Like most of the current ASU population, I am a female. Like most females on campus, I was a young girl in the ’90s.
The adolescent musical landscape of the 1990s was characterized by the success of the “girl group,” and TLC absolutely dominated. To a 7-year-old girl in 1999, TLC was the coolest, perhaps second only to the Spice Girls. It represented girl power, released pop songs that every youth listened to and perpetuated the idea that you’ve made it to the top if you and your best friends get to wear slightly different versions of the same denim minidress. So, yeah, TLC was kind of a big deal.
But the reality of the situation is that, once you grew up from your 7-year-old girl self and developed your own musical preferences that may have strayed from radio pop, you abandoned TLC. Your childhood ’90s-pop obsession was a portion of life entirely forgotten about until “No Scrubs” came on the radio and you somehow knew all the words by heart.
That’s why it caught my eye when I heard TLC is releasing a new album next week.
Titled “20,” the new album will be released on Oct. 15 via Epic Records, which was responsible for the album releases of a myriad of ’90s pop groups (Anyone remember B*WITCHED?). When the album was initially announced, it was rumored that “20” would feature four brand-new TLC songs, but when the track list was released, it read more like a “greatest hits” CD. For anyone looking to relive their childhood, “20” has new, rerecorded versions of all the songs you watched weekend mornings on VH1’s “Pop-Up Video” — “No Scrubs,” “Creep” and “Unpretty” are all there, along with a revamped “Waterfalls,” which features Japanese pop singer Namie Amuro singing Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ part. (Lopes died in 2002 after deadly car crash in Honduras.)
However, there was a track name I didn’t recognize.
Sure enough, “Meant to Be,” is the first new song released by TLC since 2002. The audio leaked last night, and as great as that is, I was extremely reluctant to listen to it. I’m not one for nostalgia-driven comebacks. I may have thought TLC was awesome in 1998, but I’m a grown woman now, with musical tastes that transcend far beyond what I was into when I was 6. That, combined with the fear that TLC would try and cash in on current music trends and create a mangled mess of a 2013-worthy pop song, made me close my laptop lid before I even clicked on the YouTube link. Plus, “Meant to Be” was written by Ne-Yo, of whom I’ve never been a fan.
After a few minutes of internal struggle, my curiosity got the best of me, and I listened to “Meant to Be” with the volume maxed out on my speakers.
“Meant to Be” surprised me in that it sounded exactly like TLC, which was … entirely unsurprising. The song, a slow R&B; ballad, sacrificed nothing in terms of sound despite the 11-year gap between “Meant to Be” and the group’s last fresh track. It sounded like it was 1999, and I had just turned on the radio. I don’t believe “Meant to Be” will mark a fantastical TLC comeback into the pop world, nor do I believe that the song itself is great, but the fact that the group did more than just a “greatest hits” album is remarkable.
Aside from the release of “Meant to Be” and the upcoming release of “20,” October is a busy month for TLC. On Oct. 21, VH1 will be premiering an original biopic about the group called, “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.” The movie will star Lil Mama — the artist who got famous off a mid-2000s song about magical lip gloss that made her popular in high school. I have nothing to add to this.
Turn of the millennium, all-girl pop groups are certainly not my jam anymore, but I have to hand it to TLC for doing what it does best. And, for the first time since 1996, TLC is actually more relevant than Destiny’s Child.
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