Saturday, June 30, 2012

How The Pointer Sisters Went Cosby

The Pointer Sisters. "I'm So Excited." "Jump (For My Love)." "He's So Shy." Typical mainstream '80s dance pop. I mean, nothing could be weird about the Pointer Sisters, right? Right??

Little did you know.

The tale is old by now: many '80s stars didn't exactly end up where they started. And then ... there are the Pointer Sisters.

In the '70s, the Pointer Sisters recorded a little bit of everything. What do I mean, "everything"? I mean big band music. I mean bebop. I mean country. I mean everything.

Oakland's finest definitely weren't strangers to funk and R&B. In fact, their '70s R&B material is probably a lot grittier than their '80s R&B material. On songs like "Going Down Slow," they sound more like Labelle or the Staple Singers than Lionel Richie or Michael Jackson.

Also, for a while, the Pointer Sisters thought they were the Andrews Sisters.

And then there was the country song. From Wikipedia:
Bonnie Pointer would play down the idea of a C&W hit by the Pointer Sisters being a novelty: "People think because we're always trying something different we're not sincere. Like country music. For us it's no joke...Our folks came from Arkansas and we grew up singing country songs. It's part of us."
Apparently it was. "Fairytale" peaked at #13 on the pop chart, and although it only peaked at #37 on the country chart, well, you have to be impressed that it even charted there at all. In the wake of its crossover success, the Pointer Sisters became the first African-American group to perform at the Grand Old Opry. The song was even covered by Elvis!

But clearly black country music was not what '80s audiences were waiting to hear (right, Lionel?). In 1978, the Pointer Sisters switched record labels, and intentionally or not, switched sounds as well. Or rather, they picked one sound and they stuck with it. One of the sisters even got lost in the shuffle and was never heard from again.

Well, if you're going to pick one sound and stick with it, you might as well pick Cosby Rock. Am I right or am I right?

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