I did have the cassette tape though. My abiding love of combat trousers can be traced to that cover art (though early Eternal, All Saints and Tank Girl played a part in that) featuring the 3 TLC members standing in in a small pool of water, their hi-tops peeking out on the surface.
Today marks 10 years since Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes died in a car crash in Honduras. Lisa Lopes, the girl with the wrapped condom affixed to her glasses, who you might not be surprised had ‘to beg’ with that accessorising. Still at least she was prepared.
With or without the unorthodox adornment Lopes was the TLC member you were looking at. By the time Waterfalls was released a black stripe under her left eye had replaced the tampered glasses. When the album FanMail came out the black stripe was gone, an eyebrow ring taking its place.
Try as I might, for all the Ke$has, Lady Gagas and [insert quirky artist’s name here] I cannot think of another artist that can match Left Eye for her sheer daring. Gaga can parade wearing turquoise merkins and Ke$ha can collaborate with The Flaming Lips (I don’t want to talk about it) all they like but what are they singing about? Getting drunk and dancing, not to emulate the Daily Mail party line but where’s the deep message in that? In fact, where’s the fun in that?
I hesitate to apply a term such as ‘responsibly zany’ to the woman who burned down a house when trying to set fire to her allegedly abusive boyfriend’s tennis shoes. But when it came to her lyrics and wardrobe there was method in the madness, it wasn’t about what would get the most attention but what requires attention.
Led by Lopes TLC followed on from where Salt N Pepa (and Spinderella!) left off but who is really singing about female sexuality or safe sex now? In 1999 Lopes presented her fellow band members to a contest:
“I challenge Tionne 'Player' Watkins (T-boz) and Rozonda 'Hater' Thomas (Chilli) to an album entitled The Challenge... a 3-CD set that contains three solo albums. Each (album)... will be due to the record label by October 1, 2000... I also challenge producer Dallas 'The Manipulator' Austin to produce all of the material and do it at a fraction of his normal rate. As I think about it, I'm sure LaFace would not mind throwing in a $1.5 million dollar prize for the winner.”
Watkins and Thomas never rose to the challenge, Lopes’s solo album Supernova didn’t quite live up to the name. I challenge today’s girl bands and solo artists to refuse censorship and address some of Lopes’s favourite subjects.
I bet there’s a tonne of words that rhyme with prophylactic.