Waterfalls (TLC song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Waterfalls by TLC US CD maxi-single.jpg
Standard artwork (U.S. CD maxi-single pictured)
Single by TLC
from the album CrazySexyCool
Released May 29, 1995
Recorded 1994
Length 4:40
Producer(s) Organized Noize
TLC singles chronology
"Red Light Special"
"Diggin' on You"

"Waterfalls" is a song by American recording group TLC. It was written by band member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes with Marqueze Etheridge and Organized Noize for TLC's second album, CrazySexyCool (1994), featuring production by the latter. The song was released as the third single from the album on May 29, 1995 in the United States, followed by a United Kingdom release on August 5, 1995.

Often considered the group's signature song, "Waterfalls" was an international hit, topping the charts in many different territories. The song spent seven weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, giving the group their second U.S. number one. The song was the number two song of the year on Billboard's 1995 year-end chart. "Waterfalls" also peaked at number one in New Zealand, Switzerland, and Germany, while reaching the top ten in many other countries. "Waterfalls" received critical acclaim, earning two Grammy nominations at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards in 1996 for Record of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

The song tackled issues of the illegal drug trade, promiscuity and HIV/AIDS. Jarett E. Nolan of BMG noted that "Waterfalls" was the first number one song ever to reference AIDS in one of its verses.[1] The accompanying music video for the song reflected its socially conscious lyrics. With a million-dollar budget, the video was an MTV staple credited for giving the single much of its success. It stayed atop the MTV Video Monitor chart for over a month, making TLC the first act to ever achieve this feat. The video won four MTV Video Music Awards in 1995, including top honors for Video of the Year. TLC was the first African American group or artist to ever receive the trophy.


"Waterfalls" is an R&B and hip hop soul ballad written by TLC band member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes with Marqueze Etheridge and Organized Noize, who also produced the song. Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins perform the song with Lopes, who also provides a rap. The background vocals are performed by the members of TLC, as well as Debra Killings and Cee-Lo Green. Of Green's involvement, Watkins noted, "He was in Goodie Mob, we grew up together, we go way back. He (sang on the track) and it was amazing! I love his voice."[2]

The lyrics of the song reference 1990s issues such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic and violence associated with the illegal drug trade.[3] Watkins said that it was important for the group to "get the message across without seeming like preaching."[4]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by F. Gary Gray and features Ella Joyce, Bokeem Woodbine, Shyheim, Paul J. Alessi and Gabrielle Bramford. TLC had to force Antonio L.A. Reid to get the budget for the music video,[4] which was filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood from June 8–9, 1995.

Like the song itself, the video tackles issues of illegal drug trade and HIV/AIDS, two crises that plagued the 1990s. A young man (Shyheim) goes against his mother's advice to stop selling drugs and is killed before a drug deal. In other scenes, a woman in a relationship is shown convincing her partner (Alessi) not to use a condom. Afterwards, he looks in the mirror and sees that he has an early symptom of AIDS visible on his face, in the form of Kaposi's sarcoma. He then sees a small photo frame on the dresser, showing all the people she has had sex with previously. The video also intercuts scenes of liquified versions of TLC performing to the song while standing on top of an ocean and performing in front of a real waterfall. At the end of the video, the young man involved with drug gangs appears in ghost form. He tries to hug his mother as she is walking down the streets, every time he tries to hug her she walks right through him. The bedroom of the couple shows the man's face faded from the picture with the woman sitting alone on the bed, she too fades away, as they both die from AIDS.

The video won four awards at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards: Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Best R&B Video, and the Viewer's Choice Award. Watkins stated in retrospect that the "video spoke for a whole epidemic."[2]

Live performances[edit]

The song was performed at many awards shows, including the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards and the 1996 Grammy Awards. The group performed "Waterfalls" at the 1995 MTV Movie Awards wearing black tops and silver pants. The performance "was theatrical and kept true to the lyrical story."[5] They also performed the song at MTV's 20th Anniversary on August 1, 2001, making it Left Eye's final performance with the group before her death. In September 1995, TLC performed "Waterfalls" in a medley with "Creep" and "Diggin' on You" on the British TV chart show Top of the Pops, aired on BBC One in the United Kingdom.

