FanMail

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FanMail
TLC - FanMail.png
Studio album by TLC
Released February 23, 1999 (1999-02-23)
Recorded April–December 1998
Studio
Genre
Length 63:31
Label
Producer
TLC chronology
CrazySexyCool
(1994)
FanMail
(1999)
3D
(2002)
Singles from FanMail
  1. "No Scrubs"
    Released: February 2, 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. It was released on February 23, 1999, by LaFace Records and Arista Records. 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 weeks at number one.

The album received eight 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 six-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. FanMail is TLC's second best-selling album after 1994's CrazySexyCool. To promote the album, TLC embarked on their first concert tour, the FanMail Tour.

Background[edit]

After the members of TLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 3, 1995, the girls went on a recording hiatus. The suit was eventually settled on November 25, 1996.[4] Preliminary work on TLC's third studio album was delayed when friction arose between the group and their main producer Dallas Austin, who was by this time dating group member Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and helping to raise their son Tron. Austin wanted $4.2 million and creative control to work on the project, resulting in a stand-off between the producer and the artists.

TLC eventually entered recording studios in April 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.

During the recording of FanMail, the group was offered many songs that would later be recorded by other artists, such as 702's hit single "Where My Girls At?", Whitney Houston's "Heartbreak Hotel", and most notably, "...Baby One More Time", which 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. T-Boz commented on rejecting the song to MTV saying "I was like, I like the song but do I think it's a hit? Do I think it's TLC? I'm not saying 'hit me baby.' No disrespect to Britney. It's good for her. But was I going to say 'hit me baby one more time'? Hell no! Every song isn't good for each artist, and when you're a real artist you know what you believe in and what you really want to sing. So, I'm clear that it was a hit, but I'm also clear that it wasn't for TLC." Chilli also added that the group was "not just passing up hits" and it "didn't feel [the song] represented the band appropriately."[5]

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 last album released during Lopes' lifetime, before she died on April 25, 2002 as she was killed in the car crash prior to the release of their fourth studio album. Lopes co-wrote five of the album's songs, while Watkins also co-wrote five and Thomas co-wrote one.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[6]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[3]
Robert Christgau(3-star Honorable Mention)[7]
Muzik4/5 stars[8]
NME8/10[9]
Q4/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[11]
Spin6/10[12]

The album received critical acclaim. Rolling Stone 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 debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 and spent five non-consecutive weeks at number one. It also debuted at number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan, it has sold 4.7 million copies in the United States,[13] and has been certified six-times platinum by the RIAA for shipping six million copies.[14] Internationally, the album reached the top 10 in New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Singles[edit]

"FanMail", "Silly Ho", "I'm Good at Being Bad", and "My Life" served as promotional singles for the album. Those songs charted on the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.

"No Scrubs" was the official lead single and topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for four consecutive weeks, becoming TLC's biggest commercial success in years. It also ranked at number two on Billboard's Year-End Hot 100 of 1999.

Follow-up single "Unpretty" also topped the Billboard Hot 100, spending three weeks at number one and placing at number 20 on the Year-End Hot 100.

Originally, "Shout" was planned to be a single in the United States, while "Dear Lie" would be a single internationally, but only the later would end up being released as a single with an accompanying music video. The album has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.[15]

Legacy[edit]

At the 2000 Grammy Awards, the album received eight 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 Nominee/work 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

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."FanMail"Dallas AustinCyptron3:59
2."The Vic-E Interpretation – Interlude"AustinCyptron0:19
3."Silly Ho"AustinCyptron4:15
4."Whispering Playa – Interlude"
  • Austin
  • Marshall Lorenzo Martin
Austin0:52
5."No Scrubs"Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs3:34
6."I'm Good at Being Bad"Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis5:39
7."If They Knew"
  • Austin
  • Ricciano Lumpkins
  • Lopes
  • Martin
  • Watkins
  • Austin
  • Lumpkins
4:04
8."I Miss You So Much"
  • Babyface
  • Simmons
4:56
9."Unpretty"
  • Austin
  • Watkins
Austin4:38
10."My Life"
  • Dupri
  • Carl So-Lowe[a]
4:01
11."Shout"
  • Austin
  • Lopes
  • Martin
  • Watkins
Austin3:57
12."Come On Down"Diane Warren4:17
13."Dear Lie"
  • Babyface
  • Watkins
Babyface5:10
14."Communicate – Interlude"AustinAustin0:51
15."Lovesick"Austin3:52
16."Automatic"AustinAustin4:31
17."Don't Pull Out on Me Yet"Austin
  • Austin
  • Briggs[b]
4:33

Digital download track[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.

Notes

  • ^a signifies a co-producer.
  • ^b signifies an additional vocal producer.
  • "I'm Good at Being Bad" contains elements from "Slippin' Into Darkness" by War.
  • On initial pressings of the album, "Whispering Playa – Interlude" featured a sample of "Cold Blooded" by Rick James playing in the background.[16] 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.[17]
  • The song "I'm Good at Being Bad" originally featured interpolated lyrics from Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby", but the interpolated lyrics were later removed on later pressings of the explicit version. They were never removed from the clean version of the album.

