Braxton Family Singles - Toni reigns supreme and Celine makes an appearance (winner revealed!) | Page 32 | The Popjustice Forum

Braxton Family Singles - Toni reigns supreme and Celine makes an appearance (winner revealed!)

Discussion in 'Charts, rates etc' started by londonrain, Feb 24, 2020.


Which of these rates should I run next?

  1. 1994-2011 Grammy nominees for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance

  2. Destiny's Child solo singles (Kelly/LeToya/LaTavia/Michelle/Farrah)

  3. En Vogue singles rate

  4. Monica singles rate

  5. Whitney Houston singles rate

  1. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    Oh, and two of the next three cuts have five 10s each and were in the top three at one point.

    Brace yourselves.
  2. Losing roller coaster was already hard now I’m just not prepared!
    vague and londonrain like this.
  3. Oh dear you voters did Tamar dirtier than the producers of The Real! How is Hot Sugar not still in the race.
    vague and londonrain like this.
  4. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    Well, it's the only official single from Love and War to have been eliminated, if that's any consolation...
    vague likes this.
  5. RainOnFire

    RainOnFire Staff Member

    Love, Marriage & Divorce is such a great album. I would've placed all three of its inclusions in the Top 20.
  6. How nice of Arista to really lay out some funding for the creative on this compilation.
  7. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    As it turns out, we don't actually have a #38...

    ...because there's a tie at #37.

    Let's take out the one with more 10s first, because... why not?

    37. (tie) I Don't Want To

    Toni: #32 of 46

    Average: 7.480
    Highest scores: 10 x 5 (@ComeOnGloria, @pop3blow2, @londonrain, @berserkboi, @Remorque), 9 x 2 (@soratami, @WowWowWowWow)
    Lowest scores: 3 x 1 (@A&E), 4.7 x 1 (@Epic Chocolat)
    My score: 10

    6 ballots: #11
    12 ballots: #13
    18 ballots: #25
    24 ballots: #34
    27 ballots: #37

    Not only does @berserkboi lose his first 10, we also say goodbye to our first song to have actually been in the top 20 for a decent amount of time. Even within the first six ballots it had a hell of a trajectory, being in the top two for the first three ballots and slipping to #4 after the fourth ballot, before @RainOnFire came along and lobbed a 5 at it, pushing it out of the top 10. I Don't Want To, Slow Flow and If You Don't Wanna Love Me were the three contenders for my 11 and they've now all left before the top 35... so you could say I have feelings about how the rate is going. This is the first eliminated song to have received five 10s, and yet it still wasn't enough for a higher position - and there's still a song with zero 10s in the running!

    I Don't Want To was released as the third single from Secrets in March 1997, a couple of weeks after Toni picked up two Grammy Awards for the first two singles from the album: Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Un-Break My Heart and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for You're Makin' Me High. Secrets was nominated for Best Pop Album, but lost to Celine Dion's Falling Into You, which also won Album of the Year, and You're Makin' Me High was also nominated for Best R&B Song but lost to Exhale (Shoop Shoop) by Whitney Houston.

    Following two platinum-certified Hot 100 #1s that had also just won Grammy Awards must have been quite an intimidating task to take on, and I Don't Want To is an interesting choice in that it lacks both the sultriness of You're Makin' Me High and the bombast of Un-Break My Heart. The thing I love about I Don't Want To is actually how simple it is as a ballad - it's the cry of a woman who is practically numb with heartbreak (and probably incipient depression) and has totally lost the will to do anything at all. Unfortunately, it's also completely written and produced by the ghastly R. Kelly - who, incidentally, has just been told for the third time that he can't use COVID-19 as an excuse to be released from jail awaiting trial on sex crime charges that could result in him spending the rest of his life in prison. (This isn't even the worst example of me liking his music and having to deal with how I feel about it. He also wrote I Look To You by Whitney Houston, which is the song I walked down the aisle to at my wedding. Then again, I also like Be My Baby by the Ronettes, which was produced and co-written by convicted murderer Phil Spector, so...)

