There’s a good likelihood that “Large Vitality” will ultimately seem on this column. If that does occur, it’ll in all probability be due to the remix that got here out per week in the past. On that “Large Vitality” remix, Mariah Carey herself joins Latto, hitting some whistle notes and singing a little bit of “Fantasy” over the slightly-altered “Fantasy” beat. (DJ Khaled, a future Quantity Ones artist, can be on there for some motive.) Right here’s the remix:

I’m certain Mariah Carey is completely happy to look in that remix, and a few of that in all probability has to do along with her place in Sizzling 100 historical past. Proper now, Carey has 19 #1 hits, which places her one behind all-time leaders the Beatles. If that “Large Vitality” remix does make it to #1 — and it completely might — then Mariah Carey will catch as much as the Beatles. Whether or not or not that occurs, it’s form of humorous how the polarities have been reversed. Mariah Carey as soon as acquired an enormous enhance from placing a rapper on her “Fantasy” remix. Now, she’s giving an enormous enhance to a distinct rapper who’s riffing on “Fantasy” the identical approach that “Fantasy” riffed on “Genius Of Love.”