Karen Ramirez – Troubled Girl
Gosh, the 90s were cruel. My pop hopes were raised and dashed more in this decade than in any other, as potentially amazing star after potentially amazing star teetered briefly on the edge of popularity before vanishing, leaving only a couple of great records and if they were very lucky, a solitary berth on a volume of Now That’s What I Call Music. Huge, bold launches were the thing – I remember sitting on the top deck of a no.66 bus in Glasgow and crossing the flyover at St George’s Cross in Glasgow to see a huge billboard proclaiming the arrival of Dana Dawson as a new star – and when I heard 3 is Family I thought, ‘yes, fair enough’. Ditto Hinda Hicks. And I was absolutely convinced that Ultra Naté was going to to be a superstar. Yet without exception, these and many more faded away – in mainstream chart terms at least – before they really got going. I know a lot of us were quite busy then, but this does seem like a terrible waste.
For me, the biggest travesty of the whole decade was the two hit wonder status afforded to Karen Ramirez. Now, you may remember that Karen enjoyed a top 10 hit with a cover of Everything But the Girl’s I Didn’t Know I Was Looking For Love (retitled Looking For Love to accommodate the decade’s clearly shortened attention span) – and this was an undeniably great thing, giving the proper amount of attention due to this brilliant song (which contains one of my favourite lyrics of all time – “Slap on the map of my heart you landed / I was coy but you made me candid”). Its success gave me hope that her flop debut single, Troubled Girl, might get a re-release, thereby gaining the world’s admiration and propelling Karen to a long and successful career.
I know there wasn’t much bossa nova floating around the charts in 1998, but by gosh there should have been. Troubled Girl – gorgeous, fluttery, delicate and a perfect summer hit – paid no attention to the trends of the time and therefore stood out brilliantly. To be honest March probably wasn’t the best time to release it, but had the record company given it another chance in August just after Looking For Love I’m convinced it would have sailed into the top 20 at least. But instead they waited until November and put out the far less distinctive If We Try instead, which made no.23 and proved to be Karen’s last visit to the charts.
All told, a bit of a disaster, and one that could easily have been avoided. But at least she made it onto Now 40, meaning the future generations can find her in a box in their mum’s loft and wonder what the hell was going on in the 90s.
Entered chart: 28/03/1998
Chart peak: 50
Weeks on chart: 2
Who could sing this today and have a hit? I’m always strategising an Emma Bunton comeback and this is PERFECT for her.
Great song, and a great forgotten album.