’90s No. 1s Revisited: “Freak Me”
The sixty-eighth No. 1 song of the 1990s was “Freak Me” by Silk. Prior to “Freak Me,” this Georgia quintet had peaked at No. 86 in February with their debut single, “Happy Days.” Silk followed the success of “Freak Me” with six more hits throughout the ’90s, none reaching the Top 10. Their most recent album, as of this writing, was the appropriately titled Quiet Storm, out in March 2016.
“Freak Me” is an R&B bedroom torch song sung from the perspective of a horny person who wants to employ unconventional methods of erotic stimulation, such as the liberal application of dessert toppings, during a sex session later that same day. Whether he succeeds is left unclear. This type of music was gaining popularity around 1993, driven by acts like Keith Sweat — who co-wrote this song — and Jodeci, and then prolonged throughout the decade by various interchangeable, forgettable groups like Dru Hill, H-Town, Az Yet and Next. This genre is distinctively ’90s; some acts still put out music in this style today, but it’s ignored by radio and by most listeners.
Let’s give “Freak Me” a fresh listen:
What seemed risque, naughty and envelope-pushing in the 1990s can come off as trite and laughably corny in the 2010s, this track being a prime example. For anyone who lived through this decade, “Freak Me” now seems indistinguishable from countless other ’90s R&B “quiet storm” jams, although its use of breathy spoken-word verses, reminiscent in some ways of Madonna’s “Justify My Love,” adds a bit of interest. That it took five people to deliver these vocals also seems peculiar. The whole endeavor is underwhelming.
At the time, this track was somewhat novel for its sexual themes. Just two years earlier, by comparison, the No. 1 song was the R&B ballad “The First Time,” which seems like a children’s hymn by comparison. The success of “Freak Me” would go on to help make sexual expression by men more mainstream, and even expected.
Does it hold up? Noooooo. Only two types of people are listening to this song today: Black couples in their 40s or 50s who are trying to set a romantic mood, and younger white people who are maybe throwing a ’90s-themed party and want to create a playlist of outdated music for laughs.
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?