It’s been 25 years since the ladies of En Vogue released their best selling sophomore album, Funky Divas. Not that their quality of music ever diminished or their vocals lost power… fans seemed to have grown tired of their inconsistent line up to keep up with the releases that followed. Things looked promising when the original quartet lit up the charts for the Set It Off soundtrack in 1996 with the track Don’t Let Go (Love). The worldwide hit peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The track was also lifted from what became the June 1997 release EV3.
EV3 was the last album recorded with Dawn Robinson who decided to leave the group for a solo career. Her abrupt departure from En Vogue forced the remaining trio to re-record several of Dawn’s original lead vocals; however, not every track was re-recorded, with Dawn’s leads remaining intact on several tracks and her background vocals still appearing on every song with the exception of Does Anybody Hear Me. EV3 spawned three hit singles.
Cindy, Terry and Maxine took famous classical music (“masterpieces”) and put their own R&B flavor on it for their May 2000 release Masterpiece Theatre. The first single release Riddle was set to be followed by a mini-film containing the En Vogue Love Suite (Love U Crazay, Sad But True, Love Won’t Take Me Out, Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Será. Será) but plans fell through. Plans for the second single Love U Crazay were cancelled after the weak commercial performance of the project, Masterpiece Theatre album sales stand at over 300,000 copies sold in the US to date.
2004 marked the return of En Vogue with a new album and a new lineup. Original members Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron were joined by new member Rhona Bennett. Rhona replaced Amanda Cole who recorded ten of the fifteen tracks with Herron and Ellis; these would later be re-recorded with Bennett who replaced all of Cole’s leads on the album. Following its release, Soul Flower went on to sell 35,000 copies and failed to chart on the Billboard 200. The album reached #47 on the charts for Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and #15 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart. Since its release, the album has sold over 300,000 copies within the U.S. to date.
While we at MCP know that quality is sometimes overlooked when it doesn’t reflect in quantity, we wanted to celebrate the legendary group by reminding (or maybe introducing) our readers of some of the songs that should have gotten more love from the ladies!
Whatever (EV3 -1997)
The second single from EV3. The track peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #8 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The single was certified gold by the RIAA after sales of over 500,000 copies. The visual was dark and creative and could now be considered what is now ahead of it’s time seeing that years after several other music artists tried to duplicate the concept.
Too Gone, Too Long (EV3 – 1997)
The official final single released from EV3. It peaked at #33 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and #25 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. This track could definitely be considered one of the strongest vocal efforts from the group as a trio.
Damn I Wanna Be Your Lover (EV3 – 1997)
The trio delivered an honest and open confession through sensual lyrics. This is where they lay it all on the table in hopes on changing their last name with who they consider The One!
No, No, No (Can’t Come Back) (Masterpiece Theatre – 2000)
The ladies battle their demons in the form of jealousy, ego and sadness as they look to shake off insecurity and stand on their own strength to move forward with life. Simplistic is lyric, but still a showcase of harmony.
Love U Crazay (Masterpiece Theatre – 2000)
Putting a spin on The Nutcracker, the ladies declare their love. One of the highlights of the themed album that fell a little flat overall with their fanbase.
Losin My Mind (Soulflower – 2004)
When you’re so deep in love, you lose all sense of reality… this is how you can pretty much sum up this record from the trip consisting of two of the founding members and newcomer Rhona Bennett. The harmonies changed slightly with the new voice, but it was still there and it still worked.
Ez-A-Lee (Soulflower – 2004)
A bouncy midtempo where the ladies let it be known that the man may have left their situation easy, but it won’t be that easy to come back!
Ooh Boy (Soulflower – 2004)
A soulful midtempo where the ladies refuse to withhold the feelings that their man makes them feel. The feel of the song definitely holds true to the title and theme of the album.
All You See (Soulflower – 2004)
The ladies let it be known that it is more to them that meets the eye. Beautiful yes, but the intelligence that possess should be the real selling point. Take note fellas… women are more than objects to desire.
Dissed Him (Soulflower – 2004)
The ladies regret playing hard to get on this record. The ladies showcase their newfound harmonies as they replay the moments that lead up to them being without their guy.
Cindy, Terry and Rhona are scheduled to deliver a new album this year titled Electric Café as they consistently tour the country and reach their fans across the world. The ladies definitely prove that they are still born to sing.
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