The Very Best Of En Vogue, by En Vogue
I must admit that I am a fan of En Vogue and their best songs are, for the most part at least, somewhat easy to determine. For some reason, only a couple of years after releasing the Best of En Vogue, the original label of the band decided to release another compilation that adds a couple of songs and takes a couple of songs away but which keeps most of the obvious choices for the best tracks of the group (although, for some reason, it does not include “Riddle,” the lone hit single from the group’s album Masterpiece Theater, nor the excellent “Too Gone, Too Long,” from their third album). So, in the battle of best of compilations, which will prevail? Here is a track-by-track review:
Hold On: After a slow intro, this song gets cracking with a powerful set of verses and choruses. Admittedly, the harmonies and singing are not exactly the best here, but the song is catchy and sung with a good deal of grit, and this is certainly a good way to begin the album.
Free Your Mind: One of the undoubted standout tracks from En Vogue, this is a powerful track against prejudice and is deservedly one of the best-known tracks by the group, and certainly a big hit that deserves it. The rock guitars only make this song better.
My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It): Another massive top hit from En Vogue, this song showcases the group’s sassy spirit telling a guy that he’s not going to get the loving that he is looking for after treating her with disrespect. Perhaps my favorite part of the song is the stellar breakdown.
Don’t Let Go (Love): This massive hit from the third album of En Vogue and the “Set It Off” soundtrack is my favorite from the band and which really sealed them in my mind as an immensely talented and worthwhile group with real staying power. The witty use of legal and even criminal language makes this a particularly witty song.
Give It Up, Turn It Lose: Beginning with a sample of the Beatles’ “Yesterday,” the song transitions after a conversation between the group members into a sassy song about love that was a deserved hit. While not the best known song of the group, this is still an obvious one of their most notable songs even now.
Whatta Man (with Salt-N-Pepa): This is an enjoyable song, and certainly one that is praiseworthy to the men that the groups are singing about. About the only complaint that can be made about this successful song (which appeared on an EP and not on any of the group’s studio albums) is that it doesn’t have enough En Vogue in it.
Lies: This lesser known single from En Vogue’s first album is one that has been popular on compilations, even if it is not the best of the group’s songs. Even so, this song shows the group’s melodies as well as their sassy spirit and their focus on honesty.
Whatever: An okay song with a creepy music video, this was probably not the best choice for the second single from the third studio album of En Vogue, but it is at least an okay song, even if the music is rather disturbing and the production a bit too spare for what the group is trying to accomplish.
Love Don’t Love You: One of the lesser singles of En Vogue, this song was one of the deep singles of the group on their second album. When an album goes five or six singles deep, as this album did, it is no great problem that not all of the songs are equally catchy, but this song is still an obvious choice given its discussion of the negative side of love, when love isn’t shared by the people we love.
You Don’t Have To Worry: Another one of the lesser singles from the group, this song features a very odd music video and somewhat repetitive lyrics that emphasize that the partner of the singer doesn’t have to feel fear or shame or worry. It’s not a bad track, but it’s definitely more of a filler sort of song rather than a compelling single.
Waitin’ On You: This little known song from the group’s first album begins with a smooth jazz instrumental and has some complex production to disguise the rather simple nature of the song showing the group waiting for a partner to come to come. No music video game was made of this song but it is a decent album track.
Runaway Love (f/FMob): This is a decent song and one that deserved to be more successful than it ones. It is certainly one of the better of En Vogue’s more obscure singles, even if it’s not the best song named “Runaway Love” that I am familiar with (it’s not as good as Ludacris’ single, alas). Still, it was a worthy title track of the group’s EP between their second and third studio albums.
Giving Him Something He Can Feel: This popular single from the group shows the group seeking to prove that they are not too young to love a guy the right way–and many guys would likely agree that by the time of the group’s second album they were definitely mature enough to have a good relationship with a decent person.
Don’t Go: The harmonies of this song definitely sound odd and not as melodic as some of their better known songs. This song is a fairly straightforward call by the group for a partner not to go, and one doesn’t know if the man was awed by
Let It Flow: This funky song is an interesting one to put towards the end of the album, but I suppose its odd harmonies blend with the previous song’s odd harmonies, making for an unconventional end to an album if you listen to it from beginning to end.
Hold On (Hip Hop Remix): This song is pretty much the same as Hold On only with a beefed up percussion and more rap ad libs, and since “Hold On” is one of my least favorite En Vogue hits, this is not enough to make this an essential song.
Alright, so given the fact that the two compilations share a large number of songs, the difference between the compilations can be judged as determining the difference between the songs that are missing (“Too Gone, Too Long” and “No Fool No More”) as opposed to the songs that are present here (“Waitin’ On You,” “You Don’t Have To Worry”, and “Don’t Go”). By that standard, this is the second best best-of compilation of En Vogue, although it is by no means a bad one.