Please don’t ask me to choose my favorite En Vogue video. The funky divas had a hold on me ever since Hold On. Like Lauren from Stereohyped, I too wanted to be one of them — usually Cindy, but I always thought Dawn was too fierce for words.
Lots of En Vogue videos really honed in on the women’s beauty, the exquisite attention they paid to their makeup and hair. For example, the fierce fashion show of Free Your Mind, and check out the intro to Giving Him Something He Can Feel — is that El DeBarge drooling in that audience, alongside the likes of Johnny Gill? (a side note – when En Vogue dropped Funky Divas, I thought their version was the original. Then I saw Sparkle. And then, I heard the definitive version. OMG, check out Aretha’s outfit in that clip. Loves it).
So obviously I can’t pick a favorite En Vogue video, but I have one that means more to me than the others. Funky Divas was one of the first cassette albums I owned, and I wore that tape into dust. So let’s just say that Give It Up Turn It Loose struck a special chord in me, back in 1992.
So gorgeous. Talk about turning the glamour up a notch, right? The first time I saw this video, was the first time the lightbulb of “Wow, I want to do my makeup like THAT” clicked on. I started using my mom’s kajal stick and dreaming of a transformation from gawky preteen into glamazon. The love of makeup and primping and all things self indulgently girly were already instilled in me thanks to Mama Bella, but my admiration of Nineties black style icons like the women of En Vogue shaped the woman I have become. This video still inspires me. I love the thick, Fifties brows and perfectly applied liquid liner look. Like En Vogue’s music, it never goes out of style.
I found this interesting NY Times article about the behind-the-scenes stylists helping on this video to create that definitive En Vogue look, a “three man finishing school” that coached the group on everything from how to accept an award to how to select the perfect clothes. I’ve often thought a finishing school for famous people could be a good thing — I’m sure more than a few celebrities who could use a lesson in manners came to your mind, too. But perhaps it was that molding and preening and fussing that led to the group’s demise. The article ends on a foreboding note — “One image stricture is that “the girls” must appear as a unit, even though they often disagree about how they like to look individually. “If we have to wear the same thing,” Ms. Robinson said, “Cindy will vary it by wearing a halter neck, and Terry, who’s very conservative, prefers to be more covered up.” Of course, there’s no telling how long harmonious diversity will last. “In the same way that Motown worked, where eventually a whole series of artists tired of that system and left to go out on their own,” Mr. DeCurtis said, “all four or any one of them might get to the point where she wants greater freedom.”
Ain’t that the truth. By 1997, Dawn Robinson had left to pursue her own solo career, and EV3 remained. I lost track of the ladies after Don’t Let Go — apparently they added a member or two, and released some albums that didn’t fly. Hope returned when all four ladies joined Salt N Pepa at the 2005 Hip Hop Honors, and I loved them singing backup on Stevie Wonder’s So What The Fuss. But amidst rumors of financial differences, and some frankly depressing rumors about Dawn — who has some new solo music and talks about a big comeback on her MySpace — the future of the original En Vogue lineup looks murky. But hey, if Salt N Pepa could get it together thanks to reality television, maybe that’s the solution for En Vogue. I know I’d watch that for sure! For now, all I can watch is the old videos and keep my fingers crossed for a comeback.
I won’t ask you to choose one favorite En Vogue video — it’s too hard to choose just one! Tell me which ones make your top three, bellas!