This is the eighth 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. 

Queens native Denise Lopez released her first single in 1984 under the name Neecy Dee. The next year, she was part of the band Love Patrol, which released an eponymous single on the legendary hip hop (and freestyle) label 4th & Broadway. (Give that song a listen for the Godzilla sample at the beginning!)

Lopez’s next single, “If You Feel It,” , was produced by HiNRG remixers John Morales and Sergio Munziba, and hit #3 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales Chart. This success allowed Lopez to sign with A&M Records and start finding some success as a solo artist. In 1988, Lopez released her biggest single, “Sayin’ Sorry (Don’t Make It Right) from her debut album, “Truth in Disguise.”

Lopez continued to release some minor hits, including a 1998 duet with American musician-singer-songwriter Dan Hartman for the soundtrack of Bill Murray’s 1988 film Scrooged, and 1990’s “Don’t You Wanna Be Mine,” produced and remixed by Robert Clivillés and the late David Cole, also known as C+C Music Factory. (I hear and see a lot of the about-to-hit-it-really-big C+C Music Factory in this song and video along with a healthy dash of Paula Abdul.) Afterwards, Lopez disappeared from the music scene and public eye, and never made a mainstream appearance again.

Like “For Tonight,” this is another video I saw and heard often at gay video bars in the very early 1990s. It’s becoming clear to me that video bars were adding some older dance and video hits to their lineup; “Sayin’ Sorry…” was a #1 Dance Music hit only about 18 months before I heard it at gay clubs in Boston. (The song simply wasn’t that old at the time!) And of course this video had the added benefit of featuring some beefcake, which didn’t hurt its chances of being played in gay clubs.

It’s a great, catchy song, another earworm, and Lopez’s impressive vocal performance approaches dance club diva status. The song’s lush and layered production — combined with backup singers!  takes this song to a new level for freestyle. Sure, Debbie Gibson brought some bubblegum pop into freestyle, but Lopez has a song that feels more authentic while also being simply great pop music.

But maybe the most interesting thing about this song is the synthesizer heard at about 18-seconds in. Does it sound familiar? If “Sayin’ Sorry…” was released in mid-1988 and peaked that August, then another particular freestyle song  released later, in October 1988, by a more popular and established band seems to owe something to the Denise Lopez single! But more on that next time.

Fun Facts

  • Number 31 on The Billboard Hot 100, August 20, 1988
  • Number 1 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales Chart
  • Number 6 on the Dance Music/Club Play Singles Chart

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