by Drew Boehmker/@IfUSeekDrew
There comes a moment in every twentysomething’s life when they realize that the dreams they held in such high regard during the fifth grade weren’t really all that special.
For me, one of those dreams was the band Dream, the early 2000s girl group best (and perhaps only) known for their #1 hit “He Loves U Not.” In the greater canon of girl pop groups, Dream is kind of the one that got away—they are (sometimes) remembered for their affiliation with Diddy, but even a cursory Google search turns up a surprisingly low amount of results for a group that once had a top 10 single in five countries.
Before we go any further, I have a confession: I used to bump the band’s 2001 debut album, It Was All a Dream, everywhere I went. On the way to the roller rink for all-night skating (clearly I wasn’t the most popular kid in elementary school), on my Discman during field trips—literally everywhere.
Yet it wasn’t until their second single (and really, only other memorable song) “This Is Me” recently popped up on Pandora that I found myself asking the question: why was I so obsessed with this barely memorable girl group? (And, perhaps just importantly, which IHOP are they all working at right now since the music thing didn’t really pan out for them?)
With that in mind, I spent the better part of an hour this week looking everywhere for my copy of It Was All a Dream so that I could spin it and write a review for this column. Once I found it, I excitedly popped it into my computer, ready to be taken back to 2001 and relive all the jams I used to bop to circa Y2K.
It was somewhere around the fifth song that I came to a stunning realization:
To my twentysomething ears, this album is not what dreams are made of.
Okay, “He Loves U Not” is still a flawless bop that will never fail to get me into the groove and make me feel some type of way. But the rest of the album is a hotter mess than the last four seasons of The Real Housewives of Atlanta combined.
For one, It Was All a Dream is one of the worst case studies in music style ADHD that I have ever heard. The fact that this album is executive produced by Diddy is evident on urban tracks like “Angel Inside” “What We Gonna Do About Us” and the remix of “He Loves U Not”—tracks that aren’t spectacular but at least seem to fit the band’s image as a more R&B-inspired girl group. But then they go and put on some B*Witched-sounding bops like “In My Dreams,” mix in some weird attempts at sounding soulful (“Pain”), and close on a weirdly religious note (“Our Prayer,” “How Long”), and listeners are left wondering just exactly what dream these girls were chasing. Mess.
Another point of contention: some of the songs are so. f*cking. long. Maybe it’s just because songs tend to be a bit shorter today in pursuit of becoming that perfect three minute radio single, but for me most pop songs that last longer than five minutes are just all kinds of offensive—and It Was All a Dream contains three. Making it through songs like “In My Dreams” and “Mr. Telephone Man” was roughly the pop music equivalent of sitting through The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions (and not in a good way)—which is especially a shame because both of these songs could have been standouts if they had been shortened by a minute (or three).
For an added bit of comedy, even if you don’t listen to this album all the way through I absolutely implore you to listen to the three interludes/speaking parts contained on the album. The first, “Reality,” (click below) features an unintentionally hilarious bit of melodrama in which one of the girls in the group fails to face the reality that her boyfriend is cheating on her with his next-door neighbor (they went to the mall together? OMG scandalous!). The second, “Jordan,” sends a kind of weirdly anti-feminist message in which each of the girls leaves a message on the answering machine of a man they are apparently all dating at the same time. The final interlude, “Our Prayer,” then sees the girls praising God for all of the blessings he has sent their way (I promise I am not making this up).
The album’s only other saving grace comes in “Do You Wanna Dance,” an excellent R&B-infused dance track that is sadly buried near the end of It Was All a Dream. This is the only track on It Was All a Dream in which it sounds like the girls are actually having fun, which is a shame; if they had done more songs like this, Dream probably wouldn’t have gone the way of America Online.
But as we all know, the band’s fifteen minutes (fourteen of which were probably spent on TRL and Say What? Karaoke) eventually ran out and, in the end, their fame really was all a dream.
P.S. Upon further research, it seems the band semi-reunited in 2008 under the name “Lady Phoenix” and attempted to launch a reality show featuring auditions for new members, but the show wasn’t picked up by any networks and the groups re-disbanded shortly after that. Who knew?
P.P.S. If you really want an extra dose of nostalgia, check out an archived version of the band’s website from back in 2000. I don’t know about you, but that banner makes me want to run, not walk, to my nearest Claire’s for some karma beads and other accessories.
Final Verdict: This album is not what dreams are made of.
Essential Tracks to Check Out: “He Loves U Not” (one of the best throwback jams of all time), “Do You Wanna Dance,” “This Is Me” (although the Diddy remix is far superior), “Angel Inside”