COVER STORY | Boyz II Men definitely ruled the 90’s R&B scene with their harmonious melodies and uptempo cuts. Their music was family-friendly even though the singing of making love I could listen to them with my mom and dad and not be embarrassed about the lyrics or see them cringe, unlike today’s R&B. I remember when I first hear their lead single Motownphilly from their debut album Cooleyhighharmony. I was thinking who are these guys and why are they singing to me lol.
Shawn Stock, Wanya Morris, Michael McCray and, Nathan Morris all hail from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and got their start singing together at Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. They were heavily influenced by 80’s R&B group New Edition and even named themselves after their song Boys to Men off their 1988 album Heart Break. After a chance encounter they meet Michael Bivins of New Edition, sang NE’s “Can You Stand The Rain”, and the rest is history. They were signed to Bivins’ Biv 10 Productions management and released CooleyHighHarmony April 30, 1991, on Motown Records. Join me as I go back to that era and list my favorite songs from that album.
Motownphilly – now this is definitely a bop! This was a great introduction to who they were and that East Coast sound. And even with the uptempo beat you still hear the 4 part harmonies. The video had you wondering who are these guys and let’s not forget the matching outfits with the button-down shirts, ties, and knee shorts. Every young man during that era mimicked their choreographed moves, singing, and outfits. My boyfriend at that time thought he was an honorary member… he definitely was not as he could not hold a note or dance lol but had similar outfits from JW (eye roll) lol.
Lonely Heart – I am a huge fan of an artist using real instruments especially the piano and the introduction to this song goes so well with the title. It opens with Mike and his girlfriend talking to one another. She tells him “it’s over and the love is gone”. He tells her “ no baby” and begs her to stay. The sound of piano keys picks you up and places you right there in that moment. Shawn starts the song singing “ I never thought that it could be, you would turn and do this to me” then Nate comes in singing “ you told me you’d never go away and for me, you’d always be here”. Then intertwine their vocals together as they take us into the chorus. “ A lonely heart is what I’ll be and no one cares for me” now I can listen to this kind of begging all day.
Uhh Ahh (Sequel Version) – Now this song pushed the risky envelope and showed the sexier side of the group. All while singing with those beautiful harmonies. It starts out with them singing “ In a minute we’ll be finished, was I all that you hoped and dreamed? Was I strong enough? To make you feel me did I dig too deep into your mind?” The way they expressed making love physically and mentally was like none other. It wasn’t just thrown in your face it was very gentlemanly. The video, of course, had sex appeal with the guys in bathrobes, hot tubs, and ladies in lingerie. I was highly jealous of the ladies in the video lol
End of The Road – Now this is the perfect breakup song “ How could you love me and leave me and never say goodbye?” This song really showcased the vocals of Wanya and in my opinion, he has the most recognizable voice of the group. When he sings “ Can you love me again as you loved me before? “This time I want you to love me much more” I know we’ve all had that one relationship when we knew it was over but as the song says “Although we’ve come to the end of the road still I can’t let go”. Boy did I wear this song out lol over nothing and nobody?
It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday – It was originally written in 1975 by husband and wife duo Freddie Perrin and Christine Yarian and sung by Motown artist GC Cameron. Now I a sucker for perfectly blended harmonies especially a capella. And that’s exactly what Boyz II Men did with this song. This song hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on Hot R&B charts in 1991. I think a lot of you would agree this song has been used more at funerals than anything else.
Honorable Mention – Please Don’t Go and Your Love
Boyz II Men debut album went on to sell 9 million copies and was rereleased in 2009 with additional remixes and 2 unreleased tracks. You can never go wrong with a Boyz II Men album as it will always speak the matters of your heart whether you say it or not.
Until next time