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'90s Survivor: 1996 - Winner Announced!


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Writers: Alanis Morissette, Glen Ballard

Producer: Glen Ballard

Label: Maverick, Warner Bros.

Rounding out the Top 5 is alternative rock icon Alanis Morissette whose smash hit 'Ironic' places fifth for 1996. The most pop-rock of all songs on the groundbreaking Jagged Little Pill, 'Ironic' served as the album's third single in early 1996 and quickly became her highest charting hit in the US, peaking at No. 4 on the Hot 100. As Andy pointed out, the song's usage of the word "ironic" has attracted attention over the years for an improper application of the term. According to the Oxford English Dictionary "irony" is "a figure of speech in which the intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the words used". Thus, lyrics such as "It's like rain on your wedding day" and "A traffic jam when you're already late" are not ironic. Morissette has said: "For me the great debate on whether what I was saying in 'Ironic' was ironic wasn't a traumatic debate. I'd always embraced the fact that every once in a while I'd be the malapropism queen. And when Glen and I were writing it, we definitely were not doggedly making sure that everything was technically ironic". Comedian Ed Byrne performed a skit in which he jokingly attacked the song for its lack of ironies: "The only ironic thing about that song is it's called 'Ironic' and it's written by a woman who doesn't know what irony is. That's quite ironic." Thankfully the song is also memorable for other reasons, notably its fun-filled music video. Directed by French photographer Stéphane Sednaoui, (the man behind such other classic '90s videos as 'Big Time Sensuality' by Björk, 'Today' by Smashing Pumpkins and 'Give It Away' by Red Hot Chili Peppers), 'Ironic' plays out as four different Alanis Morissettes hit the road for a winter's drive. It went on to garner six VMA nominations in 1996, winning three including Best Female Video. The following year 'Ironic' was up for Record of the Year at the Grammys, however lost to Eric Clapton's 'Change The World'. The song and its parent album inspired a wave of angsty female singer-songwriters trying their best to emulate Morissette's success, however none caught lightning in a bottle the way Jagged Little Pill did. 'Ironic' was a No. 1 in her native Canada, whilst reaching No. 3 in Australia and New Zealand, and No. 11 in the UK.

And so we have reached our final four! They are...

Always Be My Baby - Mariah Carey

Don't Let Go (Love) - En Vogue

Sittin' Up In My Room - Brandy

Un-Break My Heart - Toni Braxton

PM your vote for the winner now, and may the best song win! :D

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I have fond memories of listening to "Ironic" in English class, and we would dissect each lyric lol. It's still a great song though.

And loving the top 4! All amazing songs by talented ladies of R&B B)

mmm hmm and yet you helped vote it off :umm:
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The votes have been tallied!

In 4th place...


Writer: Diane Warren

Producer: David Foster

Label: LaFace

Toni Braxton marks her second entry in our Top 10 as 'Un-Break My Heart' takes fourth place for 1996. Although a much-loved ballad among fans, Braxton herself expressed a dislike for the song, even claiming she hated it during her episode of Behind The Music. Thankfully L.A. Reid was able to convince her to record it and have it be the second single lifted from Secrets. 'Un-Break My Heart' placed No. 1 on Billboard's year-end chart and was the first Diane Warren song to be the top hit of the year. Her previous best was 'Look Away', the No. 4 title of 1988 for Chicago. When Warren brought the demo to Arista president Clive Davis, she didn't have an artist in mind. She wasn't so much pitching the song as asking Clive's opinion. On first listen, Davis tagged Warren's composition for Braxton and Warren quickly agreed. When producer David Foster played the demo for Babyface, he told him that the demo was in a low key but he would raise it for Braxton. Babyface protested, but Foster said it was almost in a man's key. "No, it'll be great," Babyface insisted. "It'll be really sexy." The song topped the Hot 100 for 11 weeks. Tyson Beckford played Braxton's love interest in the song's dramatic video, directed by frequent partner Billie Woodruff. The song was a massive success worldwide, topping the charts in Austria, Belgium & Sweden, whilst reaching No. 2 in the UK & Canada, and No. 6 in Australia. It won the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 1997 awards.

Voted for by: JoeJoe

In 3rd place...


