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Flashback Friday: TLC’s “Waterfalls”

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Its 2017 and 90’s groundbreaking girl group TLC is back with a new album! Perfect Flashback Friday opportunity to take a look at perhaps their biggest hit “Waterfalls” off the multi award winning album CrazySexyCool. 

“Waterfalls” boldly spoke about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in a way few other artists had ever tried. In an interview with Fuse in 2013, they recalled how patients felt grateful to them over the years for demonstrating just how easy it was to contract the virus.

The group had previously made strides for women and safe sex practices with their sexually assertive lyrics while wearing condoms as eye patches. They were a bit rowdy, always honest about what they wanted, but above all in charge of themselves. CrazySexyCool might have been one of the first albums I ever bought. (I bought Jagged Little Pill around the same time, and I’m unsure of which came first)

The group continued to enjoy much success into the early 2000’s despite having to file for bankruptcy not long after the release of CrazySexyCool. The remaining members of TLC, T-Boz and Chilli, remained active if not always musically after the death of Lisa Lopes in 2002. I haven’t had a chance to listen to the new album yet but here’s their video about nostalgia with Snoop, “Way Back”.

On to the covers!

Bette Middler

Bette you didn’t see that one coming.

 

And that’s all I really care to include in this post. In case you were wondering, I am not all that impressed with the covers I did find. Postmodern Jukebox, whom I love, does a decent if really boring 60’s soul version. But the sheer number of them clearly demonstrates how long its likely to stick with us. So if you’re bored, enjoy their guest appearance in a Key & Peele sketch that’s very close to my heart.

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  • Abigail Nussbaum

    I’ve never been comfortable with the way “Waterfalls” has been classed as an HIV song. I take the point that at the time of its release it was one of the first majorly successful pop songs to address the issue, but as Midler herself says, that’s not what the song is about. It’s really more about exhorting people – and young people in particular – not to take unnecessary risks in their lives, with examples of crime, unprotected sex, and drug abuse.

    Though maybe my discomfort has more to do with the video, which is pretty judgemental of the HIV+ woman, implying that she’s “killed” multiple partners by discouraging them from using condoms (and maybe even that she’s knows she’s positive?). The song may be about the ease of contracting HIV, but the video treats her almost like a predator.

  • M Lister

    ““Waterfalls” boldly spoke about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in a way few other artists had ever tried.”

    I feel like, while this may have been bold, it must not have been too successful, because I never understood the song to be about that. Admittedly, I always found it slightly boring, so even though I’ve heard it many, many times, I didn’t pay that much attention, but maybe it should have been slightly bolder, if that was it’s goal.

    I’ve more admired Lisa Lopes (I think she was the only one who wore a condom over her eye, right? part of her “left eye” image?) for “accidentally” burning down Andre Rison’s mansion, apparently after learning he’d been cheating on her.

    • They would all wear condoms on their person, but Lisa was the one most associated with it I think.

      TLC was never this great sophisticated social justice group. Like Salt n Pepa, it was just women being assertive but even messy individuals out for a good time. Anything bolder would have been too preachy for them, which is why I never felt a connection to “Unpretty”.

  • NewishLawyer

    Another song pick from my high school days. I never knew it to be an HIV/AIDS song but I did not pay close attention to the lyrics and was pretty hard into alternative rock at that point. Possibly to make a statement against all the white suburban kids I went to high school with who were really into hip-hop. The image of comfortable suburban kids singing long with lyrics about life in the inner-cities never felt right to me. There was something off about it.

    However comfortable suburban kids listening to overwrought emotions is perfectly natural!!!! :)

  • NewishLawyer

    Very OT and possibly but something for our digital anthropologist. Is there any study into people who have adverse reactions to gifs and memes? I often hate them. I find that gifs have this strange quality of being both hypnotizing and stupefying at the same time.

    And this is where I become a cranky “cultural conservative” or “snob” but I think that there is a sinister aspect to the gif in that now a sign of whether something is good culture is that it can be turned into a meme or a gif. Anything that can’t be turned into that three second loop is dismissed as boring or whatnot.

