*On September 24, 1988, Bobby McFerrin made history by giving the Billboard Hot 100 its first ever No. 1 single that was strictly acapella. “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” comprised entirely of sounds out of McFerrin’s body, held the top position for two weeks and went on to earn 1989 Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
It was also named by Village Voice critic Michael Musto as the worst song of all time. All Time. It topped Q100 DJ Bert Weiss’ list of tracks he would ban from radio for good, and made Blender’s “50 Worst Songs Ever” list, saying the lyrics were “appalling” and adding, “It’s difficult to think of a song more likely to plunge you into suicidal despondency than this.”
Very rarely has a song so critically acclaimed been equally publicly defamed, with Public Enemy putting a stamp on the vitriol against its responsibility-shirking sentiment with its “Fight the Power” line “Don’t Worry, Be Happy was a number one jam. Damn if I say it you can slap me right here!”
Let’s dip back to this week in 1988 to get a bit of history behind the polarizing song.
“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was released as part of the soundtrack to the 1988 Tom Cruise movie “Cocktail.”
Thirty-two years ago today, it took the number one spot by knocking off “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses.
Guns N’ Roses – Live At The Ritz – 1988 – Sweet Child O’ Mine
It was knocked off of its two week Hot 100 reign by Whitney Houston’s Olympics-themed “One Moment in Time.”
Whitney Houston – One Moment In Time – (Live at Grammy, 1989)
While “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was all the rage atop Billboard’s pop-oriented Hot 100, R&B fans tolerated it, at best. The song never made it past No. 11 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Tracks, where Jeffrey Osborne’s “She’s On The Left” held down the top spot 32 years ago this week.
McFerrin was already an established, multiple Grammy-winning, respected jazz lyricist before the ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy” detour happened. Bill Cosby had featured him in The Playboy Jazz Festival during the 80s, and had McFerrin re-record “The Cosby Show’s” theme for its fourth season.
McFerrin reportedly said he got the idea for “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” after visiting the San Francisco apartment of jazz duo Tuck & Patti and noticing a poster on the wall with the phrase “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” referring to the popular expression printed on promotional cards and posters during the 1960s from Indian mystic Meher Baba, who claimed he was God in human form.
Inspired by the charm and simplicity of Meher Baba’s phrase “Don’t worry, be happy,” McFerrin wrote the song’s lyrics and overdubbed percussion, melody, lead vocals and other sounds from his own mouth as the backing track. Its use in “Cocktail” didn’t hurt the promotion. Neither did the presence of comedic stars Robin Williams and Bill Irwin in the music video.
But in an era that saw the emergence of Black power-infused hip hop from the likes of Public Enemy, X-Clan and KRS-One, McFerrin’s artistry in creating an acapella masterpiece came was eventually blurred by lyrics that some interpreted as turning a blind eye to pressing societal issues of race and economics that warranted righteous rage from a Black man, not blissful ignorance.
Family of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén on ‘Red Table Talk: The Estefans’ – TODAY on Facebook Watch
*In the upcoming fourth episode of Red Table Talk: The Estefans, premiering this Wednesday, October 28 at 9amPT / 12pmET on Facebook Watch, the Estefans are joined by the family of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén, including her mother Gloria Guillén and her sisters, Mayra and Lupe, for an emotional conversation about the tragedy at the Fort Hood army base in Texas.
In April, 20-year-old Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén was found dead outside a Texas Army Base. Now, her devastated family are coming to the Red Table to demand justice and seek answers. Vanessa’s heartbroken mother sits down for an emotional one-on-one conversation with Gloria and reveals why she feels there is more to the story surrounding her beloved daughter’s death. Vanessa’s impassioned sisters share their gut-wrenching journey and the important work they’re doing to ensure this never happens again.
- Series Description: A new addition to the “Red Table Talk” franchise on Facebook Watch, “Red Table Talk: The Estefans” features music icon and Grammy winner Gloria Estefan, her daughter and rising musician Emily Estefan and her niece and Daytime Emmy Award-winning Lili Estefan – three generations of women coming together for a new series of candid conversations with family, celebrity friends and more. No topic is off-limits as the women bring their own opinions and life experiences to the iconic table and to their communities.
