Friday, March 30, 1990

MC Hammer charted with “U Can’t Touch This”

First posted 3/23/2020.

U Can’t Touch This

M.C. Hammer

Writer(s): Stanley Burrell/Rick James/Alonzo Miller (see lyrics here)


Released: January 13, 1990


First Charted: March 30, 1990


Peak: 8 US, 4 CB, 11 RR, 11 RB, 3 UK, 8 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.4 UK, 1.09 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 583.52 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

When Stanley Burrell emerged from the West Coast rap scene in the late ‘80s, he took on the name MC Hammer in celebration of a nickname from his youth. As a bat boy for the Oakland A’s baseball team, he was nicknamed “Hammer” because of his similarity to baseball legend “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron. After the 1987 independent release of Feel My Power and his major label debut with Let’s Get It Started in 1988, Hammer made it big with his third album, 1990’s Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em.

To market the album’s first single, “U Can’t Touch This,” the record company sent out cassette singles to 100,000 kids asking them to request MTV to play the video. It worked – viewers embraced his dance-oriented performance in outrageously baggy pants and made it the network’s most-played video of 1990. SF It also won the network’s 1990 video awards for Best Rap Video and Best Dance Video. The song, which won Grammys for Best R&B Song and Best Rap Solo Performance, was also the first rap song to be nominated for Record of the Year. WK

Despite the huge success of the video, the song only reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. This was before the company developed technologies to track actual sales and airplay and relied on figures given to them by record stores and radio stations. While audiences clearly embraced the song, the music industry wasn’t quite ready to accept the commercial viability of rap music. However, there was no denying the song’s impact. Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em spent 21 weeks atop the Billboard album chart and spawned two more top-ten pop hits with “Have You Seen Her?” and “Pray.”

The song is “the perfect good-time song for nostalgia parties or mere reminiscence of the era that brought us In Living Color and Vanilla Ice.” AMG Hammer “borrowed the monster hook from Rick James’ ‘Super Freak’ and layered a few solid rhymes over it, his somewhat gravelly voice and supreme confidence covering up any deficiencies in lyric or delivery.” AMG James had consistently turned down rappers who wanted to sample his music. According to James, his lawyers authorized the use of “Super Freak” without his permission. SF He sued for copyright infringement and received millions in royalties when the case was settled out of court and Hammer agreed to credit James as a songwriter.


Resources and Related Links:

Monday, March 19, 1990

Depeche Mode released Violator

First posted 2/21/2012; updated 2/15/2020.

Violator

Depeche Mode


Buy Here:


Released: March 19, 1990


Peak: 7 US, 2 UK, 5 CN, 42 AU


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.1 UK, 8.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: synth-pop


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. World in My Eyes [4:26] (9/17/90, #52 US, 17 MR, 17 UK)
  2. Sweetest Perfection [4:43]
  3. Personal Jesus [4:56] (8/28/89, #28 US, 31 CB, 3 MR, 13 UK, 44 CN)
  4. Halo [4:30]
  5. Waiting for the Night [6:07]
  6. Enjoy the Silence [6:12] (2/5/90, #8 US, 1 MR, 6 UK, 14 CN, 71 AU)
  7. Policy of Truth [4:55] (5/7/90, #15 US, 1 MR, 16 UK)
  8. Blue Dress [5:41]
  9. Clean [5:32]
  10. Song (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks)

All tracks written by Martin Gore.


Total Running Time: 47:02


The Players:

  • Andrew Fletcher (keyboards)
  • David Gahan (vocals)
  • Martin Gore (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
  • Alan Wilder (keyboards)

Rating:

3.929 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)


Quotable: --


Awards:

About the Album:

Violator was Depeche Mode’s “most mainstream chart-climbing album” AZ and, “the crowning glory of the boys’ black-leather period” RS as far as many DM fans are concerned. It “is a quintessential benchmark of pop, rock and electronic music…because it [seamlessly] marries dance, goth-rock and synth-pop with good ol’ fashioned Motown funk and rock n’ roll.” SL

The group originally came out of the new romantic period in the early ‘80s, but soon veered toward a darker sound. Violator “continued in the general vein of the previous two studio efforts by Depeche Mode: Martin Gore’s upfront lyrical emotional extremism and knack for a catchy hook filtered through Alan Wilder’s ear for perfect arrangements, ably assisted by top English producer Flood,” AMG who also produced and engineered albums for U2, Erasure, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. TB

Violator “was slicker and more accessible than the band’s previous efforts” SL and “song for song…[is] simply the best, most consistent effort yet from the band.” AMG It was “heavily influenced by techno-pop” AZ with half of the tracks “tailor-made for the dance floor.” AZ It was “conceived when dance-club DJs were gaining recognition alongside original composers.” AZ

Lead single Personal Jesus was “the group’s most striking single yet” TB yet was also “the unlikeliest of pop hits.” SL It is “a cynical jab at organized religion and televangelism.” SL Musically, it as “perversely simplistic, with a stiff, arcane funk/hip-hop beat and basic blues guitar chords, and tremendous, thanks to sharp production touches and David Gahan’s echoed, snaky vocals.” AMG “The bluesy guitar line Martin Gore lays down on top of the synth-dominated grooves” AZ is “a particular highlight on this fantastic album.” AZ

Enjoy the Silence was “a nothing-else-remains-but-us ballad pumped up into a huge, dramatic romance/dance number, commanding in its mock orchestral/choir scope.” AMG It remains the group’s only U.S. top ten pop hit. “Beneath its grand synth-pop exterior, though, lay a gloomy pessimism that’s strung throughout the whole of Violator,” SL “like a corpse with a passionate pulse.” ZS

Third single Policy of Truth was “a low-key Motown funk number for the modern day with a sharp love/hate lyric to boot.” AMG A “theme of lies and consequence continue, but this time Gahan/Gore is less compassionate than he is outright jaded: ‘You’ll see your problems multiplied/ If you continually decide/ To faithfully pursue/ The policy of truth.’” SL

“The shuffling beat of Sweetest Perfection (well sung by Gore)” AMG “intertwines sex and addiction” SL and “the guilt-ridden-and-loving-it Halo build[s] into a string-swept pounder.” AMG “When Gahan takes the mic, it’s hard to believe he didn’t write the words coming out of his mouth: ‘You wear guilt…like a halo in reverse.’” SL

On World in My Eyes, “chief songwriter Martin Gore’s voice pads lead vocalist Dave Gahan’s, and then quickly mimes him.” SL That song, as well as “Sweetest Perfection” and “Halo”, “turn teen angst and sexual obsession into grand synth-pop melodrama.” RS

The ethereal Waiting for the NightAMG features “cyclical tinkling bleeps and a minimalist pulsing backbeat percolat[ing] underneath layered voices and haunting vocal harmonies.” SL The “electronic swing number” SL Blue Dress “is at once profoundly sad, sexy and creepy, as Gore croons ‘put it on’ (referring to the titular dress) repeatedly throughout. ‘Something so worthless serves a purpose,’ he sings. ‘It makes me a happy man.’” SL

“The cinematic final track” SLClean wraps up Violator on an eerie note, all ominous bass notes and odd atmospherics carrying the song. Goth without ever being stupidly hammy, synth without sounding like the clinical stereotype of synth music, rock without ever sounding like a ‘rock’ band, Depeche here reach astounding heights indeed.” AMG “No other Depeche Mode album has been this captivating and sophisticated.” SL It “remains the group’s defining work.” TB


Notes:

A 2006 reissue added tracks “Dangerous,” “Memphisto,” “Sibeling,” “Kaleid,” “Happiest Girl,” and “Sea of Sin.”

Review Sources: