Braxton Family Singles - Toni reigns supreme and Celine makes an appearance (winner revealed!) | Page 37 | 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. So sorry. It has been a crazy time lately. Let me push this back to page 1.

    Can't say I am that pressed about the songs going. Especially glad my 11 is hanging on.
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  2. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    Sis, you literally just lost a 9.5 and you’re not pressed about it?
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  3. I guess the atrocities in several other rates have really numbed me out. Obviously Trippin' deserved so much better. But I lost some 4's so I guess you win some, you lose some. Watch me start trippin' if many faves leave in succession.
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  4. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    Trippin’ is the first of a series of five 9+ songs to leave for me, which I have... feelings about.
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  5. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    Time to get back to a faster pace of eliminations.

    This time we're knocking out the last remaining single from an album.

    Somebody also loses their second 10...

    27. Hurt You

    Toni: #22 of 46

    Average: 7.687
    Highest scores: 10 x 1 (@vague), 9.5 x 2 (@japanbonustrack, @londonrain)
    Lowest scores: 5 x 1 (@Daniel_O), 5.4 x 1 (@Epic Chocolat)
    My score: 9.5

    6 ballots: #10
    12 ballots: #26
    18 ballots: #29
    24 ballots: #32
    27 ballots: #27

    Early signs that this was on track for the top ten turned out to be misleading, as it settled quickly into the lower reaches of the top 30 and was only rescued at the last minute from falling out of the top 30 altogether. @vague finally loses another 10, after remaining unscathed since The Makings Of You left at #59.

    I've mentioned before that Hurt You was the first single Toni released after being convinced not to retire from music, and the collaboration with Babyface proved fruitful, with Hurt You spending 41 weeks on the Adult R&B Songs chart, with four of those weeks spent at #1. The song also peaked at #16 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and #13 on Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (essentially #113 on the Hot 100).

    Toni credits Babyface for helping her win the bankruptcy case she fought against Arista and LaFace after Secrets. LA Reid and Babyface had parted ways professionally, which made things tense for Toni, and meanwhile her boyfriend Curtis was saying things like "You're going through this bankruptcy because God wants you to get back with Him. He wants you to let go of all these materialistic things." and insisting that they shouldn't touch each other below the neck. (This restriction on physical touch is also possibly why the famous Vibe interview features Toni saying that she's going to wait until marriage before having sex again.) A couple of months after she filed for bankruptcy, Curtis said, "Jesus told me we had to break up," and when she tried to press for a reason, he kept saying "God told me that we shouldn't be together any more." So it must have come as a welcome relief when, towards the end of the bankruptcy proceedings, Babyface was asked by the judge, "You're an artist. If you were offered the amount of money that Toni was offered, would you have taken it?" and he replied "No I wouldn't." Toni says that LA gave him "the look of death", but she says she'll "always love him for telling the truth in spite of his situation", and credits that statement for helping her to get a settlement with Arista and LaFace in January 1999. This gave her $20 million, which enabled her to buy back her Grammys, designer dresses and other valuables, but because of a confidentiality agreement she had to remain silent about the amount for ten years.

    After Toni's second bankruptcy and her decision to retire from music, Babyface told Toni, "You're just going through a hard time. You're angry about your life. You're angry about some of the choices you made. You've gotta work through that - but you can't let it stop you from recording."

    Babyface wrote the hook for Hurt You but Toni wasn't happy with some of the lyrics and melodies, so she changed it up and came up with some of her own. One of the things she added was the line "Loving you causes so much pain" (sung by Babyface in the first verse), which she explained to him by saying "Have you ever been in love with a person, and you try to love him, but no matter what you give him, you can never make him happy - so it makes you feel pain?" Toni's explanation for this was specifically that it's often women who pay the bills in working-class families, with plenty of them earning more than the men in their families. When Babyface protested that this was a small percentage of situations, Toni said, "Kenny, you live in Bel Air. Once you get out of your neighborhood, there's a greater percentage of people who are in exactly that situation."

