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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Jumpin' Kris Kross

Well?  What do you think? 

As promised, I did mention that the site would be getting a complete overhaul this weekend, and as you can see, the site renovation is complete, and just six days ahead of schedule for the blog's third anniversary!

Well, okay, I have a confession to make.  I did plan to time this renovation for the eighteenth anyways.  I figure that since I'm turning another year older today that it was time for a fresh new beginning.  The renovation of the blog was just the first step.  I'm looking at 33 as being a transitional year.  Here's hoping that I can make it that way.  Of course, we never know what the future will hold.  All we can do is take things one day at a time.

Now, on with the subject of today's Sunday Jukebox.  Today is the day that I take a look back in time through the various songs that hit #1 on my birthday.  Won't that be fun!

The problem is...I can't do the blog on the #1 song the exact day I was born.  I already did a piece on Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes" when this blog was first started.  Too bad too.  It would have been a great song to feature.

Hmmm...maybe if I post the other 33 songs that hit #1 on my birthday, I'll be inspired to come up with the right song to discuss.  Surely there must be some song that I like enough to feature on this page.

I've already revealed the #1 song for May 18, 1981, so let's start off with 1982 and go from there...

1983 - Beat It - MICHAEL JACKSON
1984 - Hello - LIONEL RICHIE
1985 - Don't You (Forget About Me) - SIMPLE MINDS
1986 - Greatest Love Of All - WHITNEY HOUSTON
1987 - With Or Without You - U2
1989 - Forever Your Girl - PAULA ABDUL
1990 - Vogue - MADONNA
1991 - I Like The Way (The Kissing Game) - HI-FIVE
1992 - Jump - KRIS KROSS
1993 - That's The Way Love Goes - JANET JACKSON
1994 - The Sign - ACE OF BASE
1995 - This Is How We Do It - MONTELL JORDAN
1996 - Tha Crossroads - BONE THUGS-n-HARMONY
1997 - Hypnotize - THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.
1998 - Too Close - NEXT
1999 - Livin' La Vida Loca - RICKY MARTIN
2000 - Maria Maria - SANTANA
2001 - All For You - JANET JACKSON
2002 - Foolish - ASHANTI
2003 - Get Busy - SEAN PAUL
2004 - Yeah! - USHER
2005 - Hollaback Girl - GWEN STEFANI
2006 - SOS - RIHANNA
2007 - Makes Me Wonder - MAROON 5
2008 - Bleeding Love - LEONA LEWIS
2009 - Boom Boom Pow - BLACK EYED PEAS
2010 - OMG - USHER f.
2012 - Somebody That I Used To Know - GOTYE f. KIMBRA
2013 - Can't Hold Us - MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS
2014 - All Of Me - JOHN LEGEND

Well, right off the bat, I can eliminate the songs from 1982, 1985, 1986, 1990, and 1994.  I already did blogs on all of those songs already.  And, I'm going to just put it out there.  Many of these songs (particularly the ones released after 1995) are ones that I am not a fan of.  And, besides, 1995 was considered to be my worst birthday ever with two-fifths of my family being hospitalized due to surgery, so I really don't want to talk about that year.

So, you know...I came up with an idea.  Why don't I just pick the birthday that I remember the most and just go from there.  And, in fact, I can tell you exactly what it was.

It would be birthday that would take us to the year 1992.  For starters, my birthday fell on a Monday, which in Canada meant no school! (In Canada there's a holiday called "Victoria Day" which occurs on the Monday during the week of May 18-24, and every time my birthday falls on a Monday, I miss school).  But did you know that my whole fifth grade class actually got together to throw me a surprise party?  Believe it or not, it really did happen!  It's also one of the reasons why I have more fond memories of elementary school than I do high school.  It's hard for me to explain who came up with the idea for the party, and I don't know how they pulled it off...but it was a really kind gesture for all of the kids to get together to help me ring in birthday #11!  I never forgot that.  And, even though I haven't seen some of those kids in years, and even though some of the kids didn't quite get along with certainly is a memory that I don't think I'll ever forget. 

(It also remains the only time that I remember ever having a surprise party thrown for me.  But hey, one birthday out of thirty-three isn't that bad of a track record.)

So, let's go back in time twenty-two years to the time in which my eleventh birthday took place, and see what the story is behind this #1 hit.

ARTIST:  Kris Kross
SONG:  Jump
ALBUM:  Totally Krossed Out
DATE RELEASED:  February 6, 1992

Wow!  Kris Kross!  Remember them?  When I was in sixth grade, they were all over the radio!  And would you believe that "Jump" was their very first hit and that it stayed at the top of the charts for two months before being dethroned by Mariah Carey's "I'll Be There" in June 1992?  That's quite an impressive feat!

But not nearly as impressive as the fact that when Kris Kross were first hitting the music scene, the two members were only twelve and thirteen!