Writers: Andrea Martin, Ivan Matias, Marqueze Ethridge

Producer: Organized Noize

Label: Eastwest

Placing third is En Vogue with their incredible 'Don't Let Go (Love)'. The group's last single to feature lead vocals from Dawn Robinson, 'Don't Let Go (Love)' ended up being En Vogue's biggest hit. The song became the group's third track to peak at No. 2 on the Hot 100, after debut single 'Hold On' and 1992's 'My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)', and marks the last time En Vogue entered the Top 10. Originally recorded for 1996 crime-thriller Set It Off, the song compelled Elektra mogul Sylvia Rhone to place En Vogue back in the studio to record EV3 for release in 1997. However, Dawn Robinson felt a solo career was not feasible while she was still a member of En Vogue. Forced to choose, Robinson decided to leave the group for a solo career with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records. The turn of events following the success of 'Don't Let Go (Love)' was the beginning of a long and tumultuous era for En Vogue as member changes became quite frequent. The track's video features actor Mekhi Phifer as a suave lothario who has been dating all four members of the group behind their backs. The song is En Vogue's most successful worldwide, reaching No. 1 in Denmark and Norway, No. 3 in Australia and No. 5 in the UK. 'Don't Let Go (Love)' was nominated for the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Grammy in 1997, however lost to the Fugees with 'Killing Me Softly'.

Voted for by: jarrylf, TwistedElegance

In 2nd place...


Writer: Babyface

Producer: Babyface

Label: LaFace

Brandy is this round's runner up as 'Sittin' Up In My Room' comes a close second for 1996. The second single lifted from the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack, 'Sittin' Up In My Room' reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 as well as the R&B chart. Of the song, Babyface says: "I was at a studio working with Forest Whitaker on a project so I ended up writing 'Sittin' up in My Room' there. I did the demo at a house I had in LA… Brandy came over and we put down the idea. It was amazing how quick she did it." 'Sittin' Up in My Room' was performed on several television and award show ceremonies, such as Late Show with David Letterman, the 23rd Annual American Music Awards, the 1996 Soul Train Awards and the 39th Annual Grammy Awards. In the video, Brandy is swimming in thoughts of a guy, keeping herself penned up in a very trippy retro, cartoonish room after her friend told her that her love interest is joining the party which is going on downstairs. Actor Donald Faison played her love interest in the music video, again directed by Hype Williams.

Voted for by: vibeology, Selz, Escapade, Illi, Reyna

And in 1st place...


Writers: Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal Jr.

Producers: Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal Jr.

Label: Columbia

Finally, having finished in the Top 10 every round so far Mariah Carey nabs first place for 1996 with 'Always Be My Baby'. After debuting on the Hot 100 in second place (the first track in history to do so), 'Always Be My Baby' climbed a spot higher to rule the chart for 2 weeks in the first half of the year. This saw Carey tie with fellow powerhouses Whitney Houston and Madonna for most No. 1 singles by a female artist, with 11. It was a record she would soon pass. In an interview with Fred Bronson, Carey discussed the process it took to write and produce the song: "Jermaine, Manuel and I sat down and Jermaine programmed the drums. I told him the feel I wanted and Manuel put his hands on the keyboards and I started singing the melody. We went back and forth with the bridge and the B-section. I had the outline of the lyrics and started singing 'Always be my baby' off the top of my head." Like producers before him, Dupri commended Carey's vocal abilities, "She can pretty much do anything with her voice." Another musical craft the song featured was the inclusion of heavy background vocals of her lower registers, with Carey then belting and singing the higher notes over her background vocals and melody, creating a "double voice effect." When discussing the technique used in the background vocals, Carey said: "The background vocals are an important part of the picture for me. That's why I like to do them myself a lot of the time, or initially I'll lay down the tracks. I'll double my voice or do a couple of tracks of my own voice. It's easy for me to match my voice. And then if I'm going to use other background singers, I'll let them go on top of mine." The song garnered positive reviews by critics. Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly complimented the song's "relaxed swing" and felt its instrumentation helped make it a standout from the album. Internationally the song was a No. 1 hit in Canada, whilst reaching No. 3 in the UK, No. 5 in New Zealand, and No. 17 in Australia. It was nominated for the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammy, however lost to Anita Baker's 'I Apologize'.

Voted for by: RedSimba, Bu, HollyHood, Janet4life, Game, T.C

As always, a big thank you to everybody for playing. Another great round! :D

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