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[51] Platinum 70,000^
Belgium (BEA)[52] Gold 25,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[53] 4× Platinum 400,000^
France (SNEP)[54] Gold 100,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[55] Million 1,000,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[56] Platinum 80,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[57] Platinum 15,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[58] Platinum 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[59] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[60] 6× Platinum 6,000,000[61]
Summaries
Europe (IFPI)[62] Platinum 1,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "FanMail - TLC - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. 
  2. ^ Gracie, Bianaca (2014-02-21). "TLC's 'FanMail' Turns 15: Backtracking". Idoaltor. Retrieved 2016-07-02. 
  3. ^ a b "Fan Mail". 
  4. ^ Henriques, Diana B.; 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. 
  5. ^ "WHY TLC SAID 'HELL NO' TO BRITNEY'S '...BABY ONE MORE TIME'". MTV. Retrieved 2017-08-04. 
  6. ^ FanMail at AllMusic
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert. "TLC". Robert Christgau. 
  8. ^ Muzik review Archived 2008-10-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ "TLC : Fanmail - NME". NME. 
  10. ^ Q review Archived 2008-10-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "TLC: Fanmail : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone". 9 July 2008. 
  12. ^ Clover, Joshua (May 1999). "Reviews". Spin. Vol. 15 no. 5. pp. 146–7. Retrieved January 22, 2017 – via Google Books. 
  13. ^ Keith Caulfield. "Ask Billboard". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010. 
  14. ^ "American certifications – Fanmail". Recording Industry Association of America. 
  15. ^ "VH1 To Do Made For TV Film About TLC". 105.9 Kiss. Retrieved October 3, 2010. 
  16. ^ "TLC-Whispering Playa Interlude". YouTube. 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  17. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  18. ^ "Australiancharts.com – TLC – FanMail". Hung Medien.
  19. ^ "Austriancharts.at – TLC – FanMail" (in German). Hung Medien.
  20. ^ "Ultratop.be – TLC – FanMail" (in Dutch). Hung Medien.
  21. ^ "Ultratop.be – TLC – FanMail" (in French). Hung Medien.
  22. ^ "TLC Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard.
  23. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – TLC – FanMail" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  24. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 111 no. 23. June 5, 1999. p. 95. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via Google Books. 
  25. ^ "TLC: FanMail" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  26. ^ "Lescharts.com – TLC – FanMail". Hung Medien.
  27. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – TLC – FanMail" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts.
  28. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 111 no. 24. June 12, 1999. p. 43. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved January 15, 2017 – via Google Books. 
  29. ^ "「ファンメイル」 TLC" ["FanMail" TLC]. Oricon (in Japanese). Archived from the original on January 5, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  30. ^ "Charts.org.nz – TLC – FanMail". Hung Medien.
  31. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – TLC – FanMail". Hung Medien.
  32. ^ "Official Scottish Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  33. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – TLC – FanMail". Hung Medien.
  34. ^ "Swisscharts.com – TLC – FanMail". Hung Medien.
  35. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  36. ^ "Official R&B Albums Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  37. ^ "TLC Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  38. ^ "TLC Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  39. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1999 – Albums". Ultratop (in Dutch). Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  40. ^ "Rapports Annuels 1999 – Albums". Ultratop (in French). Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  41. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 1999". dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  42. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts – 1999". Offizielle Deutsche Charts (in German). Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  43. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1999". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  44. ^ "Årslista Album (inkl samlingar) – År 1999". Hitlistan (in Swedish). Archived from the original on August 13, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2018. 
  45. ^ "Swiss Year-End Charts 1997". swisscharts.com. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  46. ^ "End of Year Album Chart Top 100 – 1999". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  47. ^ "Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1999". Billboard. Retrieved June 24, 2018. 
  48. ^ "R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 1999". Billboard. Retrieved June 24, 2018. 
  49. ^ "Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 2000". Billboard. Retrieved January 15, 2017. 
  50. ^ Mayfield, Geoff (December 25, 1999). "Top Pop Albums of the '90s". Billboard. Vol. 111 no. 52. p. YE-20. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved June 24, 2018 – via Google Books. 
  51. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1999 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved August 8, 2012. 
  52. ^ "Ultratop 50 Albums Vlaanderen 1999". Ultratop (in Dutch). Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  53. ^ "Canadian album certifications – TLC – Fanmail". Music Canada. October 19, 1999. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  54. ^ "French album certifications – TLC – FanMail" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. August 17, 1999. 
  55. ^ "RIAJ > The Record > October 1999 > Page 9 > Certified Awards (August 1999)" (PDF). Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  56. ^ "Dutch album certifications – TLC – FanMail" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved August 23, 2018.  Enter FanMail in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  57. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – TLC – FanMail". Recorded Music NZ. October 31, 1999. Retrieved January 5, 2012. 
  58. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (TLC; 'Fanmail')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved 8 August 2012. 
  59. ^ "British album certifications – TLC – Fanmail". British Phonographic Industry. September 9, 1999. Retrieved August 8, 2012.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Enter Fanmail in the search field and then press Enter.
  60. ^ "American album certifications – TLC – Fanmail". Recording Industry Association of America. June 21, 2000.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  61. ^ 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).
  62. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 1999". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2 March 2014.