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 means up into the current.

Pop-chart historical past is stuffed with bizarre little twists. Some are lovely. Some are irritating. One of many extra irritating twists is what occurred with Chuck Berry, an all-time titan who solid an enormous shadow over the pop panorama. With out Chuck Berry, loads of the songs which have appeared on this column merely couldn’t exist. However Chuck Berry himself has solely been on this column as soon as. In 1972, years after he’d ceased to be a related determine in pop, Berry made it to #1 with a horrible novelty track about his dick. “My Ding-A-Ling” isn’t the worst #1 hit in Sizzling 100 historical past, but it surely’s up there.

“My Ding-A-Ling” isn’t a nasty track as a result of it’s all about Chuck Berry’s schlong; it’s a nasty track as a result of it’s a nasty track. Dick jokes don’t flip track into a nasty one. Once they’re finished proper, dick jokes will be genuinely enjoyable. There’s a spot for dick jokes in pop music. Think about the case of Subsequent, an in any other case unremarkable R&B trio who conquered the Sizzling 100 with a frisky, foolish, energetic little jam that by no means pretends to be something aside from a report a couple of boner.

“Folks ask me on a regular basis how I really feel about this report a couple of boner.” That’s Subsequent lead singer Robert “RL” Huggar speaking to Genius about “Too Shut,” Subsequent’s sole chart-topping hit. Seems he feels fairly good about this report a couple of boner: “I take a whole lot of pleasure in with the ability to cleverly say one thing that fooled the world and had each radio station enjoying it earlier than they realized what it was speaking about. Writing it that means was intentional.”

I don’t understand how many individuals have been fooled by “Too Shut.” I in all probability heard the track a few times, not likely paying consideration, earlier than it lastly occurred to me what “you’re making it onerous for me” meant. By the point “Too Shut” reached #1, everybody in my highschool knew it because the boner track. “Too Shut” is sly in its execution, however its lyrics don’t precisely put up a smokescreen. The road was reduce from the radio model, however on the “Too Shut” intro, RL simply straight-up says, “I ponder if she may inform I’m onerous proper now.” That’s not a double entendre. It’s barely a single entendre. That stated, RL’s perspective is gorgeous. In the event you write a track a couple of boner — a good track a couple of boner — and that track reaches #1, you’re allowed to be happy with your achievement. I might be.

All three members of Subsequent come from Minneapolis. (When RL was born, the #1 track in America was Daryl Corridor and John Oates’ “Wealthy Woman.”) RL was about 15 when a choir director launched him to the brothers Raphael and Terry Brown, identified respectively as Tweety and T-Low. The brothers already had an R&B group going, and when different singers didn’t work out, RL grew to become their new chief. At first, the group had the horrible title Straight4ward. (Subsequent can also be a nasty title, but it surely’s higher than that.) At first, the group was mentored by T-Low’s godmother Ann Nesby, one of many lead singers for the Minneapolis group Sounds Of Blackness. (Sounds Of Blackness’ solely charting single, 1994’s “I Imagine,” peaked at #99.)

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Straight4ward recorded some demos at Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ Flyte Tyme studio. In the future, the members of Straight4ward acknowledged KayGee, the DJ and producer for the good New Jersey rap group Naughty By Nature, in a mall. (Naughty By Nature’s highest-charting single, 1991’s “OPP,” peaked at #6. It’s a 9.) They gave KayGee their demo, and he was impressed. On the time, KayGee had his personal Arista imprint known as Divine Mill, and he’d signed R&B acts like Zhané and Koffee Brown. KayGee added Straight4ward to his roster, modified their title to Subsequent, and introduced them to stick with him in New Jersey.

KayGee and the younger keyboardist Darren Lighty produced virtually all of Subsequent’s 1997 debut album Rated Subsequent. It’s not a very attention-grabbing report. There have been a lot of male R&B teams placing out information within the mid-’90s, and Rated Subsequent simply may’ve blended in with the remainder of them. “Butta Love,” the album’s first single, is a generic romantic ballad that by no means left any impression on me, but it surely was a fairly large hit, reaching #4 on the Billboard R&B chart and #16 on the Sizzling 100. “Butta Love” put Subsequent in place. “Too Shut,” their second single, exploded.

