’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Love Will Lead You Back”
The sixth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Love Will Lead You Back” by Taylor Dayne. Starting in 1987, this powerhouse songstress sent her first seven singles into the Top 10, an absolutely incredible streak. All were love songs; in fact, five of these seven contained either the word “love” or the word “heart” in the title. “Love Will Lead You Back” was the sixth in that series of big hits, and her first and only No. 1 song to date.
Written by iconic hit machine Diane Warren, “Love” is an aching plea for a lover’s return — a testament to the power of destiny, or evidence of psychopathic denial, depending on your perspective.
Give “Love Will Lead You Back” a listen:
Dayne’s catalog sort of runs together in one’s memory into a generic mush of big vocals over ’80s instrumentals. That’s by no means an indictment of Dayne, but when you don’t write your own songs, you’re at the mercy of your record label, handlers and producers — not to mention stylists, publicists and lawyers. If you have a strong artistic sensibility and courage, you can be picky and flex creative control over your career. We don’t know Dayne personally, but we suspect she surrendered quite a bit of control to others, probably because her highest aspiration was to have a successful singing career, not to make a profound artistic statement.
It’s hard to argue Taylor Dayne wasn’t dope given her ubiquity on Top 40 radio. At the same time, her direct contemporary Paula Abdul had a similar string of hits but made a bigger name for herself, and ultimately a bigger legacy. All that said, to focus narrowly on this particular song, it’s admittedly lovely, and if the listener is in the right mindset, a tear may be shed.
Does it hold up? “Love” suffers from the same Electronic Piano Syndrome that dates many songs of this era, but nevertheless Warren’s exceptional songwriting talents give the song legs. The idea that “someday I just know that love will lead you back to my arms where you belong” is simple enough that one can relate, but phrased in a clever enough way that it’s memorable. Overall this is a nice ballad, finely produced and convincingly sung. Possibly Dayne’s second-best single, behind 1993’s underrated “Send Me A Lover.”
Dopeness: 3 out of 5 Birkenstocks
’90s No. 1s Revisited is a regular feature on “Was It Dope?” where we walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?