Remaining members T-Boz and Chilli performed the song along with Alicia Keys along with fellow girl groups En Vogue and SWV at the 2008 BET Awards. Thomas and Watkins appeared on Good Morning America on October 15, 2013 to perform the song during promotion for the greatest hits 20 and the VH1 biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.[6]

On November 24, 2013, TLC performed at the 2013 American Music Awards with special guest Lil Mama, who performed Left Eye's rap in tribute to her.

Critical reception[edit]

"Waterfalls" has received critical acclaim from music critics. Entertainment Weekly described the song as a "Prince-inspired ballad" that "hint[s] at the artistic greatness TLC might achieve if freed from commercial concerns."[7] Nigel Butler of Sputnikmusic compared the song to esteemed artists such as Sly and the Family Stone, Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder.[8] Butler wrote, "The arrangement and instrumentation is absolutely fantastic - if a bunch of great melodies had an orgy, the result would something a little like this - and the lyrics are the best on an album that maintains a shockingly high standard of songwriting. Left-Eye drops the album's best rap on this track too."[8]

The song was nominated for two Grammys at the 1996 Grammy Awards: Record of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. It was also ranked 13th in VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years and 8th on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 1990s.[9] In 2010, Billboard awarded the song the top position of summer songs in 1995.


Jeff Benjamin of Fuse wrote that the track was "far more than just another pop hit: The track told a cautionary tale of HIV and AIDS, and its video depicted a man who didn't wear a condom with his girlfriend and later watched his body degenerate in the mirror."[2] AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that "Waterfalls, "with its gently insistent horns and guitar lines and instantly memorable chorus, ... ranks as one of the classic R&B songs of the '90s."[10] Sputnikmusic's Butler asserted that "any list of the best singles of the 90s that does not include this in the top 15 — at least — is among the worst lists ever written."[8]

Thomas and Watkins rerecorded "Waterfalls" with Japanese pop singer Namie Amuro in 2013 for the song's twentieth anniversary.[11] The song peaked at number twelve on Japan's Hot 100 chart. That same year, the song was referenced in the film We're the Millers as Will Poulter performs Lopes's rap.[12] The song also appears in the film's end credits. In 2015, the horror-comedy show Scream Queens featured the song in the pilot and is referenced numerous times in other episodes.

Track listings[edit]

US/International CD single

  1. "Waterfalls" (Single Version) – 4:18
  2. "Waterfalls" (ONP Remix) – 4:36
  3. "Waterfalls" (Dallas Austin Remix) – 4:28
  4. "Waterfalls" (Instrumental) – 4:39

European CD Single

  1. "Waterfalls" (No Rap Edit) - 3:32
  2. "Waterfalls" (Single Version) – 4:18
  3. "Waterfalls" (ONP Remix) – 4:36
  4. "Waterfalls" (Dallas Austin Remix) – 4:28
  5. "Waterfalls" (Instrumental) – 4:39

2001 US re-release CD single

  1. "Waterfalls" (Single Edit) – 4:18
  2. "Waterfalls" (Dallas Austin Remix) – 4:28
  3. "Waterfalls" (Instrumental) – 4:42
  4. "Waterfalls" (ONP Remix) – 4:35
  5. "Waterfalls" (ONP Instrumental) – 4:37
  6. "Waterfalls" (Album Version) – 4:39

Waterfalls (20th Anniversary Edition) Digital Single

  1. Waterfalls (20th Anniversary Edition) featuring Namie Amuro– 4:35

Charts and certifications[edit]

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" by Bryan Adams
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
July 2, 1995 – August 19, 1995 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Kiss from a Rose" by Seal
Preceded by
"How Deep Is Your Love" by Portrait
New Zealand (RIANZ) number-one single
August 11, 1995 – September 1, 1995 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson
Preceded by
"You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson
Swiss number-one single
October 8, 1995 (1-week)
October 29, 1995 (1-week)
Succeeded by
"You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson
Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio featuring L.V.

