R&B Recycling / UK R&B / US R&B

R&B recycling #2: Adina Howard vs. Sugababes

By Melanie Henderson

Sometimes information can pass us by. You go through life knowing something to have been created by one person, but really it had been done before. Classic. The film or the book. The chicken or the egg. Erm, I think you get me.

Fact of life. People copy one another. Artists sing one another’s songs. Sometimes they sing them better. Sometimes they destroy them.

Today’s song of discussion is that of R&B song “Freak Like Me.” Originally released in 1995 by US R&B singer Adina Howard, the song is indeed a bit of a legend in the genre. It was also really the singer’s one true hit single.

Sex sells: Adina Howard's single cover for "Freak Like Me" in 1995.

Sex sells: Adina Howard’s single cover for “Freak Like Me” in 1995.

Good thing it was a hit too. Nine people wrote it. Nine. At least, that’s what Wikipedia tells us. Eugene Hanes, Marc Valentine, Loren Hill, William ‘Bootsy’ Collins, George Clinton Jr., Gary Lee Cooper, Alita Carter, Kim Spikes, Livio Harris came together to create this classic track. The four minute and thirteen second long song was recorded in 1994 on East West and Lola Waxx labels. Aside from the music itself, the song became famous for its music video directed by Hype Williams, due to its out-there sexy image. It is said to have been a groundbreaking moment for female R&B/Hip-Hop artists, as it moved away from the boystrous Hip-Hop image women had acquired in the 1980s and took things a step further with sexy dancing from the demure, ultra-feminine days of Diana Ross in the 1970s. Movement was very much more leaning toward the bump n’ grind and blatent sexual moves in music videos. Freak Like Me itself was relatively light in terms of Howard’s sexual image and how it was portrayed. Later videos from the same album “Do You Wanna Ride” were indeed far racier. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsEgF1aKCSM In terms of the lyrics, there’s not much to the song really.

Let me lay it on the line I got a little freakiness inside And you know that the man Has got to deal with it I don’t care what they say I’m not about to pay nobody’s way ‘Cause it’s all about the dog in me Mm-hmm Chorus (1) I want to freak in the morning A freak in the evening just like me I need a roughneck brother That can satisfy me just for me If you are that kind of man ‘cuz i’m that kind of girl I got a freaky secret,everybody sing ’cause we don’t give a damn about a thing Chorus (2) Cause I will be a freak until the day until the dawn and we can pump, pump all through the night till the early morn come on and I will take you around the ‘hood on a gangsta lean ’cause we can pump, pump any time of day it’s all good for me Boy, you’re moving kind of slow You got to keep it up Now there you go There’s just one thing that a man must do Mm-hmm I’m packing all the flavor you need I got you shook up on your knees ’cause it’s all about the dog in me…

Easy enough to understand. I was introduced to the track in 2002, when the young UK R&B/Pop trio Sugababes released the song off their second album “Angels With Dirty Faces.” Yes, I am young. Hehe. Keisha, Mutya and Heidi rocked the song, with not much detail changed, bar a more electronic feel to song and a slower beat. Soundwise, the song was softened slightly in comparison to its original version, which was probably due to the fact that the girls were teenagers still when they recorded it. That said, it was a huge hit at the time, topping the UK and the US charts, helping to propel the Sugababes into the US market, something often thought impossible for UK acts, particularly in the realm of R&B. Far, far away from Williams’ video — the Sugababes version takes you on a journey of the UK’s blurry and dreary clubbing scene, moving the three singers through different scenes of probably drug-riddled dancing. Not quite sure what they were trying to get at between the lyrics and the images, but then again no-one listens to the lyrics of songs anyway… or do they? Thanks for reading, we’ll be back soon with more R&B recycling. 🙂 — If you would like to know more about these artists, check out their sites — the Sugababes released a new album last year and are now called Mutya, Keisha, Siobhan. http://www.mutyakeishasiobhan.com/ Adina’s still about these days — as in, she wasn’t destroyed by the industry, thank God — she’s 39 now and is still singing (hooray!) and doing different bits and pieces. If you would like to read more about here in general, check out her website: http://www.adinahoward.com/. Catch us on social media: https://www.facebook.com/TheMusicStopBlog @TheMusic_Stop on Twitter. Email your comments to themusicstopblog@gmail.com

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