    Toni was on tour for over a year promoting Secrets (starting in August 1996 and finishing in October 1997) so there wasn't tons of time for a music video to be shot for I Don't Want To - and no time at all for I Love Me Some Him, which was released as a double A-side with I Don't Want To in the US. Bille Woodruff, who had directed the videos for You're Makin' Me High and Un-Break My Heart, used a much simpler treatment for I Don't Want To, with Toni just walking around a house in a white tank top and blue jeans. The original draft of the video was a one-take treatment with Toni scrubbing her feet in the bathtub, but when the final version came out, MTV suggested that maybe they had had something to do with it:

    On top of all this, Toni says that it was around this time that she started to suspect her father was having an affair - something that culminated in Michael and Evelyn Braxton finally divorcing in 2000 after 34 years of marriage, having gotten married as teenagers. Michael went on to marry Wanda, the woman he was having an affair with, and the five sisters were never all in one room with Michael and Wanda until 2017, in a scene that was aired on Braxton Family Values:

    (Tamar going off on one about how Wanda was only invited to Tamar and Vince's wedding as a "plus one" is... unsurprising, I guess - especially since Toni's wedding to Keri Lewis in April 2001 was fraught because it was the first family function that Michael attended after the split, and before that Michael chose not to attend Trina's wedding because Wanda wasn't invited to it.)

    But back to I Don't Want To. It became Toni's third consecutive UK top 10 single, peaking at #9, but the double A-side of I Don't Want To and I Love Me Some Him failed replicate the previous singles' success Stateside, peaking at #19 and being certified gold but not reaching the platinum certification that the two previous singles had achieved.

    @WowWowWowWow (9) acknowledges LaFace's dilemma: '"I Don't Want To ... think about the record label meetings where they had to figure out what single would come after "Un-Break My Heart." This covers familiar enough ground without becoming 'Re-Un-Break My Heart.'"

    @berserkboi (10) really lost one of his favourite 10s first: "Contender for my 11 – everything Toni does amazingly in one song!"

    Finally, @pop3blow2 (10) stans a problematic fave: "I really love this one… it’s a fave Toni song for me. This is complicated a bit now, due to songwriter reasons… It’s really good, though. The lyrics, the melody, the production, and it’s one of my favorite vocals by her."

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
  8. Of course the first 10 I lose is one of my absolute favourites from Toni! I had no idea this was an R.Kelly song, and looking at your other (and mine too) faves @londonrain - I can completely understand the dilemma we go through when picking to listen to these songs now...
  9. God, remember the days when THE TONY RICH PROJECT could make you alter your video treatment?!
  10. invertedbutterfly

    invertedbutterfly Staff Member

    Not a song I particularly like, but I'd forgotten how pretty Toni looks in the video. It also reminds me just how much I stanned her for the first two albums.

    R Kelly is as you rightly say ghastly - but while I'd never listen to his music, I can't imagine ever stopping listening to, say, Aaliyah's Back & Forth. It's a complicated one, I think - and your example of the Ronettes is interesting, because I feel similarly about that - when it's a truly dreadful man writing and producing someone else, especially, in the case of Aaliyah or Ronnie Spector, someone who they abused - what is the ethical position on continuing to enjoy that music. I genuinely loathe the cliche of the male svengali puppeteer being responsible for a female artist and thereby completely denying their contribution and agency... But also, you can't ignore these dreadful men were involved, and there is still for me an ick factor... It's clearly a personal thing, and I suppose it comes down for me to when I listen to the Ronettes, I hear Ronnie's indefatigable spirit, and I think of her resiliance, and I think it becomes a celebration of that for me.

    Sorry, didn't mean to ramble on about this!
  11. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    Ramble away!

    I think it's always much easier to 'cancel' an artist who you never had any interest in anyway, but where someone like R. Kelly has had a much more behind-the-scenes role in so many iconic songs it's always weird to try and separate that from your love of how the artist happens to interpret the song. For me neither I Don't Want To nor I Look To You would be anywhere near as beloved by me without Toni and Whitney's vocals respectively, and to be honest I think I Don't Want To would be a really dull song if it weren't for the fact that Toni sells it in a way that most singers can only dream of.
  12. 'I Don't Want To' is certainly a top 10 Toni fave for me. So, of course, I think it deserved better here.

    I do struggle with enjoying many songs from the 90s/00s that R Kelly was involved with, but at the end the day some of the artists he worked with I really enjoy. So yeah, like @londonrain I don't always feel comfortable just not listening to the songs we wrote/produced for them, too. Still, I know that songwriters are financially rewarded when I play them, so it adds this weird cognitive layer of guilt to me sometimes. ugh.... Lot of layers in some of this shit and I know probably get it wrong sometimes.

    Anyways, 'I Don't Want To' was another song that got played many times a week the three years I worked in a department store in the 00s... and I never tired of it. Such a great reading of the lyric by Toni.
  13. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    In this highly competitive section of the rate...

    ...what's the unproblematic song that managed to match I Don't Want To and its five 10s?

    This one only received a single 10.