    I've seen Toni perform this live, and she actually brought someone up from the audience to sing Babyface's bit. Fortunately he could sing, but that's a tall order for a random fan!

    @Sprockrooster (8) is here for it: "This actually aged better than expected."

    @WowWowWowWow (7) brings up LA Reid and his ex-wife, who divorced in 1996 after helping launch Toni's career: "That's all fine and well, Kenneth, but LA Reid and Pebbles really need to be singing a song like this too..."

    Finally, @Music Is Life (9) gives some slightly confusing praise: "Ooo this is kind of a bop."

  6. RainOnFire

    RainOnFire Staff Member


  7. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    You gave Trippin’ a 5.5, sis, so you were due to have a high score leave as well x
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  8. I suddenly stan Babyface
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  9. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

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  10. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    @RainOnFire has been complaining a lot about losing his faves lately...

 let's give him a break.

    A couple of other voters will not be pleased that we're cutting another one of their 10s, though.

    Still, at least we know our R&B icons around here.



    26. Good Life
    The Braxtons: #2 of 6

    Average: 7.787
    Highest scores: 10 x 2 (@Sprockrooster, @Remorque), 9.5 x 1 (@Oleander)
    Lowest scores: 5 x 3 (@Euphoria, @Angeleyes, @Daniel_O), 5.5 x 1 (@RainOnFire)
    My score: 9

    6 ballots: #20
    12 ballots: #22
    18 ballots: #36
    24 ballots: #26
    27 ballots: #26

    And at long last we lose the last remaining track to include Traci Braxton, who (as I mentioned earlier) was cut from the group due to her pregnancy when Atlantic signed them and released So Many Ways. This also means that the last remaining song in the rate by The Braxtons is now cover of The Boss.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see Good Life do well, considering that it's probably the least well-known single by The Braxtons, having stalled at #79 on the R&B chart (then known as Hot Black Singles) and failed to chart on the Hot 100 altogether.

    After hours of rehearsal week after week under the tutelage of their mother Evelyn, the Braxtons were auditioning all over the place to try and get a gospel album deal, with Trina as the lead singer... but it was Toni who was first discovered by a record producer, and Bill Pettaway, the producer who discovered her, introduced her to Ky Adeyemo and Ernesto Phillips of the eighties R&B group Starpoint, who had had a number of mid-tier hits on the R&B chart and crossed over to the Hot 100 with three of their singles, including the #25 single Object Of My Desire. Toni's parents were relatively relaxed about Toni working with Ernesto as her father had met his father, a chief of psychiatry at Crownsville Hospital. When Ernesto asked Toni who her background singers would be, Toni suggested her sisters. He said, "Those little girls - they can sing that well?"

    A couple of weeks later, the five sisters sang If You're Happy And You Know It to Ernesto in their living room. His reaction was to say "I haven't heard talent like this since the Jackson Five. I could sign all of you guys tomorrow!" - and he did, in the summer of 1988. However, Toni points out, "I was a twenty-one-year-old with a mature voice that was thick as a milkshake - and little Tamar, just eleven then, still had the high-pitched vocal range of a preadolescent." This made the group difficult to market, and Ernesto tried his best to write music that included all five voices but would also be age-appropriate for the younger members so that Evelyn wouldn't react badly. On Good Life (which Ernesto co-wrote, produced and did the vocal arrangements for), Ernesto recorded Michael Braxton Sr. reciting The Lord's Prayer at the church where he was a preacher and added it to the song, and a rap section was also recorded by Kevin Liles (part of the group Numarx, who originally recorded Girl You Know It's True, which went on to be a hit for Milli Vanilli).