- Production: “Red Table Talk: The Estefans” is produced by Westbrook Studios, with Jada Pinkett Smith, Gloria Estefan, Ellen Rakieten & Miguel Melendez serving as executive producers.
BECK MEDIA & MARKETING
ARRAY DRIVE-IN: ‘GET OUT the Vote with SELMA’
*Ava DuVernay’s non-profit ARRAY ALLIANCE is launching its second ARRAY Drive-in screening event on Friday, Oct. 30 and Sat. Oct. 31.
This latest cinema experience is a community empowerment activation featuring two Oscar-winning films: SELMA amplifies the importance of voting to activate change as we approach the upcoming presidential election. GET OUT is the perfect psychological horror thriller to screen on Halloween.
In addition to the films, the open to the public screenings in ARRAY’s Historic Filipinotown/Westlake neighborhood will include on-site voting booths provided by LA Vote mobile voting center, on Friday, Oct. 30. Attendees can vote in person or drop-off their ballots.
Friday, Oct. 30 – SELMA, directed by Ava DuVernay and on-site voting via LAVote.net’s mobile voting center
Saturday, Oct. 31 – GET OUT, directed by Jordan Peele
Ticket Information: First come, first serve entry with advance ticket registration at http://www.arraynow.com/drivein#elevent
Follow Us on Twitter and IG: @ARRAYNow
Founded in 2011 by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is a multi-platform arts and social impact collective dedicated to narrative change. The organization catalyzes its work through a quartet of mission-driven entities: the film distribution arm ARRAY Releasing, the content company ARRAY Filmworks, the programming and production hub ARRAY Creative Campus and the non-profit group ARRAY Alliance. www.arraynow.com
The Pulse of Entertainment: Brian Courtney Wilson Says Be ‘Still’ on New Album
*“Move past fear,” said Grammy nominated Brian Courtney Wilson about the meaning of the title to his new album “Still” (EMI/Motown Gospel). “You got to stay focused on your assignment. It’s in the Bible. Be still and keep moving without doubting and move mountains.”
“Still” is the Chicago native’s fifth album and in that time since 2009 he has garnered multi-Grammy nominations, a Billboard Music Award nomination, and has won multiple Stellar Awards, a Dove Award and an ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Award. Featured artists on “Still” include Maranda Curtis and Jeff Pardo. Grammy nominated Eric Roberson (United Tenors) co-wrote the track “Waiting” which encourages one to recognize when God has answered your prayers.
“The best feeling I had was when Eric Roberson sent it to me,” Brian said about the single “Waiting.” “I was almost in tears. It’s why I was feeling this peace.”
Other tracks on the album include “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler);” “Ain’t No Need to Worry,” featuring Maranda; “Forever;” “Sure As;” the title track “Still;” “Merciful and Mighty,” and “Fear is Not Welcome,” featuring Jeff.
Wilson launched his first solo tour, “Just (B) Tour,” just before the pandemic hit and grounded everyone home.
“It went well,” he said when I asked about the tour. “I’m looking forward to doing it again. We’re figuring out a way to do it virtually.” www.BrianCourtneyWilson.com
SYNDICATED COLUMN: Eunice Moseley, MS, MBA, MPhil has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations Strategist and Business Management Consultant at Freelance Associates, and is Promotions Director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times. www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com. EVENTS: “Uplifting Minds II” Entertainment Conference (ULMII), founded by Eunice in 1999, is into its 21st year. Next events are coming to Los Angeles Saturday, November 7, 2020 via Zoom Video Conferencing and to Baltimore Saturday April 17, 2021 at Security Square Mall. The ULMII event is a free conference offering an Entertainment Business Panel Q&A Session, a Talent Showcase and Talent Competition (vocal, songwriting, dance and acting) where aspiring artists have a chance to receive over $15,000 valued in prizes/product/services. Log onto www.UpliftingMinds2.com for more information or to RSVP for Zoom Access email [email protected]
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