    But I seem to be among the weird Xennial (new term I heard this week) who is not enamoured with how the Internet constantly and neverendingly promotes nostalgia and endless debates on our childhood shows and cartoons with strangely named facebook groups like “Wrestling will always be real to us.” How is it that men in their 30s and 40s can have intense discussions on the best WWF finishing moves? I don’t even think I liked WWF as a kid very much.

    But I’m also just a weirdo who can go into a bookstore and pick up a book called Walking in Berlin: A Flaneur in the Capital and buy it because it looked like an interesting read.

    What is it about the Internet that promotes extreme and total nostalgia for all things 80s and 90s? And why am I seemingly the only one who thinks this is bad? I generally have little patience for nostalgia because I see it as an enemy of progress frequently enough. A friend was sad about the closing of an “essential” store in their middle-class suburb. The store was an Army-Navy depot store that had been around for decades. As far as I can tell it was closing because the owners got old and wanted to retire. This is not a sign of a shut-down community in economic deprivation. The town is a commuter suburb of a major city. So I don’t think it is wrong to be sad about closing but it seems a stretch to say that the store was essential and must stay open in perpetuity. Yet the human condition seems to want everything trapped in amber. What people want trapped in amber is entirely different though based on their politics.

    • wjts

      But I’m also just a weirdo who can go into a bookstore and pick up a book called Walking in Berlin: A Flaneur in the Capital and buy it because it looked like an interesting read.

      What is it about the Internet that promotes extreme and total nostalgia for all things 80s and 90s? And why am I seemingly the only one who thinks this is bad? I generally have little patience for nostalgia because I see it as an enemy of progress frequently enough.

      Odd for an anti-nostalgia screed to praise a 1920 book that styles the author as a 19th century cultural figure.

      • NewishLawyer

        Fair point. I’m just curious about what seems to be the overly literal and descriptive nature of Internet headline writing and also facegroup naming. Plus the gif.

      • Drew

        “Why am I the only one sophisticated enough to not enjoy Harry Potter? Just this past Saturday I watched Sátántangó for the 18th time.”

    • Origami Isopod

      Thank you for once again making a thread all about you and how you’re Not Like The Other Millennials Because You Have Better Taste.

      • Thlayli

        The first two words were “Very OT”. You could have stopped reading there.

      • NewishLawyer

        1. I said very OT which other people have done on other threads when they want to bring something up.

        2. Your complaint leads me to think it is more about who is doing it than the subject.

    • “Is there any study into people who have adverse reactions to gifs and memes? I often hate them.”

      Not that I know of, but its only a matter of time.

      “What is it about the Internet that promotes extreme and total nostalgia for all things 80s and 90s? And why am I seemingly the only one who thinks this is bad”

      Kids who were born in the 80’s and 90’s, like myself, have access to the internet. Every generation engages in childhood nostalgia, but we’re actively archiving what we remember from those times. A good chunk of that generation is at the point where they’re having kids and they want to pass those experiences on too.

      Buuuuuuttttttt you should also check out the cub-culture of Steampunk. Millennials, mostly, dressing up like they’re from Jules Verne’s opium induced hallucinations. Why are kids these days so nostalgic for the 1920’s?!!!

    • Resistance Fighter Astraea

      [ Jessica Jones eye roll gif ]

  • indefinitelee

    never knew this was to be addressing HIV/AIDS.

    there is that one line:
    “His health is fading and he doesn’t know why.
    Three letters took him to his final resting place.”

    and later:
    “For tootin’ caine in your own vein”

    Unless I’m missing something I’m finding it hard to say it “boldly spoke about the HIV/AIDS epidemic”

    • “in a way that hadn’t been done before” is how that sentence ended.

  • spencer_e9876

    Postmodern Jukebox? Gaaaaaaaack.

    • wjts

      They’re definitely a bit of a one-trick pony, but it’s not the worst trick I’ve ever seen and sometimes they do it really well.

      • spencer_e9876

        Eh, it’s all subjective. I have never understood their appeal, and I find the one trick they have to be tiresome and grating. Also too, I get a bit weary hearing my girlfriend and her friends rave about them, so there is that.

      • Fall into a pit of rabid gerbils and die. I love PMJ.

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