’90s No. 1s Revisited: “If Wishes Came True”
The fifteenth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “If Wishes Came True” by Sweet Sensation, a New York-based freestyle girl group whose two studio albums spawned a total of nine entries onto the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart from 1986-1991. “If Wishes Came True,” the seventh, was their only No. 1 hit, and their only Top 10. They have not released an album since Love Child, the one that featured “If Wishes Came True.”
Lacking an especially distinct image or sound, Sweet Sensation can be confused with Cover Girls, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Will To Power, Shannon or any number of freestyle acts. “Freestyle” is one of those hard-to-define, “you know it when you hear it” genres. But by this point in 1990 it had hit its peak in popularity and was beginning to fade as newer styles and more sophisticated production techniques raised the bar for innovation, and even straight-up sound quality. Freestyle songs tended to sound a bit cheap, and this is why it’s not an especially everlasting genre.
Let’s take a listen to “If Wishes Came True”:
This single is among the last to hit No. 1 in the ’90s that sounds like it was made in the ’80s. On the plus side, the music of the ’80s was not as self-conscious, so you tended to get more openhearted, sincere storytelling. The ’90s would include some real innovations, but also impose some shackles, and songs like “If Wishes Came True” seem oblivious to the existence of cynicism. As does the video, which looks like Glamour Shots footage. But the song has some nice melodic turns and pleasant instrumental flourishes, and the chord progression in the intro, later repeated in the bridge, is interesting. It’s a cute song.
“If Wishes Came True” was safe and somewhat inconsequential radio filler, and it didn’t seem to get much play after this song slid off the charts. Also, we don’t remember this video getting much airtime on MTV or VH1. It seemed made to be a temporary go-to on Top 40 and Adult Contemporary radio.
Does it hold up? Not really. Even in 1990, this song already sounded sort of dated. It hit No. 1 in September, and by the end of the year seemed like ancient history. But it has a certain nostalgic appeal for those who appreciate freestyle.
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?