Stooshe version[edit]

Single by Stooshe
B-side "See Me Like This"
Released 11 November 2012
Format Digital download
Genre R&B, hip hop soul
Length 3:29
Label Warner Music UK
Writer(s) Marqueze Etheridge, Lisa Lopes, Organized Noize
Producer(s) Future Cut
Stooshe singles chronology
"Black Heart"

"Waterfalls" was recorded by British girl group Stooshe originally recorded for their self-titled debut album, released through Warner Music UK on 11 November 2012.[43] Stooshe chose to release a cover of "Waterfalls" after meeting TLC member T-Boz, who had previously congratulated them on their acoustic cover of the song.[44] The band have turned the track's rap, performed by Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, into a three-part harmony.[44] It was announced in April 2013 that the group's cover of "Waterfalls" would not be appearing on their debut album, with member Karis Anderson claiming they "are pretending [it] didn't happen".[45]

Critical reception[edit]

4Music's Trent Maynard stated that Stooshe's take on "Waterfalls" has "smooth, layered harmonies and a easy-breezy barbershop feel."[44] Digital Spy's Lewis Corner gave the song three out of five stars and commented "It must be said that soft flourishes of brass and light guitar strums blend with the girls' on-point vocals smoother than a Starbucks cappuccino. However, after proving themselves as one of 2012's most promising original pop acts, covering a much-loved '90s anthem still feels like a strange move."[46] Jon Hornbuckle from So So Gay gave the song four stars and stated "Covering a song as famous as TLC's global hit 'Waterfalls' could backfire on a girl group, but Stooshe shouldn't be worried. Their take on the classic 1995 hit is yet another opportunity for them to showcase their fantastic voices and is a sure-fire hit, with its radio friendly vibes and sing-along chorus."[47] He thought the song sounded "fresh" and Stooshe had managed to put their own stamp on the track.[47] Hornbuckle added "If only all cover tracks were like this – a re-interpretation, rather than a copy-and-paste cover."[47]

Music video[edit]

Stooshe released an official lyric video for the track on 3 October, before unveiling the official music video on T4 on 7 October.[43] The video, directed by Matt Stawski, features cameo appearances from fellow TLC members T-Boz and Chilli.[43][48] Hornbuckle commented "The video is perhaps the most colourful promo from a girl group for years, and we love the choreography the girls pull out on the chorus. Stooshe make being cool, classy and fun all at once look effortless."[47]

Track listing[edit]

  • Waterfalls (Remixes) - EP[49]
  1. "Waterfalls" – 3:27
  2. "Waterfalls" (Moto Blanco Remix) – 7:07
  3. "Waterfalls" (DJ Q Remix) – 5:46
  4. "Waterfalls" (Show 'n' Prove Remix) – 3:16
  5. "Waterfalls" (Acoustic) – 3:41
  • CD single
  1. "Waterfalls" - 3:28
  2. "See Me Like This" - 3:29

Chart performance[edit]

Charts (2012) Peak
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[50] 17
Ireland (IRMA)[51] 44
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[52] 20
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[53] 21

Release history[edit]

