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Sunday, September 21, 2014


Once again, it's time for a SUNDAY JUKEBOX entry, and this time around, I'm going to be doing another one of those "can Matthew write a blog entry in just two hours" kind of entries.

You see...I'm writing this just a couple of hours before I get ready for a secret party that will be held in honour of a milestone that is being celebrated for a family member, and since I will be working the very next day, I only have a limited time to get all my points across.

(Mind you, by the time you read this, I will already be at work, and the party will already have come and gone.  But don't worry.  If you're interested, I'll fill you in on all the details in a future blog post.)

Anyway, today in the Sunday Jukebox entry (and every entry that I've done for 2014), we'll be taking a look at a #1 song that topped the charts.  And this week, we'll be going back in time fifteen years to September 1999.

Now that was one month that symbolized a lot for me.  It was the beginning of my final year of high school, and I was so excited to get the year over and done with.  What that meant for me was getting out of that building, and getting far away from various people who I did not care for.  It also meant that I was really entering adulthood, and I sort of had this naive way of looking at the world back then.  I knew that kids could be cruel, but I had this mentality that as we grew older, we became less cruel and instead became more tolerant towards others.

How misguided was I?

I mean, don't get me wrong.  There's been lots of instances in which I've seen people grow better with age.  Simultaneously, there's also been instances in which people become complete jerks.  Now, whether that has to do with nature vs. nurture, I have no clue.

But perhaps one of the things that drives me crazy about people is the fact that some people are so judgmental of others that they feel that they have to act a certain way or look a certain way to be considered "beautiful" or "handsome".  I mean, you see it all the time in magazines and commercials, especially with the female gender.  Women being airbrushed to the point where they become unrecognizable.  Women who fall victim to "photoshop liposuction".  Women who have their teeth whitened so much that their smiles appear to look like they glow in the dark.  And we won't even get started on the things that ad execs do to women and their breasts.  I often wonder if any of the women featured in those ads have anything natural about them with the way that they're edited for the covers of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, or even Maxim.

And here's the whole thing about these ads.  They're purposely manipulated to present the image of what society considers to be the "perfect" woman.  The only catch is that there is no such thing.  Unfortunately some people look at these manipulated images and they feel that in order to be taken seriously, or to get noticed, or to get respect, they have to do whatever is possible to be able to look like that person.

Or worse, you end up changing your outside to impress someone who claims to love you only for them to not be satisfied with the changes and they demand that you try something else for you to be more physically attractive to them. 

I mean, yes, you can buy hair if yours won't grow.  You can even fix your nose if someone says so.  You can even buy all the make-up that has ever been made.  But if you can't look inside yourself and find the real beauty that can be found inside of yourself, then you won't feel beautiful - and in some cases, if you don't feel beautiful yourself, it's difficult to make anyone else feel the same way.

Hmmm...that kind of reminds me of something.  Oh yeah.  This song.

SONG:  Unpretty
ALBUM:  FanMail
DATE RELEASED:  August 10, 1999

As far as I can remember, this was one of the last TLC songs that I can remember being such a big hit.  In fact, it was the last #1 hit that TLC ever had.  It wasn't long after this song was released that the "L" in TLC (Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes) was killed in a car accident in April 2002 at just 30 years of age.  The other two members of the group (Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins) and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas) have continued singing and touring under the TLC name.

And certainly before Lisa Lopes' tragic death, TLC was certainly one of the biggest selling female R&B groups of their era.  Releasing their debut album in 1992, the group has gone on to sell millions of records, and have released dozens of singles.  In fact, their 1994 album "CrazySexyCool" had no less than four singles that hit the Top 5, and had sold in excess of up to 23 million copies!

But if you were to ask me what my favourite TLC song is of all time...well, I'd put "Unpretty" in my top five list.  It is such a great song with a fabulous message - albeit presented in a video which contains some rather disturbing scenes.

But in the context of the video, the scenes are necessary to present the message that the song is trying to present.

In the video (which reportedly cost over one million dollars to film), there are several different scenarios that feature a woman in a situation where she feels "unpretty".  But there are two that seem to stand out in this video.

In one, you have Chilli and her boyfriend who appear to be visiting a cosmetic surgery website.  Chilli's boyfriend thinks that bigger is better and he really wants Chilli to have a breast enlargement so that he can see her as being even more beautiful.  Now, Chilli isn't exactly all that keen on doing the surgery, but she is basically convinced that doing the surgery is the only way that her boyfriend will stick around, so she goes ahead to book the appointment - reluctantly.

In the other situation, you have a girl, no more than sixteen or seventeen who happens to have curves and a booty - which is absolutely fantastic.  The problem is that this girl doesn't seem to think that's enough.  She sees all of the waif and thin models on the cover of magazines, and she wants to get thin like them at all costs - even if it means developing an eating disorder to do so.

But here's the thing.  It's not their bodies that are's the attitudes that society and loved ones have towards them that make them feel that way in the first place that I really find unpretty.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with either Chilli or the girl in the video.  They were and are beautiful.  But because the media and their lovers told them that they were beautiful, but they'd be so much more beautiful if they did this and that...well, that's just crazy talk.  It's also a sad commentary on self-esteem, isn't it?

At least you can say that things have gotten a lot better in terms of self-acceptance.  The last ten years or so have been a great decade for female acceptance, as artists such as Katy Perry, Meghan Trainor, and Lady Gaga have released songs about loving yourself and all your two thousand parts.  I believe even Dove has launched a worldwide self-esteem program for women to develop more confidence about their bodies and themselves which is also awesome to see.

And in the case of this TLC video, the video has a happy ending.  The teenage girl shreds all the photos of the skinny girls she has worshipped and puts on her bathing suit with pride.  And after Chilli witnesses another patient get their breast implants out in a painful manner, she runs out of the hospital, takes a deep breath, and proceeds to judo chop her presumed to be ex-lover for even suggesting such a thing.

I call that a real "pretty" ending. 

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