4 Non Blondes Pray For A Revolution

Linda Perry tells you what's up in this week's Forgotten Videos
  • Linda Perry and Christa Hillhouse in "What's Up?"
September 07, 2011 -- 11:15 am PDT
GRAMMY.com

Welcome to Forgotten Videos. For some, these videos are forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week we'll feature a video that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or vice-versa…. We're not here to judge, we just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.

4 Non Blondes
"What's Up?"
1992

The inclusion of combat boots, dreadlocks, oversized flannel, and facial piercings in the video for this Bay Area band's first and only Top 20 hit was enough to satisfy any '90s pop/rock-starved music fan's craving. But, style aside, frontwoman Linda Perry's howling delivery of lyrics such as "And so I cry sometimes when I'm lying in bed/Just to get it all out, what's in my head/And I, I am feeling a little peculiar," is more akin to the confession of 25-year-old who's unsatisfied with the world than a pop song, the latter description coincidentally being one of the causes for Perry's eventual departure from 4 Non Blondes in 1995.

The video is also a little peculiar, but maybe typical for its time. Not much happens of note, other than scenes of the band performing live in various locations both onstage and in a living room for an audience that is unseen, and shots of falling gumballs. If one thing is certain, the idea of waking "in the morning" is stressed as shots of Perry performing with the band in a living room feature her in heart-printed boxer shorts.

Formed in 1989 in San Francisco, this all-girl four-piece band — Shaunna Hall (guitar), Christa Hillhouse (bass), Perry, and Dawn Richardson (drums) — crashed onto the scene with their debut album, 1992's Bigger, Better, Faster, More! The album peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard 200 with "What's Up?" achieving similar success, just missing the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 14. The video gained significant rotation on MTV, propelling the album to platinum certification in the United States in 1993 and sales of more than 6 million copies worldwide.

The group found their way onto tours with the likes of Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam and Neil Young, and received recognition from their native San Francisco by earning an award for best song and Perry taking home top female vocalist at BAM magazine's now defunct Bammies in 1994. But the success proved too much for Perry, who felt the band had become too pop and left to pursue a solo career, subsequently releasing 1996's In Flight and 1999's After Hours. Nevertheless, Perry went on to write several pop hits for the likes of pop stars such as Christina Aguilera, Pink and Gwen Stefani, ultimately garnering a GRAMMY nomination for Song Of The Year in 2003 for the former's "Beautiful."

"If I hear another label tell me that they need a song for the radio I'm going to poke out their eyeballs with a fork," Perry told Rolling Stone in March.

Readers of Rolling Stone seem to share Perry's sentiment. In a recent poll conducted by the magazine, readers voted "What's Up?" one of the worst songs of the '90s, and Perry agreed, sort of. "I wasn't really a big fan of my band," she said. "I didn't like the record at all. I did love 'What's Up?' but I hated the production. I wanted to say, 'We're a f***ing bad-a** cool band. We're not that fluffy polished bulls*** that you're listening to.'"

If you're looking for more Perry, you can find it in her first group project since leaving the other three non-blondes — Deep Dark Robot.

Do you know what's going on? Got any Forgotten Video recommendations? Leave us a comment.
 

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