The story behind Kris Kross goes like this.  The two members of Kris Kross (Chris "Mac Daddy" Kelly and Chris "Daddy Mac" Smith) were discovered at an Atlanta shopping mall by then 19-year-old Jermaine Dupri in 1991.  At the time, Kelly was thirteen and Smith was just twelve.  Their voices had not yet hit puberty at the time, and yet, both of them were signed to Ruffhouse Records in early 1992.

The name Kris Kross was chosen as the duo's name for a number of reasons.  For one, both members of the band were named Chris, so that was a given that they would use their name in some format.  As for why they adopted the letter K instead of a C for their name, I'm not sure exactly what the reason was behind it.  But, I suppose that I can only speculate that they did it to distinguish themselves from singer Christopher Cross, who had several hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s with "Think of Laura", "Ride Like The Wind", and "Sailing".

Oh, and one other thing that the duo did that separated themselves from the mainstream involved their fashion.  Not only were their clothing items on the baggy side, but they also opted to wear them completely backwards as well.  I suppose that adds another dimension to the "Kris Kross" name, as the duo wore their clothes the opposite way of how most people did.  Personally, I don't know how people could wear their jeans backwards.  Wouldn't it be a heck of a time trying to get the zipper to go up?

Oh, well...I suppose wearing your jeans backwards is only ever so slightly better than wearing your pants down so low, people can actually see the button that is clasping the fly on your boxer shorts together.  But only slightly.

Anyway, let's talk about the single "Jump", which spent an astounding total of eight weeks on the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1992.  When it was released, it became the fastest selling single since 1977 to hit the music stores, and was the first song to spend eight consecutive weeks at the top of the charts in nine years.  Of course, Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey would double that run in late 1995 with their single "One Sweet Day", but back in 1992, it was a big deal.

I should also note that this song kept some other established groups from reaching the Top 40.  En Vogue's "My Lovin' (Never Gonna Get It)" and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under The Bridge" only made it to #2 because of the success of the Kris Kross song.

(Which to me was sort of a shame as having a Red Hot Chili Peppers song hit the top of the charts on your birthday would have been the absolute pinnacle of awesomeness.  But hey, I admit I liked Kris Kross back in the day.)

Of course, the song wasn't without some minor controversy as well.  When Kris Kross first came out, they had a bit of feud going on with another rap group, "Another Bad Creation", and the initial pressing of the "Jump" single contained a sample of the "Another Bad Creation" single "Playground", which was a hit in 1991.  The song played, then you heard a scratching song, and then the song "Jump" played in full.  But this pressing didn't last too long, as the duo had to get rid of the "Playground" sample due to charges of copyright infringement.

Even so, the song still managed to sell a total of over two million copies, making it third best-selling song of 1992.  Not bad for a couple of kids.  They certainly achieved more than I did when I was twelve/thirteen.  At that age, I considered it a huge feat to completely beat "Final Fantasy VI" in a time of just under forty-eight hours!

One final note to add about this song.  As you know, the song hit the top of the charts in the United States.  But it also topped the charts in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Switzerland.  And when the end of the decade charts were published for the 1990s, it was the twenty-third most successful song of the entire decade according to Billboard. 

After the success of "Jump", it earned the duo enough credibility to tour with Michael Jackson on his 1992 "Dangerous" tour, and they made cameo appearances in a Michael Jackson music video, as well as in videos released by TLC and Run-D.M.C.  They even had another Top 20 hit in 1992 with the single "Warm it Up", a third Top 20 hit a year later with "Alright", and a fourth Top 20 hit with "Tonite's The Night" in 1995. 

However, by 1996, Kris Kross had decided that enough was enough, and the two members of the band went their separate ways shortly after their third album was released.  Of course, by then both members of Kris Kross were almost eighteen, and it was only natural that they would want to try doing things on their own.  But after trying their hands at solo careers, the two members did reunite for a twentieth anniversary celebration for So So Def Recordings - a company owned by the very man who discovered Kris Kross, Jermaine Dupri.

Sadly, that concert, which was held on February 23, 2013 would be the final time in which Chris Kelly and Chris Smith would perform together.  Less than three months later, on May 1, 2013, Chris Kelly was found in his Atlanta home unconscious.  Despite efforts to save his life, Kelly died in an Atlanta hospital later that afternoon.  

Chris Kelly was only 34 years old.  The cause of death was linked to drug abuse. 

The day after Kelly died, Jermaine Dupri paid tribute to Kelly on his Twitter page, referring to Kelly as the son that he never had.  And Chris Smith - who had been friends with Kelly since they were in the first grade - was equally devastated.

But you know, even though one-half of Kris Kross is now gone, it's nice to know that the group still lives on in some manner.  Of course, "Jump" forever has a place in rap music history, but Kris Kross also inspired other hip hop and new jack swing artists find their way onto the charts.  I also believe that Kris Kross was one of the many groups that changed the way that music was presented during the 1990s.  I can honestly say that I'm still a fan of early 1990s hip hop and new jack swing music, largely because of the presence of Kris Kross on the charts.

And, hey...that song was #1 during one of my favourite birthdays ever.  How can I not love it?

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