Hinda Hicks – My Remedy
The 90s were truly a golden era of female solo singers and whilst many of their careers were short, I still treasure the CDs I hoovered up from Woolworths during that time. The pop/R&B scene in particular was operating in a parallel universe to Britpop during a fair chunk of the 90s and I was always more of a pop/R&B boy than an indie kid – this, despite my carefully nurtured image which entailed wearing Converse, stripy t-shirts and some surfer beads.
It was at the end of the Britpop era, and just as the U.S. R&B takeover had begun, that I first heard Hinda Hicks’ If You Want Me. It showed a brilliant pop sensibility and had great vocals (let’s be honest, a combination not always guaranteed). It was on pretty heavy rotation on the music channels and it became a fairly respectable no.25 hit in the UK.
More success was to follow, with three more top 40 hits from her debut album Hinda; You Think You Own Me (no.19), I Wanna Be Your Lady (no.14, with Shaznay Lewis on backing vocals) and Truly (no.31). The decade culminated with three MOBO award nominations (Best R&B Act, Best Newcomer and Best Album) and two Brit nominations (Best Female Newcomer and Best British Female). Heady times indeed.
It was all the more surprising then that My Remedy, released in 2000 as the lead single from her second album Everything To Me, managed to reach only a paltry no.61 on the UK charts. It certainly didn’t help that the second album received a very limited release before it was completely aborted due to the merger of Island Records with Universal.
This confused promotion was evident in the cover art for the CD single, where Hinda bizarrely sports a cowboy hat. Clearly going for the ‘Shania Twain has sold a bucketload and the cowboy look is working for Madonna‘ approach, it bears no relationship to the song contained within. But even so, the chart failure of My Remedy still remains something of a mystery to this day.
And what a song and vocal performance it is. A classic mid tempo pop/R&B concoction with a faintly dark and unsettling tone. I’m always a sucker for intense, slightly claustrophobic pop songs and this ticks all those boxes. Ostensibly a simple love song, scratch below the surface and a story about infatuation and unrequited love emerges, and some of the lyrics really go to some uncomfortable places. Just look at these lines from the middle eight – “Don’t you think you deserve someone who gives everything to you? /So trust in me, I’ll soothe your heart with my remedy / Baby can’t you see? Piece of me /Gotta make you see / Gotta make you see.”
It’s that ‘gotta make you see’ line that kills me every time. It suggests the focus of Hinda’s affection may not want her remedy quite as much as she’d like him to. Hinda totally inhabits this song and in particular I’ve always marvelled at the note she hits at around the 2.53 mark. It’s one of my favourite pop moments.
Unusually for the time, the video is also a high quality affair. Hinda wafts around languorously in the Tunisian desert, while her love interest seems to charm a snake, before, in some rather heavy-handed symbolism, Hinda purposefully rides off on black stallion. It simultaneously reminds me of Sade’s Never As Good As The First Time and Paula Abdul’s My Love Is For Real – it’s all fabulously erotic and nonsensical, so amazing obviously.
The old adage that lighting doesn’t strike twice was true and chart success on the level of the first album was never to be achieved again, but Hinda has continued to intermittently record ever since and those songs are well worth checking out too. I think the campaign for a new album starts right here.
Entered chart: 14/10/2000
Chart peak: 61
Weeks on chart: 2
Who could sing this today and have a hit? To be honest, the vocals can’t really be topped but I’d quite like to hear BANKS sing this. Her take on intense indie R&B is a good fit, or maybe even Jessie Ware. I’d love to hear what she could do with these lyrics.