Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing)

First Hit #1: November 14, 1998

Some artists are at their best when they’re trying to throw the spotlight on social issues. It’s possibly because they know that it’s a priority to make the message go down easy, so they write great music to help spread the word. Take Doo-Wop (That Thing) which has a chorus that is incredibly catchy but also taking the form of a warning against superficial people – “That Thing” isn’t really straightforward in its definition, but given the verses you can infer that it’s related to a certain superficiality. You’ve got the piano driven soul line and Hill’s smooth vocal giving the surface pleasures that make you want to return to the song again and again, but the song itself is making a serious statement about culture, and the traps people lead themselves into in the pursuit of happiness. It’s a dark song, but presented in a light way, and it works because it has those two elements working together. It could sound completely at odds with itself, but instead it gives a base optimism that allows it transcend its lyrical warnings. The music promises the happiness that might result if one heeds Hill’s words.

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One Response to Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing)

  1. RBerman says:

    And thus did the photogenic lead singer go solo, as always. Even the “60s vs 90s” video compares her to Diana Ross. But the music is mid 70s soul, as befits the “20 years later” rule. Not a lot of rappers can sing this well even now, let alone in the late 90s. The cautionary lyrics recall “Waterfalls.”

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