Friday, March 30, 1990

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

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, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 583.52 video, 353.55 streaming


Click on award for more details.

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.


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First posted 3/23/2020; last updated 6/18/2023.

Tuesday, March 20, 1990

Sinéad O’Connor “Black Boys on Mopeds” released

Black Boys on Mopeds

Sinéad O’Connor

Writer(s): Sinéad O’Connor, arranged with Karl Wallinger (see lyrics here)

Released: March 20, 1990 (as album cut)

First Charted: --

Peak: 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.40 video, 3.41 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Sinéad O’Connor emerged in 1987 with The Lion and the Cobra. The singles “Troy,” “Mandinka,” and “I Want Your Hands on Me” suggested she could be a darling of the alternative-rock scene. No one could have anticipated the monster success that came with her sophomore album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got. It became a multi-platinum #1 smash, thanks to her heart-wrenching (and chart-topping) iconic cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

It would be her only top-40 success in the United States, although she became an unforgettable presence because of her troubled life and using “her platform to shine a light on important issues” OP by “making her art a powerful vehicle for change.” OP “Her powerful social commentary was evident in ‘Black Boys on Mopeds,’” OP from the I Do Not Want album. It was “a clear demonstration of her activism” MM standing as one of her “starkest and most unshakeable protest songs” BB. It is “a devastating ballad of just her and multi-tracked acoustic guitar” BB marked by her “politically-charged lyrics and passionate performance.” MM

The “devastating wake-up call” YH was “a powerful critique of British police brutality and systemic racism.” MM “She laments the hypocrisy of a U.K. government that decries murder in foreign lands while its police enact racist killings on home turf.” BB She wrote the “haunting ballad after two teenage boys, riding borrowed mopeds that police assumed they’d stolen, were chased by law enforcement and fatally crashed.” RS

Sadly, the message has remained relevant “as Black Lives Matter uprisings have brought increased awareness to the very type of police killings O’Connor wrote about more than three decades ago.” RS “With its starkness, poignant message, and delicate melody, not only is it an essential Sinead O’Connor song, but a track that is essentially Sinead O’Connor.” YH

The song has been covered by Phoebe Bridgers, Sharon Van Etten, and alt-metal band Chevelle.


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First posted 7/26/2023.

Monday, March 19, 1990

Robert Plant Manic Nirvana released

Manic Nirvana

Robert Plant

Released: March 19, 1990

Peak: 13 US, 15 UK, 11 CN, 26 AU

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.06 UK

Genre: rock


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Hurting Kind (I’ve Got My Eyes on You) [4:04] (3/17/90, 46 US, 1 AR, 45 UK, 14 CN, 63 AU)
  2. Big Love [4:24] (4/7/90, 35 AR)
  3. S S S & Q [4:38] (8/18/90, 47 AR)
  4. I Cried [4:59] (4/7/90, 39 AR)
  5. She Said [5:10]
  6. Nirvana [4:36]
  7. Tie Dye on the Highway [5:15] (3/31/90, 6 AR)
  8. Your Ma Said You Cried in Your Sleep Last Night [4:36] (6/9/90, 8 AR, 90 UK)
  9. Anniversary [5:02]
  10. Liars Dance [2:40]
  11. Watching You [4:19]

Total Running Time: 49:43


3.237 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“A disingenuous Robert Plant began the ‘90s with his heaviest rock album yet. His trick was to balance the big riffs with some nouveaux quirks, as heard on SSS&Q, a song that sounded like Led Zeppelin, James Brown and Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Buffalo Gals.’ Tracks such as Liars Dance were more restrained, but overall this was Robert Plant as supposedly self-parodying rock star; a too-subtle distinction that went over the heads of those Cult and Guns N’ Roses fans who helped put it into the UK and US Top 20 anyway.” Q

The album failed to produce a top-40 hit on the pop charts, but Plant continued to be embraced by album rock radio where he landed at #1 with Hurting Kind and had two more top-10s with Tie Dye on the Highway and Your Ma Said You Cried in Your Sleep Last Night.

Still, the album fell fall short of the commercial success of its predecessor, 1988’s Now and Zen. That album reached the top 10 in the U.S. and sold 3 million copies. Manic Nirvana peaked at #12 and stalled at half a million in sales. It faced a similar fate in the UK, missing the top 10 and falling short of gold status – both accomplishments which Now and Zen achieved.

Notes: A 2007 reissue added bonus tracks “Oompah (Watery Blint),” “One Love,” and “Don’t Look Back.”

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First posted 9/27/2010; last updated 8/28/2021.

Depeche Mode released Violator

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


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)


3.929 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)

Quotable: --


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


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

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