Reaching A Summit With Wilson Phillips

California scenery, vocal harmonies and an uplifting message in this week's Forgotten Videos
  • Wilson Phillips' Chynna Phillips in "Hold On"
August 03, 2011 -- 1:34 pm 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.

Wilson Phillips
"Hold On"
1990

When the three fresh-faced lasses in Wilson Phillips emerged on the pop scene in 1990, they did more than just "Hold On." The vocal trio quickly established themselves as a commercial force. Their self-titled debut album rocketed to No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and went on to sell more than 5 million copies in the United States. It also registered three No. 1 hits with "Hold On," "Release Me" and "You're In Love," and two other Top 20 hits, "Impulsive" and "The Dream Is Still Alive."

"Hold On" was the tune that provided Wilson Phillips their big breakthrough. The video to the inspirational song was an MTV staple and undoubtedly played a key role in catapulting the group to stardom. It smartly emphasized Wilson Phillips' youthful visual appeal and fetching vocal harmonizing amid the glorious beaches and mountains of their native Southern California. Here we are treated to aerial shots of the three women singing on a mountaintop, followed by close-ups of them vocalizing in the sand on a glorious sunny day, and later a stroll down a beach boardwalk.

"Hold On" certainly made the indelible connection between Wilson Phillips and the California sound and spirit that was so associated with their famous parents. Carnie and Wendy Wilson are the daughters of Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson. Chynna Phillips is the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas And The Papas, the '60s band that delivered one of the quintessential Golden State songs, "California Dreamin'."

Wilson Phillips netted four GRAMMY nominations in 1990, including Album Of The Year, Best New Artist and a nod for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for "Hold On." The group's follow-up album, 1992's Shadows And Light, didn't fare as well commercially, but still attained platinum status. The trio subsequently disbanded and the members pursued various solo projects.

Holding on for more than a decade, in 2004 Wilson Phillips reunited to release California, an album of cover songs by the Beach Boys, the Mamas And The Papas, Eagles, and Fleetwood Mac, among others. In 2010 they unwrapped a holiday album, Christmas In Harmony.

Interest in the group spiked again recently with their cameo appearance in the comedy film Bridesmaids, in which they are seen performing "Hold On." (Phillips has a background as an actress having appeared in '80s teen films such as Some Kind Of Wonderful and Say Anything.)

Arguably Wilson Phillips' most memorable song, "Hold On" was co-written by Phillips and Carnie Wilson with GRAMMY-winning producer Glen Ballard. (Ballard later enjoyed further success as the producer for Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill in 1995.) But why has the song resonated with listeners?

"The song has helped many people get through their own personal difficulties," said Carnie Wilson in the liner notes to the group's Greatest Hits album that was released in 2000. "It's extremely positive and uplifting."

The song is so uplifting that some fans have fulfilled their lifelong dreams of making their own scenic tribute to the "Hold On" video.

As Wilson Phillips enters the second decade of their career, perhaps "Hold On" doubles as a group mantra of sorts. The trio is currently in the midst of a brief tour and has alluded to a reality TV show and new album possibly on the horizon. Fans looking to keep a grip on Wilson Phillips can visit www.wilsonphillipsmusic.com.

Have things gone your way after holding on for one more day? Got any Forgotten Video recommendations? Leave us a comment.

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