    37. (tie) Maybe (Radio Mix)

    Toni: #32 of 46

    Average: 7.480
    Highest scores: 10 x 1 (@Maria), 9 x 4 (@Ana Raquel, @abael, @Music Is Life, @japanbonustrack)
    Lowest scores: 4 x 2 (@Daniel_O, @Epic Chocolat), 5 x 1 (@ComeOnGloria)
    My score: 8

    6 ballots: #54
    12 ballots: #43
    18 ballots: #33
    24 ballots: #42
    27 ballots: #37

    It's been a long while since @Maria lost her first 10 (for Crazy Kind Of Love), and it's finally time for her to lose her second, as The Heat loses another single, leaving only Spanish Guitar and He Wasn't Man Enough remaining. If Rollercoaster had received 0.1 of a point more from a single voter, this would have been a three-way tie, and if Maybe had received 0.3 of a point more from a single voter, it would have been at #36 instead of #37.

    Between the end of the Secrets era in 1997 and the release of The Heat in 2000, a lot had happened in Toni's life: she'd sued her label for giving her far too little of the royalties she was due, filed for bankruptcy (of which more later), started dating Keirston "Keri" Lewis of Mint Condition, got pregnant (based on a single night's instance of using protection "but not quite the whole time") and got an abortion. Toni says that her official reason for getting the abortion was because she was in the middle of a six-month prescription for Accutane, a powerful anti-acne drug that can cause severe deformation in a foetus up to two years after the end of the prescription. But she felt incredibly guilty about doing it, in part because of her strict religious upbringing, and she felt like her real reasons were to do with it not being convenient to have the baby (she was in the middle of her starring role in the musical Beauty and the Beast and she was still quite early in her relationship with Keri), resulting in her feeling that she would be punished by God one day for taking a life.

    In 2000, Babyface and LA Reid sold their share of LaFace Records to BMG, resulting in Toni being transferred to BMG/Arista, with LA taking over from Clive Davis as CEO of Arista Records and Clive leaving to start J Records (which was also under the BMG umbrella and would get off to a hell of a start with its first release, Alicia Keys' multiplatinum debut album Songs In A Minor). This resulted in Babyface, who had played a key role in Toni's first two albums, taking a back seat on The Heat, producing and co-writing only two songs - Gimme Some (which featured Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes from TLC, the girl group who had been signed ahead of The Braxtons all those years ago) and Fairy Tale.

    Toni felt that BMG was a lot less invested in her for this era.
    She also talks about how she stopped being invited to BMG parties and being asked to sing at charity functions, and felt like there was a lot less enthusiasm about her music. It was around this time that Aaliyah's uncle Barry Hankerson became Toni's manager, which caused some friction with LA, who felt that Barry was doing things like sending her out to radio stations so that he could later call in favours from them for other artists such as his niece.

    But Toni was happy with the outcome of the album. She felt that a lot of The Heat was "more urban and upbeat" and that the lead single, He Wasn't Man Enough, had quite a different sound to her previous work. She also mentions Just Be A Man About It as an example of her adding a few slow heartbreak anthems "just so it could be called a Toni Braxton album". Although the album didn't sell as much as Toni's first two albums, it still sold over two million copies in the US, which she saw as "sweet redemption", proving that the world wasn't ready to shun her after all the headlines over the previous few years.

    The Heat was also nominated for Best R&B Album at the 2001 Grammy Awards - her first nomination in the category (her debut hadn't been nominated as an album, and Secrets had been nominated in the pop category). Although she lost this to D'Angelo's Voodoo (his second of three nominations in this category and the first of two wins), she did pick up her sixth Grammy at the ceremony - for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for He Wasn't Man Enough, giving her three wins out of four nominations in the category over the course of her career. There was a lot of buzz at the ceremony about the Richard Tyler-designed dress Toni wore, which covered quite a lot less than the average Grammy dress:


    At the time of the ceremony in February 2001, Toni had just released Maybe as The Heat's fourth single. The Heat had become Toni's first album to fail to produce multiple top 10 hits on the Hot 100, and after Just Be A Man About It, its second and third singles, peaked at #32 and #98 respectively, the era was quickly running out of steam.

    The video for Maybe was directed Chris Robinson (who would go on to direct multiple videos for Alicia Keys, Busta Rhymes, Monica, Ginuwine, Jay-Z and TI and who had already directed Mya's video for The Best Of Me) and took full advantage of the buzz around that dress, creating a scene where Toni came home from the Grammy ceremony and then started to strip while being watched by a peeping Tom (played by James C. Mathis III). Although a body double was used for the nude scenes, Toni revealed in an interview later that year (filmed for her DVD From Toni With Love: The Video Collection) that it wasn't the original treatment and she was uncomfortable with the idea of such an explicit video being aired, so she asked for it to be pulled. She included the opening minute and a half of the video on the DVD, which cuts off just as she takes off the dress.

