This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Honourable Mention Song #18: What’s Up? by 4 Non-Blondes (as Nominated by Christine Hanolsy.
My friend, Christine, had a funny cartoon on her FB newsfeed yesterday that read, “Internet friends are real friends”. This is very apt because Christine and I have never met in real life even one time. I doubt that we have been within one thousand kilometres of each other and yet, here she is being included in our musical countdown. Christine and I have known each other for eight or nine years now. Way back in the day, we were both involved in the Trifecta Writing Challenges. Through that writing community, I came to know and respect Christine for the talented writer that she is, as well as, for the quality of her character. As a general rule in my own life, whenever I can surround myself with strong, capable women, I leap at the chance to do so. So, when the folks at Trifecta closed up shop. Christine was one of the people I asked to stay in contact with. I feel fortunate that she agreed. Christine has moved on from Trifecta and now acts as Editor-in-Chief of the “YeahWrite” writing community. She, also publishes essays, poems, short stories and other bits of writing under her own name. I will link to both websites at the end of this post and would encourage any of you who wish to read great writing to check her out!
One of the things that I admire most about Christine is that she is a champion of LGBTQ rights and is very much a feminist, too. As many of you know by now about me, I have always held the view that Love comes in many forms and that finding it is like winning Life’s lottery. I am happy for anyone who finds someone to love and is loved equally in reply. So, I was not overly surprised when Christine nominated several songs that were all by artists/bands that identify as being from the LGBTQ community. Of the song choices she submitted, the one I opted to write about was “What’s Up?” by the band, 4 Non-Blondes.
“What’s Up?” was a big hit for 4 Non-Blondes back in the early 1990s. It was their only hit, actually. But, what a hit! “What’s Up?” sold five million copies as a single. The song, itself, is a very simple song in terms of musical structure and lyrical content. It revolves around lead singer, Linda Perry’s view that the world at the time seemed fairly messed up, with the first “Desert Storm War” under way and all sorts of political shenanigans going on in the U.S. “What’s Up?” sings about being incredulous but, also, determined to stay true to who you are and what you believe in, regardless of what is happening around you. There is a universality of understanding found in those lyrics that has touched a chord with audiences all over the world; an appeal that remains strong, all these years later. In fact, according to research…..and yes, there is research into just about everything…..”What’s Up?” by 4 Non-Blondes is one of the most played Karaoke songs in the world. Everyone loves its’ simple message of staying strong in the face of Life’s challenges. It is a fun song that most of us can sing along to; especially, the chorus. If you know the song then, you know what I mean. If you don’t then, watch the video at the end of the post. I am sure you will figure it out quickly enough. 🙂
As a band, the original members of 4 Non-Blondes were singer/songwriter/producer, Linda Perry, bassist, Christa Hillhouse, guitarist, Shaun Hall and drummer, Wanda Day. They were all fiercely independent women and musicians, who fought tenaciously to ensure that the vision they had for their music was what ended up appearing on the only album they released, entitled, “Bigger, Better, Faster, More!” With the success of the one hit, “What’s Up?’, the band achieved a level of financial security/clout that made them feel as though they could be more selective and creative with Album #2. However, as is often the case, the business side of things came into play and the band felt a great deal of pressure from their record label to create “What’s Up: Part 2”. That pressure ended up causing the band to break up just a few years later. But, that was not the end of the road for singer, Linda Perry. She always enjoyed writing songs so much, she focussed her energy in that regard and ended up creating songs for a host of talented singers such as Pink (“Get The Party Started“), Christina Aguilera (“Beautiful“), Gwen Stefani (“What Are You Waiting For?”), as well as, Adele, Alicia Keys and Courtney Love. Perry was inducted into the Songwriter’s Category of The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
So, there you have it. Thank you, Christine, for nominating such a classic song for me to write about. Thanks, as well, for all of your comments and shared stories that you have contributed to this musical countdown journey of ours. As I know you can appreciate, the interactivity of it all is what makes it so much more enjoyable for me so, thanks for playing your part.
Without further delay, here are 4 Non-Blondes with their massive hit, “What’s Up?”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “What’s Up?” by 4 Non-Blondes, can be found here.
The link to the official website for 4 Non-Blondes, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Linda Perry, can be found here.
The link to the official website for my author buddy, Christine Hanolsy, can be found here.
If you want to check out the “YeahWrite” writing community and participate in one of their weekly writing challenges, the link to that website can be found here.