Brandy and Monica – The Boy Is Mine

First Hit #1: June 6, 1998

The Boy Is Mine is a really fun idea for a song, and that might be part of the reason for its success. Two girls fighting over the same guy gives a lot of opportunity for harmonizing as well as having two singers trading off lines as they go around. It is the kind of thing that could take two singers and make something kind of fun out of it. The fact that the lyrics don’t actually favor one lyricist over the other makes for a nice bit of interplay and allows Brandy and Monica to play off each other and make something that’s pretty fun.

Small problem though, I can’t actually tell them apart. They’re singers in the exact same range, singing the exact same style. Monica’s vocal is a bit cleaner, Brandy has a bit of smokiness that she doesn’t, but it takes a lot of concentration to actually be able to tell the difference. This isn’t a detriment in the chorus, since it works for the same reason a singer harmonizing with themselves works, but it isn’t quite as effective when they’re supposed to be fighting in the verses. They’re just not different enough, and one has to actually learn the intricacies of their voices before they can appreciate the interplay between them. Even after listening several times, there were a lot of times when I couldn’t figure out who was supposed to be delivering each part. It’s a fun song, no question, but no matter how different Brandy and Monica might have been in their personality, they just don’t have very different voices.

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One Response to Brandy and Monica – The Boy Is Mine

  1. RBerman says:

    Wolverine – “Aren’t you going to tell me to stay away from your girl?”
    Cyclops – “If I had to say that, she wouldn’t be my girl.”
    Wolverine – “Then I guess you’ve got nothing to worry about, ‘Cyclops.'”
    (further verbal fencing ensues)
    Cyclops – “Oh, and Logan… Stay away from my girl.”
    (from the first X-Men movie)

    This song’s title is an obvious callback to Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s “The Girl is Mine,” with all the humorous obliviousness to insecurity which such a proprietary attitude implies. McCartney and Jackson seemed to understand the premise was a goof, but they were older. Brandy and Monica, aged 19 and 18 at the time, may have really thought that the Jolenes of the world might respond to cajoling or threats, and they play it with all the deadly seriousness a high school girl can muster, which is actually quite a bit.

    Both learned to sing in church, of course, but Brandy Norwood was known as at least as well as a comedic actress, while Monica Arnold remained a singer only. If they were performing as a girl group, their vocal similarity would have been an asset. But as a Superstar Duo, they suffer from 90s-itis, failing to separate themselves not only from each other but also from their idols Toni Braxton like Mariah Carey by anything except their lack of top-tier vocal talent.

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