FLASHBACK: What ever happened to…? – ’90s R&B One Hit Wonders Special

Wendy Moten

Once again I can’t resist the urge to re-visit forgotten hits and underrated would-be stars from the last decent era of mainstream music. Now some of you might notice that not all of these are technically one hit wonders and had other singles to their name. I decided not to be too pedantic for once and just focus on the songs by which they are best remembered. Happy reminiscing.

Alfonzo Hunter ‘Just the Way’- nuff said. If this isn’t a bona fide ’90s one-hit R&B wonder I don’t know what is. I really thought bigger things would have happened for Mr Hunter; he had a good voice after all. But if you’re going to be remembered for just one song heck let it be this one featuring green-eyed bandit Erick Sermon. The bass line is pure murder, yikes!

You know, you wouldn’t think it but back in the day being tipped ‘as the next Whitney Houston‘ didn’t do favours for a girl’s career. It’s a bit like being one of Prince‘s protegées-it’s not the fast track to success one would expect. Deborah Cox was one of those heralded as the next Ms H and although she’s done quite well still remains fairly under-exposed. Wendy Moten however truly experienced what a poisoned chalice that this prediction could be. ‘Come On In Out of the Rain’ conjures up memories of 1993 when I was 11/12 and taping hits off the radio. Moten was a vocal powerhouse at only 18 and it’s a damn shame she never managed to re-create the success of her torchlight breakthrough ballad. Seriously underrated talent.

Mo-Ken-Stef ‘He’s Mine’ – again a band that brings new meaning to the one-hit phenomenon. I didn’t so much as hear another song from them. Doesn’t stop it being an anthem for the ladies, n’est pas? I always preferred the remix; sorry kids, I’m posting that promo instead of the original, so there!

Yvette Michelle was a bit of a female Keith Sweat. Not much vocal beauty there but goodness ‘Everynight, Everyday’ was a flippin’ great song thanks mostly to Funkmaster Flex’ disgusting bassline. I know, I know ‘I’m not Feelin’ You’ starring Chuck D in the video did pretty well too but ‘Everynight…’ is the killer track. Takes me back to Jazzie B‘s show on Kiss FM, Monday nights. Sweet.

Some soulful European Hip-Hop now with Swedish band Blacknuss featuring the Scandinavian heir-apparent to Eric Benet, Stephen Simmons (and if anyone has any info on what happened to him, I’d really like to know!). Another monster underground tune ‘Dinah’ sampling Patrice Rushen. A special prize for all those who actually remember this one as they’re not many of us out there it seems, on these shores at least. Again they did make other tunes but this was their most inspired IMHO. I still play this one with gusto and it hits the spot every time…amusing vid too.

Ahhh, 1995. A great year for R&B music. Back in the day when every other video featured a rooftop party, my best friend at the time and I would sing Monifah‘s ‘I Miss You’ feat Heavy D ad nauseum. Forget ‘Touch It’ and it’s air of desperation, this was the real classic. Apologies for video quality but it was the best I could find…

Very obscure one here so wouldn’t blame anyone for scratching their heads at a loss, trying to recollect. Elusion were two sets of sexy twins knocking around in the late 1990s. High concept band (read: gimmicky); not the greatest voices in the world. Like quite a few girl groups at the time, they tried to replicate the TLC sound but were unable to duplicate the success. ‘Reality’ is a gorgeous mid-tempo number though.

This next one needs no introduction. Again, from the great summer of 1995 where we had close to two months of uninterrupted sunshine, maybe more. Skee-Lo was an antidote to all that male posturing common to Hip-Hop and his self-deprecation elevated an already contagious tune to the next level. In an era when the compilation CD/Tape was king, ‘I Wish’ found its way on to quite a few. Skee-Lo’s follow up ‘Top of the Stairs’ featuring another Patrice Rushen sample ‘Remind Me’ (incidentally the same one on the aforementioned MoKenStef remix) was also a very good tune but unfortunately rather overlooked. That’s the problem sometimes when your debut single is such a funky rally call for the marginalised.

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