Friday, March 19, 2010

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

Most popular music fans my age or a bit older know of Brandy, even if they know of her for different reasons than others. Those who were tuned into the R&B scene in the mid '90s may know of her from her Grammy-nominated debut with her 1994 self-titled album, which scored nominations in 1996 for the album's first two singles and one for Best New Artist; they would be the first three of fourteen Grammy nods to date. Others may know her from the long-running UPN television series, Moesha, in which Brandy starred from 1996 to 2001, or perhaps for her more controversial subsequent television appearance in which she essentially gave birth to her daughter on camera in 2002 for an MTV reality series.

Still others (myself partially included) know her from her star turn in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella with Whitney Houston and Bernadette Peters, one of the first (and still best) features to come out of the then-recently revived ABC Sunday night special The Wonderful World of Disney. And likely a much smaller number know of Brandy from her periodically brilliant studio albums Full Moon (2002) and/or Afrodisiac (2004), although neither of them could truly be considered blockbusters.

I remember my first introduction to Brandy with the eerie clarity that typically accompanies only my most influential or obsessed-upon memories of my childhood and early adolescent life: it was thanks to a neighbor and friend who happened to own the 1996 Grammy Nominees cd* (those were the days; I can still picture the back cover of the case), which featured such inescapable smash hits of the day like Seal's "Kiss From a Rose," Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know," TLC's "Waterfalls," and "One Sweet Day" from Mariah Carey and Boys II Men, among others. But near the end was Brandy's second single (and first big hit) "Baby," a mid-tempo hip hop/R&B groove-fest that totally latched onto my twelve-year-old white boy mind and has yet to let go nearly fifteen years later. And since I realized I have not yet brought up this fine artist on the blog to this date, I think nothing would be more suitable as the Song for the Day on this TGI Friday.

(Atlantic Records, 1994)

Trivia: Of Brandy's fourteen career Grammy nominations, only one has resulted in victory: her smash hit duet with fellow R&B artist Monica, "The Boy Is Mine," which spent a record-breaking thirteen weeks atop the Hot 100, won the 1999 Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

*How sad is it that my spellcheck did not even recognize "cd?"

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