    The demo of Good Life was then sent off to Warner Bros. Records and Arista Records, and Starpoint's connection with Arista act Milli Vanilli meant that Ernesto could use his connections to make sure the demo got heard there. The girls were invited to perform to fly to New York City and perform for the Arista execs, and they also met Warner Bros. Records. Arista offered them a singles deal for Good Life in autumn 1989. Good Life was finally released to radio a year later, in September 1990, but Toni says she instantly knew it wasn't a hit when she heard it on the radio, because it didn't blend well with the other songs being played. Her reasoning is that every song sounds like a hit on the studio speakers, but "when you've truly got a hit, it sounds like one even through a car's small radio speakers."

    The failure of Good Life and Arista's problem with marketing a group with such a large age range prompted Clive Davis (the then head of Arista) to encourage LA Reid and Babyface to invite them to audition for them. This resulted in them offering Toni a solo deal... and the rest is history.

    Of course, Braxton Family Values has since reintroduced us to the Braxtons' vocals, including such bonkers gems as... The Baby Daddy Song:

    @WowWowWowWow (8.5) started the playlist with a rate discovery: "A pleasant surprise to start things off."

    @Epic Chocolat (8) sees what they did here: "Slick new jack jam."

    @Music Is Life (9) brings up the highlight of the song: "I like the a cappella beginning."

    @Holly Something (8) is succinct: "She's cute."

    @Angeleyes (5) is more ambivalent: "Generic, but good for a lead. Could you imagine how different the 90s would've been had they taken off as a group with this song and Toni didn't go solo?"

    @pop3blow2 (9) brings up that R&B chart position: "A complete bop that deserved better than #79 on the charts."

    Finally, @Sprockrooster (10) stans quality: "Ooh my... the pristine vocals. This is actually a debut single. Wow... the talent."

    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  11. #26 isn't a bad showing for this, but I wouldn't have been upset with it sticking around longer. A nice little debut single, with pretty perfect late 80s/early 90s energy.
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  12. Did I lie.gif
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  13. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    The version I linked for the rate is the single edit on Spotify, which appears on The Essential Toni Braxton (the only time a Braxton album has included the song) but it doesn't include the rap section, which only appears on the Extended Remix:

    (The timing of the repeated intro from 5:21 to 5:52 just upsets me. What was that?)

    The maxi-single included both versions of the song, as well as the B-side Family, which I posted about before the eliminations started.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
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  14. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    Into the top 25 we go.

    We're back to Toni this time, and this is the last elimination before we get to her personal top 20.

    It's bad news for the bop-lovers...

    25. Make My Heart

    Toni: #21 of 46

    Average: 7.800
    Highest scores: 10 x 2 (@Ana Raquel, @Remorque), 9.5 x 2 (@Music Is Life, @londonrain)
    Lowest scores: 5 x 2 (@Daniel_O, @Sprockrooster), 6 x 1 (@A&E)
    My score: 9.5

    6 ballots: #35
    12 ballots: #27
    18 ballots: #26
    24 ballots: #24
    27 ballots: #25

    A steady favourite in this rate was Make My Heart, one of Toni's biggest bangers. This is one of two songs on Pulse written by Lucas Secon and Makeba Riddick and produced by Lucas Secon, the other being Lookin' At Me, which is also a bop (and was meant to feature Sean Paul, although he doesn't appear on the final album version).

    Make My Heart is easily the biggest, brassiest, most uptempo song on the album, though, and it's fun to see Toni serving choreo in the video, with guest appearances from her mother and sisters towards the end. Her dancers also have some interesting side routines in various scenes of the video, with the voguing section giving the video a low-key queer aesthetic. The psychedelic colours and mirror effects on the green screen sections, though... yikes.

