’90s No. 1s Revisited: “All 4 Love”
The fifty-fourth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “All 4 Love” by Color Me Badd. As the first song to reach No. 1 in 1992, this track set the stage for what would turn out to be the worst year of the decade for No. 1 hits. There were lots of excellent pop songs that charted in 1992, mind you, including but certainly not limited to: “Walking On Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox, “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Sophie B. Hawkins, “All I Want” by Toad the Wet Sprocket, “Hazard” by Richard Marx, “Restless Heart” by Peter Cetera, “Stay” by Shakespear’s Sister, “Human Touch” by Bruce Springsteen, “Digging In The Dirt” by Peter Gabriel, “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough” by Patty Smyth, “Just Another Day” by Jon Secada, “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” by En Vogue, “Always The Last To Know” by Del Amitri, “Kissing The Wind” by Nia Peeples, “I’ll Get By” by Eddie Money, “You Won’t See Me Cry” by Wilson Phillips,”It’s Not A Love Thing” by Geoffrey Williams and … well, let’s draw the line there for now. The point is that 1992 was a good year for music, you just wouldn’t know it if all you had to go by were the No. 1 hits, most of which were either painfully cheesy novelty songs or unnecessary retreads of superior source material.
Cue “All 4 Love,” which was both! This was Color Me Badd’s second and final chart-topping release, following “I Adore Mi Amor.” As was mentioned in that review, “All 4 Love” marked a startlingly bizarre change in image and sound for the quartet, whose debut single (“I Wanna Sex You Up“) was sexual and whose second single (“Amor”) was romantic, or trying to be. “All 4 Love” was a juvenile, asexual throwback pop song with ’60s sensibilities, including heavy sampling and interpolation of an obscure 1966 Mad Lads song called “Patch My Heart.” It gave new meaning to the word “badd.”
Take a moment to hear “All 4 Love”:
We’re not going to sit on a high horse and say we never liked this song. It’s got some cute, catchy elements. And we’re here to talk about songs, not videos. But unfortunately in some cases, a video can destroy a song, and that’s the situation here. In more capable hands, this video could have coolly incorporated some interesting retro references, with the group coyly winking at the bubblegum influences, wholly in on the joke. Instead we’re subjected to an unsophisticated mess that comes off as if these poor fellows are the victims of a malicious prank orchestrated by the video’s director, costume designer, set designer and choreographer. As in the video for “I Adore Mi Amor” before it, the members of Color Me Badd don’t seem to have any innate sense of shame that restrains them from over-acting. And with “All 4 Love” it gets even worse because they take that gaudy showmanship into the realm of synchronized dancing, and the result is embarrassing to watch.
Was it dope? Really, no. This release wounded their careers a bit. They followed “All 4 Love” with songs that really should have done better than they did. “Thinkin’ Back,” “Slow Motion” and “Forever Love” were pretty good tracks, and “Choose” was one of the best songs of 1994. But Color Me Badd never hit the Top 10 after “All 4 Love,” and we suspect this video may have contributed to warping their image.
Does it hold up? If today were anytime between 1993 and 2013, we’d say 100% no. But oddly, there are elements of this song that have had a resurgence in popularity. The general boy band structure was recently hot thanks to One Direction. The prominent use of horns was successfully employed on “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson f/ Bruno Mars, a No. 1 hit in 2015. And the ’60s doo-wop vibe was liberally applied on a series of recent hits by Meghan Trainor, and to a lesser extent Taylor Swift. But no matter how you slice it, “All 4 Love” doesn’t work today, because we can never un-see the video.
Dopeness: 2 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?