Country Release date Format
United Kingdom[49] 11 November 2012 Digital download

Other cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=xAsEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA77&dq=billboard+magazine+1995&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi38pKfkt3OAhUlD8AKHYV8DxsQ6AEIIDAB#v=onepage&q=tlc&f=false
  2. ^ a b c Benjamin, Jeff (October 22, 2013). "TLC Reflect on No. 1 Hit "Waterfalls," Detail Cee Lo's Involvement". Fuse. The Madison Square Garden Company. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  3. ^ Peck, Jamie (June 17, 2011). "Flashback Friday: TLC, 'Waterfalls'". MTV Buzzworthy. Viacom. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Lambe, Stacy (October 23, 2013). "Behind The Song: TLC's "Waterfalls" + "No Scrubs" + "Unpretty"". VH1. Viacom. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  5. ^ "MTV Movie Awards Performances: TLC, 'Waterfalls'". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  6. ^ Hayner, Chris (October 15, 2013). "TLC performs 'Waterfalls', other hits on 'Good Morning America'". Zap2it. Tribune Media Services. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Music Review: 'CrazySexyCool'". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. November 18, 1994. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Butler, Nick (June 26, 2005). "Review: TLC – CrazySexyCool". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Breaking News – VH1's '100 Greatest Songs of the 90s' Grunges Up as Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Takes the No. 1 Spot". TheFutonCritic.com. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  10. ^ "CrazySexyCool – TLC". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  11. ^ Campbell, Nigel (June 14, 2013). "Heart It Or Hate It: TLC Re-Record Iconic 'Waterfalls' Track With Namie Amuro". Instinct. Instinct Publishing Inc. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  12. ^ Angermiller, Michele Amabile (August 26, 2013). "TLC on 'We're the Millers' Use of 'Waterfalls': 'It Warmed My Heart' The group TLC reunited and performed it for the 2013 American Music Awards with Lil' Mama". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Australian-charts.com – TLC – Waterfalls". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved June 14, 2016.
  14. ^ "Austriancharts.at – TLC – Waterfalls" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  15. ^ "Ultratop.be – TLC – Waterfalls" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  16. ^ "Ultratop.be – TLC – Waterfalls" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  17. ^ Canadian Top Singles peak
  18. ^ "Lescharts.com – TLC – Waterfalls" (in French). Les classement single.
  19. ^ "Musicline.de – TLC Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  20. ^ Irish Single Chart Irishcharts.ie (Retrieved April 10, 2008)
  21. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – TLC search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  22. ^ "Charts.org.nz – TLC – Waterfalls". Top 40 Singles.
  23. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – TLC – Waterfalls". VG-lista.
  24. ^ "Archive Chart: 1995-08-19". Scottish Singles Top 40.
  25. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – TLC – Waterfalls". Singles Top 100.
  26. ^ "Swisscharts.com – TLC – Waterfalls". Swiss Singles Chart.
  27. ^ "Archive Chart: 1995-08-19" UK Singles Chart.
  28. ^ "Archive Chart: 1995-08-19" UK R&B Chart.
  29. ^ a b c d e Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved September 2, 2008)
  30. ^ 1995 Australian Singles Chart aria.com (Retrieved September 2, 2008)
  31. ^ Canada Top 50 Dance Tracks of 1995
  32. ^ "Single top 100 over 1995" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved April 19, 2010. 
  33. ^ 1995 French Singles Chart Disqueenfrance.com (Retrieved January 30, 2009)
  34. ^ 1995 Swiss Singles Chart Hitparade.ch (Retrieved September 2, 2008)
  35. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1995". Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  36. ^ a b "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles 1996". The Australian Record Industry Association Ltd. Archived from the original on November 2, 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  37. ^ 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. 
  38. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (TLC; 'Waterfalls')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  39. ^ "Top 50 Singles Chart, 3 September 1995". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  40. ^ "British single certifications – TLC – Waterfalls". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Waterfalls in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  41. ^ "American single certifications – TLC – Waterfalls". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  42. ^ Jeffrey, Don (20 January 1996). Best-selling Records of 1995. Billboard. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  43. ^ a b c Copsey, Robert (3 October 2012). "Stooshe unveil new single 'Waterfalls' - listen". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  44. ^ a b c Maynard, Trent (3 October 2012). "News: Stooshe Cover TLC's Waterfalls". 4Music. Box Television. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  45. ^ "Stooshe disown 'Waterfalls': 'We're pretending it didn't happen'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  46. ^ Corner, Lewis (26 October 2012). "Stooshe: 'Waterfalls' - Single review". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  47. ^ a b c d Hornbuckle, Jon (5 November 2012). "Singles of the week (5 November 2012)". So So Gay. So So Gay Ltd. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  48. ^ "Dance and choreography" (PDF). Bloc Agency. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  49. ^ a b "Waterfalls (Remixes) - EP". iTunes. Apple Inc. Retrieved 28 October 2012. 
  50. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Rádiós Top 40 játszási lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége.
  51. ^ "Chart Track: Week 46, 2012". Irish Singles Chart.
  52. ^ "Archive Chart: 2012-11-24". Scottish Singles Top 40.
  53. ^ "Archive Chart: 2012-11-24" UK Singles Chart.
  54. ^ "Bill Nye the Science Guy - "Lavaflows"". Youtube. Retrieved 16 Nov 2012. 
  55. ^ Merwin, Hugh (20 March 2012). "New Video Declares 'Chow Down at Chick-fil-A, Even If You're Gay'". New York. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  56. ^ http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/entertainment/20297864/six60-record-exclusive-itunes-session/
  57. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/earshot/tlc-were-millers-use-waterfalls-614570


  • The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits (fifth edition)

External links[edit]