    It was no surprise to me that Makeba Riddick was involved in this, since her production and writing discography includes an array of stellar bops, from Beyoncé's Get Me Bodied to Kelis's Acapella and the Sugababes' About A Girl. Lucas Secon, however, was a bit more of a leftfield name to see on the credits. Although he does have his own writing and production pedigree, co-writing and co-producing Kylie's Get Outta My Way and co-writing the Pussycat Dolls' I Hate This Part, among others, he actually started out as an artist in his own right. His second album Lucacentric (under the mononym Lucas) in 1994 spawned the US #29 hit Lucas With The Lid Off. The video, directed by screenwriter, producer, director and frequent Beck and Bjork collaborator Michel Gondry, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Music Video and for an MTV Music Video Award for Best Male Video. He was beaten to the Grammy by Love Is Strong by the Rolling Stones, but he was in good company, as his fellow nominees were Angélique Kidjo's Agolo, Sinéad O'Connor's Fire On Babylon (also directed by Michel Gondry), the Pet Shop Boys' Go West, and... Jurassic Park by "Weird Al" Yankovic.

    The main riff of the song is taken from the intro to We're Going To A Party by Evelyn "Champagne King", and it works really well to keep the tempo of the song moving along. Lucas and Makeba join Tamar Braxton on backing vocals, with some particularly good work on the "Ooh, you made this woman have a breakdown in my heart" section. Toni also pulled off the coup of getting Make My Heart into The Sims 3, where it is played in Simlish.

    I quite like the use of the line "Can you feel my pulse?" which refers to the album title, although the song isn't the reason the album is called that - it comes from an experience Toni had speaking to an elderly woman when Toni was in cardiac rehab during what she refers to as "one of my heart scares". The woman - who had just returned from a holiday with her 40-year-old boyfriend - said "I've had four heart attacks. Four. You can't be afraid. You can't stop living." At this point in her life, Toni had been warned that she would not be able to perform again due to the effects of her lupus attacking her heart, but she describes the conversation as being "like a heartbeat, a pulse, that brought me back to life." The name Pulse was chosen as a reminder of that hope.

    So how did you all feel about Toni serving an all-out bop?

    @Holly Something (8) is reminded of Blaque and Mis-Teeq for some reason: "'Gave you my love and I can't get it back…'"

    @pop3blow2 (8.4) is trying to be complimentary, I think: "This is a bit basic, but I’m bopping some."

    @Music Is Life (9.5) is here for it: "A horn-filled bop!"

    @Angeleyes (8) gets his dancing shoes on: "Oh, it's a bop! I wasn't expecting that. For some reason I thought Pulse had no uptempos on it. I'm adding this one to my library. BTW - How much money did the label pump into dance mixes for this song? There are like four or five separate remix EPs for this song alone."

    Finally @WowWowWowWow (9) is pleased, even if he can't resist being sassy in the process: "Hallelujah. Fortunately I was not familiar with the Evelyn 'Champagne' King song being sampled, so I didn't get to have a fussy reaction to it. I'm even willing to overlook the store-brand-Fatman-Scoop adlibs in the background."

  15. RainOnFire

    RainOnFire Staff Member

    This is single-handedly the most torturous climb to the Top 20 I've ever had to experience in a rate. How am I supposed to enjoy the fact that a 5.5 left when a 9 got knocked out right after

  16. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    Me looking at the spreadsheet and seeing what the rest of the eliminations before the top 20 hold for you:

  17. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    Aw, this elimination makes me sad.

    Tbh, it lasted longer than I thought it would...

    ...but @RainOnFire will probably be glad it's leaving.



    24. The Boss (Kenlou Radio Mix)
    The Braxtons: #1 of 6

    Average: 7.837
    Highest scores: 10 x 3 (@Ana Raquel, @Damita Jo, @Music Is Life), 9.5 x 1 (@londonrain)
    Lowest scores: 4 x 1 (@RainOnFire), 6 x 5 (@Daniel_O, @WowWowWowWow, @Trouble in Paradise, @Euphoria, @ComeOnGloria)
    My score: 9.5

    6 ballots: #42
    12 ballots: #41
    18 ballots: #27
    24 ballots: #23
    27 ballots: #24

    Not long after we lost the last track with Traci on it, we lose the final track with Trina and Towanda Braxton on it, as the Braxtons lose their last song in the running and their only song to hit #1 on the US Dance chart, fuelled by the Masters At Work remixes (one of which, the MAW Album Mix, appears as the final track on So Many Ways). The Kenlou Radio Mix, which does not appear on So Many Ways, was produced by Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez and "Little" Louie Vega, also known as Kenlou, Sole Fusion, Nuyorican Soul, and... Masters At Work.


