We’re currently in the midst of a lovely little renaissance for modern R&B, as more and more artists are pushing the boundaries of the sort of hip-hop-infused soul that was first given life in the beginning of the ’90s by the likes of Mary J. Blige and others. Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu, Keri Hilson and even Katy Perry are stretching the limits of what the genre can be, freely associating elements of dance music, straight pop and rock into their eclectic sounds. But there has never been a group as bold and dynamic as TLC, who on this day in 1995 ascended to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Creep.”
Released in the fall of 1994, “Creep” was the first single from CrazySexyCool, TLC’s second album. The group had attracted a substantial following for the massive singles on their debut album Ooooooohhh … On the TLC Tip (including the smashes “What About Your Friends” and “Baby-Baby-Baby”), but CrazySexyCool represented a massive leap forward for the group. While the sound of the first album was full of youthful exuberance and cocksure braggadocio, the songs on CrazySexyCool were more mature, showing off an adult approach to love, sex and relationships. It was as appropriate album title as there ever has been, as the songs sounded equally crazy, sexy and — most importantly — undeniably cool.
“Creep” was produced by Dallas Austin, who built an infectious groove around an after-hours trumpet and let the three members of TLC (especially Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins) coo lyrics about infidelity all over it. It stayed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks until it was upended by Madonna’s “Take a Bow.” (The group would return to the top of the chart in the summer of ’95 with a seven week run for “Waterfalls.”) “Creep” is a fantastically groovy track that was certainly helped out by the pajama-heavy video that is the perfect start to your Friday.