Well, here we are: the last full week of Jheri Curl June. Since we try to go in rough chronological order, this is the week when things start to get a little tricky: as we went over last year, the latter half of the ’80s was a period of decline for jheri curl music, as the pop market shifted toward the fresher, more youthful sounds of hip-hop and New Jack Swing. It was not, however, an overnight process; and so the waning years of the decade offer many examples of transitional songs: retaining the DNA of classic jheri curl, while also beginning to show the effects of the emerging R&B mutations of the ’90s.
“Casanova,” by Cleveland-based vocal group LeVert, is one such transitional song. Its parent album, 1987’s The Big Throwdown, was co-produced by Reggie Calloway: a member of the jheri-curl old guard, who dedicated readers may remember as a performer on Midnight Star‘s “No Parking on the Dance Floor” and a producer on “Meeting in the Ladies’ Room” by Klymaxx. So yes, those drums may have the soon-to-be-patented New Jack swingbeat; but the keyboard frills and clean guitar part are as jheri-curl as Ice Cube’s yearbook photo.
But this is Jheri Curl June, not Pop Musicology June, so let’s do what we do best and make fun of some music videos. The promo for “Casanova” is, to put it kindly, “of its time,” with lots of awkward choreography–both by the video’s nominal star, a moonwalking “Casanova” caught between three women, and by Marc Gordon, Gerald and Sean Levert themselves, whose wedding-reception-caliber moves rival those of the Whispers. Yes, the sheer level of cheese on display probably tells us all we need to know about why JCM was on its way out in 1987; but doesn’t some small part of you miss the days when this was considered a valid form of entertainment?
We’ll be back tomorrow with more Iron-Age jheri curl. In the meantime, enjoy the Spotify playlist: