First Hit #1: January 14, 1989
New year, new attitude – at least initially – and Bobby Brown breaks through with a song brimming with bravado. At first, it just seems like a bit of dance pop with a defiant edge, as Brown sings about how he can do what he wants because, well, it’s right there in the title isn’t it? Celebrities often have these moments where they get angry at the world because of tabloid attention. But Bobby Brown has a bit more than that, he’s not just talking about being a pop star, though that’s certainly part of the narrative. It’s subtle – one mention of being a brother, a late-song rant in a live version of the song – but he implies that there’s something about being Bobby Brown that makes it more difficult for him to do what he wants than, say, Phil Collins. It’s not an overt mention of race, just a bit of a thread that gives the song a bit of a sharper edge than just a pop star complaining that he can’t do what he wants. Brown doesn’t come across as a saint in the piece – it’s also a song about how he likes to sleep around, it must be said – and in the years since the tabloid scrutiny has shifted, oddly and somewhat creepily, to teenage girls – which eventually lead to the Britney Spears cover of the same song. True, the official story is that the song is about him leaving New Edition, but the important thread is that Brown doesn’t know why he’s singled out by the tabloids, just that he has his suspicions.