Aah, the ’90s, the period when our generation looks back wistfully at recent times gone past (untainted by Yewtree misdemeanours) and admire the attitude, drive and unfiltered musings framing several of the period’s biggest artists.
So MTV prove once again how bang on trend they are in producing a cheap and not so careful biopic based on the first major commercially viable R’n’B girl group, TLC. Entitled ‘CrazySexyCool’ as a subtle nod to their finest work, we fundamentally have a TV movie of the all-you-need-is-swag-&-attitude variety; whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (especially because TLC never took any liberties from scrubs or “busters”) much of the problem is based on the lack of wider detail or attention involved.
Take the formation of TLC as an example, in the movie it just basically happens. One of the original members doesn’t fit in so she is swiftly replaced by another girl who is even hotter, so hot in fact that she’s becomes ‘Chilli’. As this happens in the space of a few minutes a bit more detail would have been far more involving for the audience and any aspiring girl groups worldwide.
If certain details are not really focused on due to the extremely tight time requirements then at least we are treated to a thrilling band VS management saga. This confrontation allows the viewer to quickly discover that the music industry is founded on secrets and lies, as TLC discover time and time again (which is basically scene by scene). When TLC discover, for example that they’re not really entitled to any of the royalties from their pitiful studio contracts they’re simply told: ‘To be honest, we never thought you’d sell that big.’ And those zingers are littered throughout the script as well as a list of heavy themes set as abortions and miscarriages, a sickle-cell diagnosis, infighting and, of course toxic relationships. With all the drama at least we have the wise narration to show how TLC survived: ‘Everytime we got knocked down fighting, we got right back up because we knew we had each other’s backs.’
The highest points of this budget TV movie lie in the kaleidoscopic backdrop of colours, costumes, funky dancing and the use of backstage footage all making the whole film look more intimate and realistic. Sadly, people will no doubt leave this film feeling that these girls were slaves to the system rather than slaves to the rhythm, getting paid very little and never being wildly happy with their lack of actual power. Whatever the circumstances, this movie is a great reason to remind ourselves of how great TLC really were, and why their music needs to be played in 4, 3, 2, 1…