KayGee and D. Lighty constructed the “Too Shut” beat from a groove that might’ve been acquainted to anybody who’d been listening to rap for lengthy sufficient. In 1979, a few months after the Sugarhill Gang launched “Rapper’s Delight,” the Harlem rapper Kurtis Blow got here out together with his debut single “Christmas Rappin’,” a splendidly foolish observe about taking Santa Claus, “a red-suited dude with a pleasant perspective,” to a celebration. When Santa hits the dancefloor, he leaves an impression: “Each younger woman tried to rock his world, however he boogie oogie oogied until he needed to go.”

“Christmas Rappin’” got here out within the period when rap information nonetheless used studio musicians, earlier than anybody had even thought to make use of sampled loops or drum-machine beats. Blow launched the observe on Mercury, and it’s in all probability the primary rap single ever to come back out on a serious label. “Christmas Rappin’” didn’t make the Sizzling 100, but it surely led to a protracted profession for Kurtis Blow, who may’ve been the largest rapper on this planet for a few years. (Blow’s highest-charting single, 1984’s “Basketball,” peaked at #71.) KayGee and D. Lighty didn’t pattern the groove from “Christmas Rappin’”; they replayed it within the studio. Kurtis Blow and all of his co-writers received writing credit on “Too Shut.”

Within the context of “Too Shut,” that slowed-down “Christmas Rappin’” groove sounds beautiful — the bouncy bassline, the itchy drums, the funky little guitar interjections. There’s some old-school strut to the observe, but it surely’s additionally glossy and streamlined. In Fred Bronson’s Billboard E book Of No 1 Hits, KayGee explains why he used that observe: “I heard that track on a regular basis rising up. It introduced brightness to the room or the automobile or wherever, and I felt if we put the proper lyrics on high of that beat, we may carry that very same magic again within the ’90s.”

The proper lyrics, it turned out, have been punchlines about boners. Whereas they have been staying with KayGee in New Jersey, the members of Subsequent would exit to a neighborhood membership known as the Peppermint Lounge. (This isn’t the New York Peppermint Lounge, the place former Quantity Ones artists Joey Dee And The Starliters have been as soon as the home band. It’s the Peppermint Lounge in Orange. Totally different time, totally different place, though individuals in all probability additionally received boners whereas doing the Peppermint Twist.) On the membership, some women had advised the singers that they’d generally — I’m quoting RL right here — “dance up on guys to see what the blokes have been working with.” Tweety has given his personal model of the story to Genius, and it’s adequate that I’m simply going to cite it at size right here:

RL and I are on the telephone with the females, and we have been asking them, “Yo, so have you ever ever felt a man get aroused on the dance flooring whenever you’re dancing?” They usually have been like, “Yeah.” And we have been like, “No. How does that really feel?” They usually have been like, “We do it on goal.” And we didn’t anticipate that reply. We have been like, “What?” They usually have been like, “Yeah, we do it on goal.” So then we have been like, “Is {that a} deal breaker?” They have been like, “Yeah, if it ain’t…”

RL and Tweety wrote the “Too Shut” lyrics after they heard KayGee and D. Lighty’s beat. The hook got here first: “Child, after we’re grindin’, I get so excited/ Ooh how I prefer it, I strive however I can’t battle it.” From there, all the pieces got here collectively in a couple of minutes. All the track’s lyrics come again to the boner. The dancefloor-erection state of affairs is a reasonably frequent one, and it in all probability wasn’t too, um, onerous to give you a few of these traces: “Now woman, I do know you felt it/ However boo, I can’t assist it.” Tweety had the thought for a call-and-response with a feminine singer, and Vernell “Vee” Gross sales, the feminine half of the Divine Mill R&B duo Koffee Brown, sang the traces about dancing form of shut and feeling a poke coming by on you. (Koffee Brown’s highest-charting single, 2001’s “After Get together,” peaked at #44.)

