Waterfalls (TLC song)

Waterfalls (TLC song)

Single by TLC
from the album CrazySexyCool
B-side Remix
Released May 29, 1995 (US)
August 5, 1995 (UK)
Format CD single, CD maxi
Recorded Q3 1994[1]
at D.A.R.P. Studios
Doppler Recording Studios
Bosstown Recording Studios
Genre R&B, hip hop, soul
Length 4:18 (Single Version)
3:46 (Radio Edit w/o Rap)
4:39 (Album Version)
Label LaFace
Writer(s) Marqueze Etheridge, Organized Noize
Producer(s) Organized Noize
Certification Platinum (RIAA)
TLC singles chronology
"Red Light Special"
"Diggin' On You"
Music video
"Waterfalls" on YouTube
CrazySexyCool track listing
"Red Light Special"

"Waterfalls" is a song by American recording group CrazySexyCool (1994), featuring production by the latter. The song was released as the third single from the album on May 29, 1995 in the United States, followed by a United Kingdom release on August 5, 1995.

Often considered the group's signature song, "Waterfalls" reached the top five in many territories. The song spent seven weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, giving the group their second U.S. number one. The song was the number two song of the year on Billboard's 1995 year-end chart. "Waterfalls" received critical acclaim, earning two Grammy nominations at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards in 1996 for Record of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The song borrows its central metaphor and uses nearly identical lyrics to the Paul McCartney song of the same title, released 15 years earlier in 1980 on McCartney's album McCartney II.

The song famously tackled issues of illegal drug trade, promiscuity and HIV/AIDS. The accompanying music video for the song reflected its socially-conscious lyrics. With a million-dollar budget, the video was an MTV staple credited for giving the single much of its success. The video won four MTV Video Music Awards in 1995.

Song information

"Waterfalls" is an Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins perform the song with Lopes, who also provides a rap. The background vocals are performed by the members of TLC, as well as Debra Killings and Cee-Lo Green. Speaking of Green's involvement, Watkins said, "He was in Goodie Mob, we grew up together, we go way back. He did and it was amazing! I love his voice."[2]

The lyrics of the song reference 1990s issues such as violence associated with illegal drug trade and the HIV/AIDS epidemic.[3] At the end of the second verse, the group sings, "His health is fading and he doesn't know why / Three letters took him to his final resting place." Watkins said that it was important for the group to "get the message across without seeming like preaching."[4]

Left Eye's rap focuses on her personal life, which was highly publicised in the media during the nineties, but also reflects on drug abuse, mainly cocaine. The rap also contains elements of gospel as she declares "...And like his promise is true, only my faith can undo, the many chances I blew, to bring my life to anew".

Music video

TLC had to force Antonio L.A. Reid to get the budget for the music video,[4] which was filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood from June 8–9, 1995. The music video was directed by F. Gary Gray and features Ella Joyce, Bokeem Woodbine, Shyheim, Paul J. Alessi and Gabrielle Bramford.

Like the song itself, the video tackles issues of illegal drug trade and HIV/AIDS, two crises that plagued the 1990s. A young man (Shyheim) goes against his mother's advice to stop selling drugs and is killed before a drug deal. In other scenes, a woman in a relationship is shown convincing her partner (Alessi) not to use a condom. Afterwards, he looks in the mirror and sees that he has an early symptom of AIDS visible on his face, in the form of Kaposi's sarcoma. He then sees a small photo frame on the dresser, showing all the people she has had sex with previously. The video also intercuts scenes of liquified versions of TLC performing to the song while standing on top of an ocean and performing in front of a real waterfall. At the end of the video, the young man involved with drug gangs appears. He tries to reach out to his mother as she is walking up the stairs to her house, but he disappears. The couple both fade away, as they both die from AIDS.

The video won four awards at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards: Video of the Year, Best Group Video, Best R&B Video, and the Viewer's Choice Award. Watkins stated in retrospect that the "video spoke for a whole epidemic."[2]

Live performances

The song was performed at many awards shows, including the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards and the 1996 Grammy Awards. The group performed "Waterfalls" at the 1995 MTV Movie Awards wearing black tops and silver pants. The performance "was theatrical and kept true to the lyrical story."[5] They also performed the song at MTV's 20th Anniversary on August 1, 2001, making it Left Eye's final performance with the group before her death. In September 1995, TLC performed "Waterfalls" in a medley with "Creep" and "Diggin' on You" on the BBC's chart programme Top of the Pops.

