This is the third post in a biweekly series. Read about the series — and just what we mean by “freestyle music” — here. Freestyle Fridays post on the first and third Fridays of each month.
This is one of those songs – one of the very few – that I consider to be a perfect pop song.
There are three things I want to say about this song, but first…
A bit of history: In 1969, the five sons of two Annapolis doctors met and started performing under the name Licyndiana. Soon after, three new members joined the group – most notably, Renée Diggs as the lead singer. By the end of the 1970s, the band had scored a recording contract with Cecil Holmes’ Chocolate City Records, at which point it changed its name to Starpoint.
After several albums and singles that achieved some success on R&B and/or dance charts, Starpoint signed on with Elektra. At Elektra, its 1985 LP “Restless” yielded its sole top 40 single, “Object of my Desire.” The tune was a major hit for the group, becoming the band’s first single to crack the top ten on the R&B singles chart, and peaked at #25 on pop charts.
Starpoint’s immense talent – and their R&B influences – are easily seen in their earlier recordings. 1980’s “I Just Wanna Dance With You” is funky disco reminiscent of Earth Wind and Fire by way of Sly Stone. “It’s All Yours” (1984) is gorgeous but generic mid-eighties pop, heavily influenced by Prince. Listening to this, is it any surprise that Starpoint was touring with Morris Day at the time?
Now, compare those earlier songs to “Object of My Desire,” which is more serious, with a more spare production – a true example of the darker NYC freestyle.
My first point: When I talk about “a perfect pop song,” I mean a song that does, simply, everything I want it to do in exactly the way I expect it to. All the right notes are hit at exactly the right times. The transitions and chord changes are exquisitely crafted. You can hear the amazing talent in everyone from the lead singer to the synthesizer. On top of all this songcraft, “Object of My Desire” was a big hit and, so, I heard it dozens and dozens of times, at least. The result is that decades later, when I hear the song, I remember every word and every note as if it was still in constant rotation on my iPod. (It’s not.) And since I listened to it again a month or so ago, to prepare for this piece, it’s popped into my head every. single. day.
My second point: What I find interesting and different about Starpoint’s one freestyle hit – the group’s biggest hit – is that they were already an established group. They formed in 1969, and their biggest hit came in 1985. So what we have here is an established group dipping into the increasingly popular freestyle music style to create a hit single. Many of the freestyle artists we’ll be looking at got their start in freestyle, and went on to release mostly freestyle music. Or, they were unknowns who made a splash with a freestyle debut single, and went on to grow musically. But Starpoint was not some ingénue looking for an entrée into the music business. They had been working for 16 years before their biggest hit. The next single after “OOMD” was “Restless,” a Pointer Sisters sound-alike with just a hint of “OOMD’s” freestyle. I assume their dip into freestyle was just a fun experiment for hugely talented group, as opposed to a more cynical calculation to grab for a hit. But there’s no arguing with the success of “Object of My Desire.”
My last point is about the weirdness that followed the band’s members as they drifted into other projects. Starpoint broke up officially in 1990. One member co-wrote the hit “Girl You Know It’s True” for Milli Vanilli – a tragic fiasco that was, I think, wrongly judged to be a shameful failure simply because the frontmen were revealed to be lip-synching. Another member of Starpoint joined E.U. (Experience Unlimited), which later hit #1 with “Da Butt,” from Spike Lee’s film “School Daze.” Finally, two romantically-involved members of Starpoint – Renee Diggs and Ernesto Phillips – died with a year of each other, both from natural causes and both far too young.
“Object of My Desire” facts:
- Number 25 US Hot 100, December 14, 1985
- 19 weeks on the US Hot 100 chart
- Number 8 US Black Singles
- Number 12 Hot Dance Music/Club Play