Writer(s): Patrick Brown, Ray Murray, Rico Wade, Marqueze Ethridge, Lisa Lopes (see lyrics here)
Released: May 29, 1995
First Charted: June 10, 1995
Peak: 17 US, 17 CB, 11 GR, 2 RR, 24 AC, 13 RB, 4 UK, 9 CN, 4 AU, 14 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.2 US, 0.6 UK, 2.22 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 138.94 video, 243.36 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
“Waterfalls” was the third single from hip-hop group TLC’s second album. It marked their second trip to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 after “Creep,” the lead single from the same album. It also went to #1 in New Zealand and Switzerland and top 10 in many other countries. It was Billboard’s #2 song for the year and received Grammy nominations for Record of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. It also won four MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year.
The production trio of Rico Wade, Patrick Brown, and Raymon Murray were putting together a girl group called Organized Noize. The group fell apart but the three of them kept the name. Wade knew Tionne and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes before they formed TLC with Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and wrote the song “Waterfalls” with them in mind. FB
TLC’s songs “tended towards the lighter and funkier side, but ‘Waterfalls’ is a cautionary tale.” TB Marqueze Etheridge, who collaborated with Organized Noize on the track, knew T-Boz in school. She said “we always got kicked out of class together.” FB He based the song on experiences he observed others going through. The song tackled a variety of social issues, including illegal drug trade, promiscuity, and HIV/AIDS. Etheridge keyed in on waterfalls as a symbol for “how people chase intangible dreams with no thought of consequences.” SF He said, “it’s a dangerous force of nature. Just because everything looks good doesn’t mean it’s good for you.” FB
About.com’s Bill Lamb said the “slinky, gently insistent backing horns and guitar combine with smooth languide vocals to create an instant R&B classic.” WK Albumism’s Daryl McIntosh called it “a rare example of perfect production, poignant songwriting, and flawless vocal delivery.” WK Complex’s Christine Werthman said “it’s a heavy song, but the warnings in the verses are buoyed be a rich, singable chorus.” WK
First posted 2/11/2021; last updated 3/31/2023.