Where Are They Now? Pop’s Class of 1990
Nobody realized it at the time, but 1990 marked the end of a long musical era. The rock world was still ruled by the likes of Motley Crue and Poison, while the biggest rappers were Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. Nobody knew that grunge and gangsta rap were about to hit and completely change the game. It was the year of the New Kids On The Block, Paula Abdul and Warrant's "Cherry Pie." This would all seem hopelessly dated in just a few short months – but at the time, people were living like the 1980s would never end. Click through to catch up on ten acts who ruled the charts in 1990 and find out what they're up to these days.
By Andy Greene
Then: Few people will admit today to having been a fan, but for about six months in late 1990 and early 1991, Vanilla Ice was stupefyingly popular. His major-label debut, To The Extreme, sold 11 million copies and was Number One for 16 weeks. It was so popular that Hollywood actually built a movie around him (1991's Cool As Ice) and gave him a role in the same year's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze. (Listening back to "Ninja Rap" today, it holds up better than most of the material on To The Extreme.)
Now: Young Robert Van Winkle made some big mistakes, most notably sampling Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" without permission and falsely claiming in interviews that he grew up in the ghetto. America quickly grew tired of Ice's schtick; he tried to reinvent himself as a rap-rock singer in the late 1990s, but it didn't really work. Reality TV has proven to be much more successful medium for the Ice man. The DIY Network has a medium-sized hit on their hands with The Vanilla Ice Project, in which he buys and flips homes in Florida.
Then: In 1990, Julia Roberts played a hooker with a heart of gold in Pretty Woman, and America fell in love. The movie made $463 million at the box office – and Swedish pop duo Roextte's soundtrack tune "It Must Have Been Love" became the year's fifth biggest song. The track was originally called "It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Heart)" and was a big hit in Sweden in 1987, but three years later, Roxette took out the holiday references and slightly re-worked it for the movie. They had many more hits around that time, including "The Look" and "Listen To Your Heart."
Now: If you live in America, you probably never heard a thing about Roxette after 1992 or so. They were one of many, many bands to disappear after the grunge revolution. In Europe, however, they have a devoted following and have continued to tour and release new albums. This past March they released their ninth studio LP Traveling, and this fall they're coming to America for a theater tour.
Then: In 1990, Canadian singer-songwriter Alannah Myles scored a humongous hit with "Black Velvet," a tribute to Elvis Presley. Songwriters David Tyson and Christopher Ward were inspired after seeing fans commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Presley's death at Graceland. The smoky-voiced singer seemed poised for a big career and won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female.
Now: Myles had a little success with her follow-up singles in Canada, but nothing connected across the border in the U.S. Myles kept recording anyway, and in 2005 she participated in the Eurovision Song Contest. Three years ago, she she cut a new version of "Black Velvet" and she continues to tour; while she has no dates scheduled at the moment, her website notes she is available for gigs.
Then: Taylor Dayne initially seemed like a poor man's Madonna, but a wave of of hit singles ("Tell It To My Heart," "Prove Your Love" and "Don't Rush Me") in the late 1980s briefly made her seem like a real player in the pop marketplace. In 1990, she went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Love Will Lead You Back," written by Dianne Warren.
Now: The hits dried up around 1993, but Dayne never stopped working. She's acted on television shows, a string of Broadway musicals and even a few movies. In more recent years, she's appeared on reality shows, including Gone Country and Rachel vs Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off, where she managed to beat Cheech Marin, Aaron Carter and Summer Sanders.
Then: Not long after the Beach Boys made a huge comeback with 1988's "Kokomo," Brian Wilson's daughters Carnie and Wendy teamed up with Chynna Phillips (daughter of John and Michelle Phillips from the Mamas and the Papas) and formed Wilson Phillips. The new group was an instant hit, with three singles from their first album ("Hold On," "Release Me" and "You're In Love") going to the top of the Billboard charts. They were on the cover of Rolling Stone and sold millions of records, though the experience was bittersweet for Carnie because she had to endure cruel barbs about her weight the whole time.
Now: Wilson Phillips imploded extremely quickly. Their second LP, 1992's Shadows and Light, failed to connect, and Chynna quit soon after to launch an ill-fated solo career. Carnie and Wendy carried on as The Wilsons, but their album was a complete bomb. In 2004, Chynna came to her senses and returned to the band. They've released two albums of covers, starred in a reality series, made a memorable appearance in Bridesmaids, and are now on a comeback tour.