Remaining members T-Boz and Chilli performed the song along with Alicia Keys along with fellow girl groups En Vogue and SWV at the 2008 BET Awards. Thomas and Watkins appeared on Good Morning America on October 15, 2013 to perform the song during promotion for the greatest hits 20 and the VH1 biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.[6]

On November 24, 2013, TLC performed at the 2013 American Music Awards with special guest Lil Mama, who performed Left Eye's rap in tribute to her.

Critical reception

"Waterfalls" has received generally favorable reviews from music critics. [8]

The song was nominated for two Grammys at the 1996 Grammy Awards: Record of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. It was also ranked 13th in VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years and 8th on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 1990s.[9] In 2010, Billboard awarded the song the top position of summer songs in 1995.


Jeff Benjamin of Fuse wrote that the track was "far more than just another pop hit: The track told a cautionary tale of HIV and AIDS, and its video depicted a man who didn't wear a condom with his girlfriend and later watched his body degenerate in the mirror."[2] Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that "Waterfalls, "with its gently insistent horns and guitar lines and instantly memorable chorus, […] ranks as one of the classic R&B songs of the '90s."[10] Sputnikmusic's Butler asserted that "any list of the best singles of the 90s that does not include this in the top 15 - at least - is among the worst lists ever written."[8]

Thomas and Watkins rerecorded "Waterfalls" with Japanese pop singer Namie Amuro in 2013 for the song's twentieth anniversary.[11] The song peaked at number twelve on Japan's Hot 100 chart. That same year, the song was referenced in the film We're the Millers as Will Poulter performs Lopes's rap.[12] The song also appears in the film's end credits.

Track listings

US/International CD single

  1. "Waterfalls" (Single Version) – 4:18
  2. "Waterfalls" (ONP Remix) – 4:36
  3. "Waterfalls" (DARP Remix) – 4:28
  4. "Waterfalls" (Instrumental) – 4:39

European CD Single

  1. "Waterfalls" (No Rap Edit) - 3:32
  2. "Waterfalls" (Single Version) – 4:18
  3. "Waterfalls" (ONP Remix) – 4:36
  4. "Waterfalls" (DARP Remix) – 4:28
  5. "Waterfalls" (Instrumental) – 4:39

2001 US re-release CD single

  1. "Waterfalls" (Single Edit) – 4:18
  2. "Waterfalls" (DARP Remix) – 4:28
  3. "Waterfalls" (Instrumental) – 4:42
  4. "Waterfalls" (ONP Remix) – 4:35
  5. "Waterfalls" (ONP Instrumental) – 4:37
  6. "Waterfalls" (Album Version) – 4:39

Waterfalls (20th Anniversary Edition) Digital Single

  1. Waterfalls (20th Anniversary Edition) featuring Namie Amuro– 4:35

Charts and certifications

Chart successions

Preceded by
"Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" by Bryan Adams
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
July 8, 1995 – August 19, 1995 (7 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Kiss from a Rose" by Seal
Preceded by
"How Deep Is Your Love" by Portrait
New Zealand (RIANZ) number-one single
August 11, 1995 – September 1, 1995 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson
Preceded by
"You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson
Swiss number-one single
October 8, 1995 (1-week)
October 29, 1995 (1-week)
Succeeded by
"You Are Not Alone" by Michael Jackson
Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio featuring L.V.

Stooshe version

Single by Stooshe
B-side "See Me Like This"
Released 11 November 2012
Format Digital download
Genre R&B, hip hop soul
Length 3:29
Label Warner Music UK
Writer(s) Marqueze Etheridge, Organized Noize
Producer(s) Future Cut
Stooshe singles chronology
"Black Heart"

"Waterfalls" was recorded by British girl group Stooshe originally recorded for their self-titled debut album, released through Warner Music UK on 11 November 2012.[30] Stooshe chose to release a cover of "Waterfalls" after meeting TLC member T-Boz, who had previously congratulated them on their acoustic cover of the song.[31] The band have turned the track's rap, performed by Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, into a three-part harmony.[31] It was announced in April 2013 that the group's cover of "Waterfalls" would not be appearing on their debut album, with member Karis Anderson claiming they "are pretending [it] didn't happen".[32]