    The Boss was never in the running for the top 20 of this wrong and was initially not even on track to reach the top 40, lagging well behind Slow Flow and Good Life, but the second half of the ballots saw a number of low scores for Slow Flow and a number of high scores for The Boss, unexpectedly catapulting The Boss into first place among the Braxtons' songs and almost putting it within reach of the top 20. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be, and Good Life remains the only Braxtons song to have ever reached the top 20 during the voting period.

    For those still keeping track, Tamar and Toni - the only two acts to have received 11s in this rate - are the only ones left standing. We have 20 Toni songs and 3 Tamar songs making up the top 23. Could we be heading for an all-Toni top 20 or will Tamar hang on? (Tamar's last solo elimination was Angels & Demons at #41.)

    The Boss was written by iconic songwriters and producers Ashford & Simpson, who started out as part of the gospel group The Followers in the early 1960s before becoming soloists and then a recording duo, but their production and songwriting for other artists started in the mid-1960s, running in parallel to their own recording careers. Ashford & Simpson also produced the original version of The Boss, recorded by Diana Ross and released as a single in 1979. Diana's version was a hit in the US - peaking at #1 on the Hot Disco Singles chart, #12 on the Hot Soul Singles chart, #41 on the Adult Contemporary chart and #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 - but did less well in the UK, scraping into the top 40 at #40.

    Although the Braxtons' version - with Trina singing the verses and Tamar leading the choruses - emulated the original by making it to #1 on on Hot Dance Club Songs (the successor to Hot Disco Singles), it failed to chart on any of the other US charts. It did, however, make it to #31 in the UK, becoming the highest-peaking version of the song in the UK and their second UK top 40 single. It also reached #10 in New Zealand, spending eight weeks on the chart, and #24 in the Netherlands, spending eighteen weeks on the chart.

    Interestingly, the Braxtons' version isn't the most recent version of The Boss to top the US dance chart: Kristine W's version became her eleventh #1 on that chart in 2008, making it the third version of the song to hit the top of the dance chart.

    @Holly Something (7.5) damns with faint praise: "This is fun."

    @Music Is Life (10) stans: "Ooo a bop I love this."

    @Euphoria (6) remains unbothered: "I like the beat, but it’s a bit forgettable."

    @WowWowWowWow (6) thinks some legends shouldn't be covered: "I enjoy everything about this other than the fact that it's a Diana Ross cover. Thinking you can do it better than Miss Ross can?"

    @pop3blow2 (8.6) tries not to be biased by the video: "Pretty solid little disco bop. The yard sale concept video is a scream… and almost worth some extra tenths of a point, but I try to not let videos influence my song rating."

    Finally, @Angeleyes (8) has found a new fave: "I'm not familiar with the Diana Ross version (hides) so I didn't realize this was a cover at first and I wasn't expecting disco. It's nice to hear something kind of upbeat considering how many ballads and midtempos they did. The first time I listened I liked, but with each listen I like this one more. It's very catchy and the vocals are really good here. Tamar has some great runs toward the end. The video is really funny too."

    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  18. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

  19. Issa bop but with what's left it was probably about the right time for it to go.
  20. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    This concludes my run of five consecutive 9+ scores being eliminated. Thank goodness for that.

    Next up: two of the three songs we are going to lose before the top 20 have received 11s.

    I'm among the lowest scorers for both of them.
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