FanMail

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For correspondence sent to a celebrity, see Fan mail. For other uses, see Fan mail (disambiguation).
FanMail
Studio album by TLC
Released February 23, 1999
Recorded April—December 1998
D.A.R.P. Studios
(Atlanta, Georgia)
Genre R&B, hip hop, electronic
Length 62:07 (explicit reissue)
63:31 (original explicit version)
63:23 (clean version)
67:02 (with bonus track)
Label LaFace, Arista
Producer
TLC chronology
CrazySexyCool
(1994)
FanMail
(1999)
3D
(2002)
Singles from FanMail
  1. "No Scrubs"
    Released: January 23, 1999
  2. "Unpretty"
    Released: August 10, 1999
  3. "Dear Lie"
    Released: November 30, 1999

FanMail is the third studio album by American girl group TLC, released on February 23, 1999. It was the follow up to their 1994 album CrazySexyCool. The title of the album is a tribute to their fans who sent them fan mail during their hiatus. FanMail debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling approximately 318,000 copies in its first week of release, and spent five non-consecutive weeks at number one.

The album received 8 Grammy nominations at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards, including one for Album of the Year, and won three. As of 2000, the album has been certified 6× Platinum by the RIAA,[1] and is TLC's second best-selling album after 1994's CrazySexyCool.

Background[edit]

After a hiatus following the members of TLC filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 3, 1995,[2] TLC eventually entered recording studios in April of 1998 to start work on their then-untitled third album with producer Dallas Austin. While Austin contributed most to the album and served as its executive producer, TLC also worked with long-term producers Babyface and L.A. Reid, as well as Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The album was scheduled for release on November 10, 1998 but was pushed back to February 23, 1999.

The album took on a new world, futuristic style, which was highly popular throughout the late 1990s to early 2000s. This style was effectively portrayed in the album's most popular song "No Scrubs", along with the music video, which embraces a modern emphasis on female strength and independence. The album also featured a custom font design, cover art with decode-able binary code, along with pictures of the group members in metallic skin tones. The album's CD insert folds out to form a large poster featuring a picture of TLC and the names of thousands of people who sent them fan mail along their career. A limited edition of the album was released, and had an insert with a lenticular version of the cover placed in front of the original booklet in the jewel case. The album contained several tracks featuring vocals by the computer modulated voice Vic-E (Vikki), a talking android later featured in the FanMail Tour.

The album title is a tribute to TLC's fans after their five-year hiatus. The title came from group member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who also coined the group's first two album titles, Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip and CrazySexyCool. There is an explicit version and a clean version replacing certain curse words, some sexual remarks, and some racial slurs. The explicit version comes with a Parental Advisory sticker, their first album to do so. FanMail was the group's final album released during Lopes' lifetime, before she died three years later. Lopes co-wrote five of the album's songs, while Watkins also co-wrote five and Thomas co-wrote one.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[3]
Entertainment Weekly (B-)[4]
Robert Christgau (3-star Honorable Mention)[5]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[6]
Muzik 4/5 stars[7]
Q 4/5 stars[8]
Spin (6/10)[9]
NME (8/10)[10]

The album received critical acclaim. Rolling Stone magazine declared FanMail "equal parts steely bitch and sweet sister, superfreak and misty romantic, self-centered coffee achiever and spiritualized earth mama."

Commercial performance[edit]

FanMail became a global success. The album debuted on top of the U.S. Billboard 200 and spent five non-consecutive weeks at number one. It also debuted at #1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan, it sold 4.7 million copies in the US.,[11] and has been certified 6× platinum by the RIAA for shipping six million copies.[12] Internationally, the album reached the top ten in New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

"Silly Ho", "I'm Good at Being Bad" and "My Life" served as promotional singles for the album. Those songs charted on the U.S. Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. "No Scrubs" was the official lead single and topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for four consecutive weeks, becoming TLC's biggest commercial successes in years. It was also the second-biggest single of 1999, coming at #2 on Billboard's Year-End Hot 100 of 1999. Follow-up single "Unpretty" also reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending three weeks at number one and placing at #20 on the Year-End Hot 100. "Shout" was planned to be the next U.S single, but it was cancelled in favor of "Dear Lie". Which was released as the album's final single, but never made it to the U.S. Top 50 as it was only released internationally.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "FanMail"   Dallas Austin Cyptron 4:00
2. "The Vic-E Interpretation – Interlude"   Austin Cyptron 0:18
3. "Silly Ho"   Austin Cyptron 4:15
4. "Whispering Playa – Interlude"   Austin, Marshall Lorenzo Martin Dallas Austin 0:52
5. "No Scrubs"   Kevin "Shekspere" Briggs, Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle, Lisa Lopes Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs, Lisa Lopes 3:34
6. "I'm Good at Being Bad"   James Harris III, Terry Lewis, Tony Tolbert, Tionne Watkins, Lisa Lopes, Martin, Giorgio Moroder, Pete Belotte, Donna Summer, Morris Dickerson, Charles Miller, Sylvester Allen, Harold Brown, Howard Scott, Lee Oskar, Leroy Jordan Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis 5:39
7. "If They Knew"   Austin, Ricciano Lumpkins, Lopes, Martin, Watkins Austin, Lumpkins 4:04
8. "I Miss You So Much"   Babyface, Daryl Simmons Babyface, Simmons 4:59
9. "Unpretty"   Austin, Watkins Austin 4:39
10. "My Life"   Jermaine Dupri, Tamara Savage, Lopes, Martin Dupri (Co-produced by Carl So Lowe) 4:01
11. "Shout"   Austin, Lopes, Martin, Watkins Austin 3:59
12. "Come On Down"   Diane Warren Debra Killings, Austin 4:18
13. "Dear Lie"   Babyface, Watkins Babyface 5:10
14. "Communicate – Interlude"   Austin Austin 0:51
15. "Lovesick"   Austin, Rozonda Thomas Austin 3:53
16. "Automatic"   Austin Austin 4:31
17. "Don't Pull Out on Me Yet"   Austin Austin 4:33
Japanese bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
18. "U in Me"   Austin Austin 3:50