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That one prolonged boner joke — pun supposed — actually shouldn’t be sufficient to maintain a complete track, however it’s. Possibly “Too Shut” works due to that bubbly, environment friendly groove. Possibly it really works due to the way in which that singsong melody sticks in your head. Possibly it’s the simplicity. There’s not a whole lot of showy melisma or layered concord on “Too Shut.” The Subsequent singers have character — I all the time favored how RL sang that line about wanting you so unhealthy, sexual-lee — however they by no means strive something too wealthy or subtle on the track. Even the bridge is only a back-and-forth chant about loving whenever you shake it like that. The entire thing simply has a pleasant feeling to it. It’s sexy however not tawdry, foolish however not infantile. You’ll be able to inform that these singers know that they’re getting away with one thing, at the same time as they let your complete world in on the joke. (I can attest that DJs at high-school dances have been not scared to play “Too Shut.”)

“Too Shut” isn’t precisely a novelty track, but it surely’s additionally not likely a constructing block for a sustainable profession. Nonetheless, Subsequent saved making hits for a short time. They adopted “Too Shut” with the sunny ballad “I Nonetheless Love You,” and that one peaked at #14. Rated Subsequent went double platinum. In 1999, RL and the Canadian singer Deborah Cox launched the boring breakup ballad “We Can’t Be Buddies,” which peaked at #8. (It’s a 3.)

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In 2000, Subsequent launched the sophomore album Welcome II Nextasy — glorious title — they usually made it to #7 with the playful, disco-flavored lead single “Wifey.” (It’s a 7.) The album stalled out at gold, and RL launched the solo album RL: Ements — horrible title — in 2002. RL’s solo album bricked, and none of its singles made the Sizzling 100.

Ultimately, Subsequent made their means over to J Information, the label that Clive Davis launched after he received fired from Arista. In 2002, shortly after guesting on Jaheim’s #28 hit “Something,” Subsequent launched their album The Subsequent Episode. In the event you’re holding rating at dwelling, that’s three albums and three titles with puns on the phrase “subsequent.” The Subsequent Episode flopped, and Subsequent broke up earlier than lengthy. They’ve since reunited, they usually nonetheless play reveals on the R&B-nostalgia circuit. They’re nonetheless best-known for a report a couple of boner, but it surely’s a good report a couple of boner. They need to be happy with that. That’s a complete lot greater than most of us can declare.

GRADE: 8/10

BONUS BEATS: Within the UK, Subsequent’s “Too Shut” solely made it to #24. In 2001, nevertheless, the UK boy band Blue launched a totally pointless cowl of “Too Shut,” and it grew to become a #1 hit over there. Right here’s the video for the Blue model:

BONUS BONUS BEATS: In 2015, a man named Nicholas “Downgoes” Fraser recorded a 10-second Vine of himself asking why the fuck you’re mendacity, doing it in a needling singsong to the tune of “Too Shut.” That Vine went mega-viral, and Fraser’s face immediately grew to become a meme, a transparent sign that someone was mendacity about one thing. Vine not exists, however right here’s that video, which stays extraordinarily humorous for causes that I can not clarify:

Ultimately, Fraser turned “Why You All the time Mendacity” right into a full track. Right here’s the video:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Right here’s Omarion’s video for his 2017 single “BDY On Me,” which interpolates the melody from the “Too Shut” hook:

(Omarion’s highest-charting single is the 2006 Timbaland collab “Ice Field,” which peaked at #12. As a visitor, Omarion made it to #4 on Bow Wow’s 2005 single “Let Me Maintain You.” That’s a 4. As a member of B2K, Omarion will finally seem on this column.)

THE NUMBER TWOS: Shania Twain’s dizzy bubblecountry love track “You’re Nonetheless The One” peaked at #2 behind “Too Shut.” It’s an 8.

THE ASTERISK: Natalie Imbruglia’s primo adult-contempo jam “Torn,” a canopy of a track initially recorded by the LA band Ednaswap, reached the highest of Billboard’s Radio Songs chart whereas “Too Shut” was at #1 on the Sizzling 100. “Torn” remained atop the Radio Songs chart for 11 weeks. On the finish of 1998, Billboard lastly modified its guidelines, permitting songs onto the Sizzling 100 even when they’d by no means been launched as industrial singles. By that time, “Torn” nonetheless had sufficient juice to succeed in #42. If Billboard had modified these guidelines a couple of months earlier, “Torn” would’ve in all probability made it to #1. It’s an 8.

The Quantity Ones: Twenty Chart-Topping Hits That Reveal The Historical past Of Pop Music is out 11/15 through Hachette Books. You’ll be able to pre-order it right here.