Single Review (90s Style): "I Believe" and "Hey Leonardo" by Blessid Union of Souls

While making a playlist this week, I rediscovered Blessid Union of Souls and their two hits "I Believe" and "Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me for Me)." These tunes remind me of what was so great about 90s music: an interest in rock, socially conscious ballads, and fun power pop.

Though the moodier of the two, "I Believe" remains Blessid Union's biggest hit, peaking at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. This is the kind of song the doesn't make the charts these days: an earnest ballad that feels personal, but considers broader concerns than just romance. (In particular, the tune addresses violence, illegal drugs, consumerism, and racism.) In the third verse, the song gets particularly touching when the lead vocalist, Eliot Sloan, sings about seeing a girl named Lisa, who is afraid of being cut off by her father if he discovers she's seeing the singer--a black man. Sloan hopes, "One day he'll understand and he'll see me as person, and not just a black man." The lyric answer to all of these concerns arrives in the hook: "Cause I believe love is the answer. I believe that love will find the way." It's a lovely sentiment--one that was more common in pop music during the mid 90s than now. "I Believe" was the kind of song that made me feel, as little kid, that I could make the world a better place.

Of course, the decade wasn't all socially conscious emoting, and neither was Blessid Union's music. Their hit, "Hey Leonardo," talks about dating a girl who loves the singer just as he is. It mixes power pop, rock, and lots of pop culture references to delicious effect. The tune came my way on a Now That's What I Call Music 3 CD, which gives you an idea of the track's youthful appeal. It's a song for summer radio and hanging out with friends during the days of the Walkman, video stores, and TRL.

Gosh, I miss the 90s.

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