Notes[edit]

  • On initial pressings of the album, "Whispering Playa – Interlude" featured a sample of "Cold Blooded" by Rick James playing in the background.[13] The sample was removed on subsequent editions, likely due to copyright reasons, with the background music being a clip of another TLC song, "U in Me", instead.[14]
  • The song "I'm Good at Being Bad" originally featured a sample of Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby", but the sample was removed on later pressings of the explicit version. The sample was never removed from the clean version of the album.

Digital download tracks[edit]

  • "I Need That" (MP3.com exclusive track) – 3:52
    • Released online by TLC on MP3.com to promote the FanMail Tour. Produced by Rico Lumpkins for PWPX, LLC. Written by R. Lumpkins, L. Lopes, and S. Chunn. Left Eye's rap was later expanded and rerecorded on the track "Gimme Some" from Toni Braxton's album The Heat as well as being completely reused and shortened on the track "Whoop De Woo" from the compilation Now and Forever: The Hits, originally intended for the group's fourth album 3D.

Known outtakes[edit]

  • "It's Alright" – 2:48
    • Featured on UK radio stations in January 2002.
  • "Let's Just Do It" – 4:47
    • Recorded by Left Eye with T-Boz on backing vocals. Remixed and released as lead single of Left Eye's posthumous album Eye Legacy.
  • "...Baby One More Time" – 3:38
    • Offered to TLC, but they rejected it. It was then famously recorded by Britney Spears for her debut album of the same name and released as her debut single which launched her career.
  • "Where My Girls At?" – 3:10
    • Another song rejected by TLC, 702 recorded it and it became their biggest hit. Chilli would later comment about it and said she wished they had the song and "it was so TLC."

Legacy[edit]

At the 2000 Grammy Awards, the album received 8 nominations, including one for Album of the Year. The album won three awards. Singer/songwriter Kyla covered "I Miss You So Much" for her sixth album Heartfelt and rapper/singer Drake recorded a cover of the opening track, "FanMail", for his song I Get Lonely Too. A remix features Jeremih, while another extended mix and mashup features TLC. The songs are featured on The FanMail Mixtape and It's Never Enough mixtape on DatPiff.com.

Year Recipient Award Result
2000 FanMail Album of the Year Nominated
Best R&B Album Won
"No Scrubs" Record of the Year Nominated
Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Won
Best R&B Song Won
"Unpretty" Song of the Year Nominated
Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Nominated
Best Video - Short Form Nominated

Main personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Preceded by
...Baby One More Time by Britney Spears
I Am... by Nas
Billboard 200 number-one album
March 13 – April 9, 1999
May 8–14, 1999
Succeeded by
...Baby One More Time by Britney Spears
Ryde or Die Vol. 1 by Ruff Ryders

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database - June 04, 2014". RIAA. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  2. ^ Henriques, Diana B. and Samuels, Anita M. (February 5, 1996). "Does Going 'Broke' Mean Artist Really Doesn't Have Any Money?". New York Times. Archived from the original on October 10, 2004. 
  3. ^ FanMail at AllMusic
  4. ^ Entertainment Weekly review
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert. "TLC". Robert Christgau. 
  6. ^ Rolling Stone review
  7. ^ Muzik review
  8. ^ Q review
  9. ^ Spin review
  10. ^ NME review
  11. ^ Keith Caulfield. "Ask Billboard". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010. 
  12. ^ "American certifications – Fanmail". Recording Industry Association of America. 
  13. ^ "TLC-Whispering Playa Interlude". YouTube. 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  14. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  15. ^ "TLC-Fanmail (Album)". Australian-Charts.com. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  16. ^ a b c "Canadian Albums Chart (Week of May 01, 1999)". Billboard. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  17. ^ "ARIA Charts - End of Year Charts - Top 100 Albums 1999". ARIA. Retrieved August 7, 2014. 
  18. ^ 1999: The Year in Music. Billboard. January 1, 2000. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  19. ^ Geoff Mayfield (December 25, 1999). 1999 The Year in Music Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade - The listing of Top Pop Albums of the '90s & Hot 100 Singles of the '90s. Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2010. 
  20. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1999 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  21. ^ "Canadian album certifications – TLC – Fanmail". Music Canada. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  22. ^ ""RIAJ > The Record > October 1999 > Page 9 > Certified Awards (August 1999)". Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved 2 March 2014. 
  23. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (TLC; 'Fanmail')". Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  24. ^ "British album certifications – TLC – Fanmail". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 8 August 2012.  Enter Fanmail in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  25. ^ "American album certifications – TLC – Fanmail". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  26. ^ Ask Billboard. According to Nielsen SoundScan, "Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip" (1992; 2.5 miilion), "CrazySexyCool" (1994; 7.2 million), "FanMail" (1999; 4.7 million).
  27. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 1999". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2 March 2014.