’90s No. 1s Revisited: “4 Seasons Of Loneliness”
The one hundred eleventh No. 1 song of the 1990s was “4 Seasons Of Loneliness” by Boyz II Men. This track would turn out to be the quartet’s fifth and final trip to No. 1, ending a very impressive chart run over a five-year period during which they broke the record for the longest-running No. 1 single with “End Of The Road” in 1992, then tied the new record for longest-running No. 1 single with “I’ll Make Love To You” in 1994, then became the first act since The Beatles to replace themselves at No. 1 with “On Bended Knee,” and then re-broke the record for longest-running No. 1 single in collaboration with Mariah Carey with “One Sweet Day” in 1995-96. Take a moment to consider how tremendous these accomplishments were, and still are! That Boyz II Men isn’t more revered today is shameful. Anyway, following “4 Seasons Of Loneliness,” Boyz II Men would hit the Hot 100 three more times with ever-diminishing success, last appearing with the track “Thank You In Advance,” which peaked at No. 80 in January 2001.
The general theme of “4 Seasons Of Loneliness” was consistent with the group’s other hits, as it is a love ballad, but it veered from their discography a bit by incorporating electronic drum elements, wider variety in the pacing of their vocal delivery, and a crisper production sensibility, at the hands of writers/producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. It is, in our opinion, their best song by far, even though it’s virtually vanished from the public consciousness, due in part, no doubt, to how tremendously successful their other songs were in comparison. “4 Seasons Of Loneliness” spent just one week at No. 1, the only single of 1997 to log such a short tenure on top, and from that perspective could be perceived as a commercial disappointment.
“4 Seasons Of Loneliness,” as one could surmise by the name, is sung from the point of view of a man who’s suffering heartbreak and has to endure constant reminders of his ex through each season of the subsequent year. It’s a tear-jerker.
Turn down the lights and focus your attention on “4 Seasons Of Loneliness”:
This song is a masterpiece. “End Of The Road” and “On Bended Knee” were both breakup songs, but “4 Seasons Of Loneliness” has, to us, much greater emotional impact because the lyrical content is more specific, compelling and believable. “End Of The Road” and “On Bended Knee” both take place at the time of the breakup, with the protagonist fighting the end of the relationship and begging for reconciliation. “4 Seasons Of Loneliness” is in some ways the devastating sequel to those songs because the singers are resigned to their fates as incomplete men trapped in a perpetual cycle of self-torment. All three songs are meant to elicit pity from the listener, but the clever incorporation of the time element in “4 Seasons Of Loneliness” elicits something deeper than pity. Beyond that, we believe this was Boyz II Men’s best vocal performance ever recorded. There’s a particular vulnerability in member Shawn Stockman’s turns at the mic.
Does it hold up? As mentioned, “4 Seasons Of Loneliness” doesn’t get much modern-day attention, largely because Boyz II Men is so closely associated with the aforementioned smash ballads. It’s no surprise to learn that “4 Seasons Of Loneliness” lags behind their other four No. 1s in terms of YouTube views. In fact, as of this writing, it has fewer than half the views of “Water Runs Dry,” which peaked at No. 2 in 1995. Beyond that, the production of “4 Seasons Of Loneliness,” particularly the percussion, does sound dated, as it embodies a particular style that was well-worn in the late ’90s. But we still love it!
Dopeness: 5 out of 5 Birkenstocks
Boyz II Men
“4 Seasons Of Loneliness”
1 week at No. 1, starting Oct. 4, 1997
Preceded by: “Honey,” Mariah Carey
Followed by: “Something About The Way You Look Tonight” / “Candle In The Wind 1997,” Elton John
’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?