    If you've listened to The Heat, you may have noticed that the version of the song in the video doesn't match what's on the album - and you'd be right. A remixed version of the song was sent to radio and released on the single, but without the support of a music video and coming so late in the album campaign, Maybe was doomed, and it failed to chart on the Hot 100 altogether and stalled at #74 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, only one place higher than Spanish Guitar (which until then had been her only entry on that chart to miss the top ten). It did, however, manage an #11 placing on the Dance Club Songs chart, becoming the third top 20 entry on that chart from the album (after He Wasn't Man Enough, which made it to #16, and Spanish Guitar, which became her fourth #1 on the chart).

    Toni went on to marry Keri Lewis in April 2001 and invited both her parents but refused to allow her mother to bring her new boyfriend and point blank refused to allow her father to bring his new wife, Wanda, even after he threatened not to come if she couldn't accompany him. As mentioned in the video I posted in the previous elimination, Michael Braxton Sr. turned up at the last minute for his daughter's wedding, and Toni had thought he wasn't coming - but in the meanwhile her mother was saying things like "Life is not a fairy tale" and "All men cheat". The result was that Toni describes herself as having been quite unhappy on her own wedding day, although she says, "The ceremony itself was perfect - as magical as I'd dreamed it would be." After the ceremony she told Keri that she had discovered she was pregnant. This time she felt that the news of her pregnancy "was the greatest gift I could've given either one of us - both on that day and for many, many years to come."

    What did you all say about Maybe?

    @Music Is Life (9) is here for the rapid-fire verses and smooth chorus: " I love the melody."

    @WowWowWowWow (6) thinks the whole thing was a mistake: "Maybe ... she should have left this one out of her discography."

    @pop3blow2 (7.8) isn't sure: "One of those songs where you really need the lyric sheet! Not sure her little syncopated delivery in places here works for me."

    @Angeleyes (5.5) thinks that the radio edit is a slight improvement: " I didn't know there was an R&B remix. I have a promo CD that has a "radio mix" but it's just the album version. If it were the Hex Hector mix, I'd have rated it higher. But I've never been a big fan of this song in general. I just don't find it interesting. I'll give it an extra .5 cause I like the beat better than the album version."

    @Euphoria (8) disagrees: "I prefer the album version, but it’s still a very strong song."

    You know what? Let's have a listen to the album version, the radio mix and the Hex Hector mix, and you can all decide for yourselves.

  14. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    A reminder:
    Clearly I was talking about I Don’t Want To and one other song - which is obviously not Maybe, which was never in contention for a placing that high.

    What other song could have got five tens and been in the top three before falling almost out of the top 40?

    Clue: it’s a top 40 single. (And you already know it’s not a remix.)
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
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  15. I love Maybe. Sad to see it go but at least it made the top 40!
    vague, berserkboi and londonrain like this.
  16. Well. I can see myself cutting away from new songs if it is the case with a problematic artist. But when it also thrives on deep emotion like with Michael Jackson or now recently Lana Del Rey I am not ready to let go and possibly never will. R. Kelly is however different as I lack that emotional connection so he was easy to block.

    But things get really blurry indeed when you are strict in not listening to problematic artists if they are part of songwriting or production. I feel like there is line drawn there om this forum. Imagine all the massive bop from mostly big pop girls that would be cancelled alltogether simply because of Dr. Luke was involved in the process. That would be not able to work around. However new songs by Dr. Luke seem to get a lot of flack. So there for many forum members the same applies there as I have with emotional connection and nostalgia. If you are already familiar it is too tough to let go.
  17. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    Agreed. I'm grateful that a lot of the stuff I have that was written by people like R. Kelly is on CD and ripped to my phone, so I can listen to it without feeling like I'm giving him additional money every time I listen.

    I remember in 2009 the X Factor UK finalists released a cover of You Are Not Alone in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital, which is a children's hospital in London. This is You Are Not Alone, the song which was written by R. Kelly and performed by Michael Jackson.

    Of all the songs they could have covered, they chose that one?! And there was zero outcry about this at the time.
  18. I didn't know that he wrote You Are Not Alone.
  19. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    I just... did NOBODY stop at any point and go "Hey, maybe the double whammy of Michael Jackson and R. Kelly is a bit much for a song raising money for a children's hospital?"
  20. Yeah sometimes these decisions are off. The posthumous release Xscape from Michael Jackson when the allegations against him became very likely they still and went to release this song from the vault:

    "Do You Know Where Your Children Are?" At least you could have changed the title. But this only seems to be added on Xscape to spark controversy around the release. Which then not really happened.
    vague, WowWowWowWow and londonrain like this.
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