My iTunes shuffle is being kind to me tonight, and it’s given me an opportunity to sing the praises of what could be one of my favourite songs of the 90s. It was also a great success story for Jennifer Paige, for whom “Crush” was the debut single.
After getting a break at one of LA’s biggest radio stations, demand for the song exploded, and it became one of the biggest airplay hits of 1998 worldwide, as well as selling over a million copies worldwide. Despite its modest but unexceptional success in the UK, I think it’s still very fondly remembered here, and I still hear it regularly on the radio.
The song itself I think is a triumph of trial and error, somehow finding the golden balance between the increasingly sexualised teen-pop songs of the late 90s, and the more organic feel of radio hits from female singer-songwriters like Sheryl Crow and to a lesser extent Alanis Morissette. Not that there should be any question over this being a pure pop song.
It tells a story that might mislead many people to think it’s just a straightforward confession of a crush and ultimately a plea for the object to get together with her. But really it’s almost a brush-off – sure she admits she has the hots for them, but so what? Get over yourself, because she will get over you soon enough. Except that’s not quite true. There’s a brief middle-eight when Jennifer fantasises about a happy ending, the picket-fences, blue skies etc. and you realise that this record is just an over-zealous denial of how she really feels.
It’s also insanely catchy, her vocals are distinctive but not as overbaked as some of her contemporaries. She’s a very good singer, and just doesn’t dress it up too much with vocal acrobatics like the Mariahs and soon-to-be Aguileras of the world.
I love singing along to this song. So much so that I downloaded it on XBox360’s “Lips” game, and – in an admittedly limited field of around 500 competitors – managed to top the world leaderboard. A singularly great and embarassing achievement for me. But I still tweeted about it (I have so few things I think are worth tweeting), and got a perhaps-sarcastic “Impressive ;)” message from the lady herself. *sigh*.
She is known as one of the biggest “one hit wonders” of the 90s, but I really enjoyed her first two albums (nothing against the third, I haven’t heard it yet). In fact “Positively Somewhere” might be one of my favourite pop albums. Subsequent singles like “Stranded”, “Here with me” and “Always You” are well-worn mp3s in my collection. She just has this fresh and summery voice, that makes it difficult for me to listen to it angrily for any length of time, I will also have a soft spot for her.