Then: Four decades after Ricky Nelson became a teen sensation, his twin sons Matthew and Gunnar released their debut LP, After The Rain, under the moniker Nelson. (Coincidentally, this was the same exact time that rock & roll heirs Wilson Phillips blew up.) With Fabio-esque locks of flowing blonde hair and catchy tunes like "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection" and "After The Rain," the twins briefly became MTV mainstays.
Now: The Nelson brothers didn't release a follow-up to After The Rain for five years, largely due to a huge fight with their label about their musical direction. The music world underwent seismic changes during this period, and in 1995 the last thing anybody wanted was a new Nelson album. The boys went indie after that, and soon turned to country music. They've never come close to matching their early success, but they manage to work pretty steadily, and have even put together a tribute show to their father called Ricky Nelson Remembered.
Then: Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus were two young European singer-models, hungry for success, who agreed to be the public face of a group assembled by German producer Frank Farian. Studio musicians sang the songs, but Rob and Fab took the credit and lip-synced the music in videos and on the road. They infamously won 1990's Best New Artist Grammy, and their album Girl You Know It's True was a massive hit. Contrary to how the story is often presented, the moment when the backing tape of "Girl You Know It's True" jammed at a 1989 show in Connecticut did little to damage their career. The truth actually didn't surface until late 1990, which caused tremendous negative publicity. Fans sued the band demanding their money back, and the guys even had to return their Grammy.
Now: In 1992 Rob and Fab released an album featuring their actual singing voices, but nobody cared by that point, and it disappeared without a trace. Fab went on to record his own music and managed to pull his life together, but Rob had tremendous difficulty adjusting to life after fame. He was arrested for assault and robbery, and in 1998 he died of a drug and alcohol overdose. Rumors of a movie about Milli Vanilli have circulated for years, but it has yet to actually get made.
Bell Biv DeVoe
Then: New Edition took a hiatus in 1990, but group members Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe wanted to keep working together. So they formed Bell Biv Devoe – sort of like how the Tom Tom Club was created from inside Talking Heads – and released the New Jack Swing classic Poison in 1990. The title track and "Do Me!" were huge hits, but in 1993 the followed it up with Hootie Mack and failed to score another hit. They returned to the mothership of New Edition soon after that, as did Bobby Brown, who was having trouble with his own solo career at that point.
Now: Bell Biv DeVoe tried one more time in 2001 with their third album BBD, but by that point virtually nobody on the planet cared. It sank like a stone, and they once again focused their attention on New Edition projects. They haven't abandoned the catalog though, and at every New Edition show to this day they bust out "Poison" and Do Me!" They even played those two songs with The Roots on a 2011 episode of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
C+C Music Factory
Then: Milli Vanilli weren't the only musical act in 1990 caught up in a lip-syncing scandal. Dance group C+C Music Factory released "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" that year. The song featured Martha Wash (best known as the voice behind "It's Raining Men") on lead vocals, but in the video the part was lip-synced by Zelma Davis. Wash went public with her anger, and even sued the band for proper credit. The group scored another hit in 1991 with "Things That Make You Go Hmmm…," but their 1994 follow-up LP failed to match the success of the first album and they split two years later.
Now: Martha Wash remains a dance music icon, and has sung her anthem "It's Raining Men" at gay rights rallies all around the globe. A new line-up of C+C Music Factory formed in 2010, but they have yet to release anything beyond a few unsuccessful singles.
Then: By the late 1980s Tommy Shaw of Styx, Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Ted Nugent were all facing declining record sales, so they teamed up and formed supergroup Damn Yankees. Their 1990 power ballad "High Enough" became a huge hit, and they also scored with "Coming of Age" and "Come Again." The band's 1992 album Don't Tread didn't live up to expectations, and the three guys from Damn Yankees all returned to their day jobs.
Now: The band has reunited onstage to bust out "High Enough" on select occasions over the past few years, but despite their constant talk of a third Damn Yankees album, it has yet to materialize. Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades, however, have released two albums under the name Shaw Blades. Ted Nugent continues to be Ted Nugent, no matter how many people that pisses off.
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