Color Me Badd

The Best of Color Me Badd

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The Best of Color Me Badd Review

by William Ruhlmann

Two years after Color Me Badd broke up in the wake of the commercial failure of Awakening, Giant Records assembled this compilation. The title The Best of Color Me Badd instead of greatest hits, signals that it is not a simple collection of the group's chart singles. In fact, of their nine Top 40 pop hits, six are included, among them the major hits "I Wanna Sex You Up," "I Adore Mi Amor," and "All 4 Love." (The missing titles are "Slow Motion," "Forever Love," and "Time and Chance.") The other half of the disc consists of B-sides (the R&B chart entry "Color Me Badd"), album tracks (among them a cover of the 1973 Skylark hit "Wildflower" produced and arranged by David Foster, who was in Skylark), and rarities ("Got 2 Have U" from the Beverly Hills 90210 TV soundtrack, and "Where Lovers Go," previously available only as a Japanese bonus track). The result is a reasonable sampler of Color Me Badd's work. "We're not a fad," they sang on "Color Me Badd," but they were, breaking five Top 20 hits off their 1991 debut album, the triple-platinum C.M.B., and going straight downhill from there. Picking up from New Edition and especially New Kids on the Block, who were subsiding just as they emerged, Color Me Badd, along with Boyz II Men, were the teen-oriented male vocal group of their day, complete with hype, videos, silly haircuts, and four interweaving mediocre tenor voices. It is no coincidence that, just as they themselves were slipping below the radar, descendants like Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC were just coming on. But unlike the so-called boy bands that came after them (how can they be bands if they don't play instruments?), they were R&B-influenced rather than Eurocentric, even to the point of being an integrated group, and they incorporated a broader range of musical styles into their sound. They were also more overtly sexual ("I Wanna Sex You Up"), even if "Sexual Capacity," one of the album tracks included here, proves to be a confession of limited capacity when you examine the lyrics. The characteristic they shared with both their predecessors and followers, however, is that they were essentially image-based, a bunch of reasonably attractive, modestly talented young men more important for their pin-up value than their musical accomplishments, and so they remain on this compilation.

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