Here we go. It’s November 1st and it’s time to start my 30 posts in 30 days November blogging experiment. This is something I’ve done (or attempted to do) for many years now and I think that I finally stumbled upon the winning formula. Every day for the next 30 days, I’ll be writing about a song. Sometimes I’ll have a lot to say, sometimes just a little, but it’ll be something. I’m excited to do this because some of the songs have been selected by friends. They’ll get a shout out when their song is chosen. But today, the song choice is mine, and I’ve chosen “I Can’t Wait” by Nu Shooz.
Released in the summer of 1986, “I Can’t Wait” is one of those pop songs that had a quiet but ultimately significant influence on me and the development of my pop music tastes. The summer of 1986 was the summer before I started high school and when I really started listening to more than just Olivia Newton-John (although my Madonna fandom had started the year prior, so I was well on my way alrady.) Loaded with so many memorable hit songs, it was a time in my life when I had nothing better to do than listen to American Top 40 countdown and thinking, naively, that every song had its time to be #1.
“I Can’t Wait” was one of those quirky songs that really connected with me that lazy summer. With a goofy video featuring a dog wearing sunglasses, it was in constant rotation on MTV. I bought a lot of 45s that summer, but amazingly, “I Can’t Wait” was not one of them. Instead, I actually picked up their album Poolside – probably from Columbia House or something like that. Imagine my disappointment when the version of “I Can’t Wait” was not the version I was used to hearing on the radio, but rather, an almost 6 minute album mix that went on for way too long and annoyed me so much that it colored my impression of the entire album.
For whatever reason, this longer version of “I Can’t Wait” was, for the longest time, the only one you could find pretty much anywhere. I eventually found the radio edit on a compilation CD that I picked up 1995-ish called Only Dance: 1985-1989. (Side note: that was SUCH a good CD.) As we entered the digital music era, the radio edit was all but impossible to find, so much so that I wasn’t going to include “I Can’t Wait” on this list if I couldn’t find the radio edit on Spotify. Amazingly, I found it on the soundtrack to a movie I had never heard of – Son of Rambow – and its spot on this list was sealed.
I still have Poolside on vinyl, but I haven’t listened to it in forever. The other day, one of the songs from Poolside shuffled up in my iTunes – “Don’t Let Me Be The One” – and that combined with knowing this would be my first post in November has really gotten my interested in listening to more Nu Shooz. They weren’t really able to follow up “I Can’t Wait” with another big chart hit, although the follow-up single “Point of No Return” did hit the top 40. But if you’re gonna be a one-hit wonder, you’d do worse than that one-hit being “I Can’t Wait.”
Two final thoughts on “I Can’t Wait” – first, I love the acoustic version that Nu Shooz did of the song in 2006, twenty years after its original release. The arrangement gives the song a bit of a jazz feel that is the last thing I would have ever expected. And second, I love how it is sampled in Vanessa Williams’ “Happiness.”