Throwback Thursday: TLC – “Waterfalls”
On the 17th anniversary of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ passing, it’s only right that we take a look back at one of TLC’s signature hits, “Waterfalls,” which also has one of Left Eye’s best verses. The song was the third single from the group’s blockbuster album, CrazySexyCool, and spent seven weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Written by Marqueze Etheridge, Organized Noize and Left Eye, “Waterfalls” is one of the finest examples of socially conscious popular music. Its lyrics are primarily about risky behaviors that people engage in — the waterfalls, so to speak — and how they can lead to their untimely demise. The song is notable for touching on the subject of HIV/AIDS, which was claiming lives at an all-time high around the time the song was released.
“Waterfalls” was nominated for two Grammys in 1996, including Record of the Year, and its iconic music video won the group four moonmen at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year. TLC’s Video of the Year win was the first time a black act took home the big prize at the VMAs, which is weird when you consider that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was nominated for the award in 1984. The racism jumped out.
In any case, “Waterfalls” — the song and the video — have aged impeccably and I feel fortunate to have been alive when it was released.