Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam – Head to Toe

First Hit #1: June 20, 1987

Lisa Lisa, a girl so nice they named her twice, and her cult jam didn’t exactly break any new ground with Head to Toe. It does have some pretty great synthesized drums, and Lisa Lisa herself has a very enjoyable voice, but the song doesn’t initially stand out from the crowd. Everyone’s doing this heavily synthesized drum sound, and while it’s a twist on an old girl band sound, everyone’s doing that too, with varying degrees of success. I was ready to dismiss it out of hand, but I’ve got to admit, Lisa Lisa charmed me. Maybe it’s because I also watched the video, where she presents a certain infectious enthusiasm, but there’s something just fun about her performance. The song isn’t anything special, but I’m charmed by her performance anyway, and her voice kind of sails above the song in a distinctly carefree manner. It’s still not an all-time classic, but it’s very possible to have some fun with it.

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3 Responses to Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam – Head to Toe

  1. RBerman says:

    What we’re seeing here is the most successful corner of a whole crop of Latino dance artists grouped under the label “Freestyle.” Gloria Estefan, with her Cuban rhythms, proved to have the most staying power. Expose was a girl group with one great ballad. Lisa Lisa is more of a two-hitter, a Janet Jackson wannabe, heavy on gated drums, double-tracked vocals with a strong Diana Ross-does-Madonna vibe, and sparse bass.

  2. Lisa Lisa77 says:

    Hmm.. Actually Lisa had SEVERAL hits.. including the classics “I Wonder If I Take You Home”, “All Cried Out”, “Lost In Emotion” and “Can You Feel The Beat” which ALL hit # 1 on the Billboard charts, so I’d hardly call her a two hitter, or a Janet Jackson wannabe. In fact, when you listen to Janet’s album “Rhythm Nation” it sounds a lot like an album Lisa’s 1989 album “Straight to the Sky”. Lisa’s name was thrown into the Freestyle genre but if you know anything about music you’d notice NONE of her songs are freestyle and that they’re actually good ole fashioned R&B. Please guys do your research so you sound can sound like you know what you’re talking about.

  3. musicosity1 says:

    Music categorizations can overlap. Just as Duran Duran can be both “New Wave” and “New Romantics,” calling Lisa Lisa “freestyle” doesn’t make her “not R&B.” It’s not unusual to put her in multiple categories:

    “Lisa Lisa (born Lisa Velez on January 15, 1967) and her band Cult Jam were one of the original American freestyle groups of the 1980s.” (

    “Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam were a popular ‘80s group credited with bringing “freestyle music”—a Latin-influenced blend of pop and R&B—to the mainstream.” (

    “Super Freestyle Explosion… the predominantly Latin, electronic/synthesizer/samples-centric, and mostly mid-80s era genre of music. Representing the relatively short-lived but highly influential music scene and style for the evening was Stevie B, Lisa Lisa, Exposé, Debbie Deb, Shannon, Trinere, Johnny O, Nu Shooz, Pretty Poison, and Stacey Q.” (

    “Lisa Lisa (born Lisa Velez, January 15, 1966) and her band Cult Jam were an urban contemporary band and one of first freestyle music groups to emerge from New York City in the 1980s.” (

    ” These hits were followed by the success of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, who had been one of the earliest freestyle acts…The genre was called “Latin hip-hop” in the mid-1980s…” (

    “Like many Freestyle music lovers, freestyle music is my heart and soul… If you know exactly what I’m talking about then you know I’m referring to singers such as Coro, Lisa-Lisa and The Cult Jam, George Lamond, Lisette Melendez, Debbie Deb, Stevie B, TKA…” (

    As you note yourself, she is commonly placed in the “Freestyle” category, despite your personal opinion that she doesn’t belong there. It sounds like you’re someone who really enjoys her music, so I’m sorry I offended you. As far as the “two hit wonder” bit: On the pop chart which this blog covers, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam had eight Top 100 hits, of which six were Top Forty, three were Top Ten, and two went all the way to #1. I was thinking of the latter when I called her a “two hit wonder.”

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