Critical reception

4Music's Trent Maynard stated that Stooshe's take on "Waterfalls" has "smooth, layered harmonies and a easy-breezy barbershop feel."[31] Digital Spy's Lewis Corner gave the song three out of five stars and commented "It must be said that soft flourishes of brass and light guitar strums blend with the girls' on-point vocals smoother than a Starbucks cappuccino. However, after proving themselves as one of 2012's most promising original pop acts, covering a much-loved '90s anthem still feels like a strange move."[33] Jon Hornbuckle from So So Gay gave the song four stars and stated "Covering a song as famous as TLC's global hit 'Waterfalls' could backfire on a girl group, but Stooshe shouldn't be worried. Their take on the classic 1995 hit is yet another opportunity for them to showcase their fantastic voices and is a sure-fire hit, with its radio friendly vibes and sing-along chorus."[34] He thought the song sounded "fresh" and Stooshe had managed to put their own stamp on the track.[34] Hornbuckle added "If only all cover tracks were like this – a re-interpretation, rather than a copy-and-paste cover."[34]

Music video

Stooshe released an official lyric video for the track on 3 October, before unveiling the official music video on T4 on 7 October.[30] The video, directed by Matt Stawski, features cameo appearances from fellow TLC members T-Boz and Chilli.[30][35] Hornbuckle commented "The video is perhaps the most colourful promo from a girl group for years, and we love the choreography the girls pull out on the chorus. Stooshe make being cool, classy and fun all at once look effortless."[34] As of December 2013, the music video was removed from Stooshe's official YouTube channel.

Track listing

  • Waterfalls (Remixes) - EP[36]
  1. "Waterfalls" – 3:27
  2. "Waterfalls" (Moto Blanco Remix) – 7:07
  3. "Waterfalls" (DJ Q Remix) – 5:46
  4. "Waterfalls" (Show 'n' Prove Remix) – 3:16
  5. "Waterfalls" (Acoustic) – 3:41
  • CD single
  1. "Waterfalls" - 3:28
  2. "See Me Like This" - 3:29

Chart performance

Charts (2012) Peak
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[37] 17
Ireland (IRMA)[38] 44
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[39] 20
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[40] 21

Release history

Country Release date Format
United Kingdom[36] 11 November 2012 Digital download

Other cover versions


  1. ^ v
  2. ^ a b c Benjamin, Jeff (October 22, 2013). "TLC Reflect on No. 1 Hit "Waterfalls," Detail Cee Lo's Involvement".  
  3. ^ Peck, Jamie (June 17, 2011). "'"Flashback Friday: TLC, 'Waterfalls.  
  4. ^ a b Lambe, Stacy (October 23, 2013). """Behind The Song: TLC’s "Waterfalls" + "No Scrubs" + "Unpretty.  
  5. ^ "'"MTV Movie Awards Performances: TLC, 'Waterfalls.  
  6. ^ Hayner, Chris (October 15, 2013). "'"TLC performs 'Waterfalls', other hits on 'Good Morning America.  
  7. ^ "'"Music Review: 'CrazySexyCool.  
  8. ^ a b c Butler, Nick (June 26, 2005). "Review: TLC – CrazySexyCool".  
  9. ^ "Breaking News – VH1's '100 Greatest Songs of the 90s' Grunges Up as Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Takes the No. 1 Spot". TheFutonCritic.com. Retrieved 2012-01-12. 
  10. ^ "CrazySexyCool – TLC".  
  11. ^ Campbell, Nigel (June 14, 2013). "Heart It Or Hate It: TLC Re-Record Iconic 'Waterfalls' Track With Namie Amuro".  
  12. ^ Angermiller, Michele Amabile (August 26, 2013). "TLC on 'We're the Millers' Use of 'Waterfalls': 'It Warmed My Heart' The group TLC reunited and performed it for the 2013 American Music Awards with Lil' Mama".  
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Waterfalls", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved April 10, 2008)
  14. ^ "TLC singles, German Singles Chart" (in German). musicline. Retrieved April 19, 2010. 
  15. ^ Irish Single Chart Irishcharts.ie (Retrieved April 10, 2008)
  16. ^ a b "Single top 100 over 1995" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved April 19, 2010. 
  17. ^ UK Singles Chart Chartstats.com (Retrieved April 10, 2008)
  18. ^ a b c d e Billboard Allmusic.com (Retrieved September 2, 2008)
  19. ^ 1995 Australian Singles Chart aria.com (Retrieved September 2, 2008)
  20. ^ Canada Top 50 Dance Tracks of 1995
  21. ^ 1995 French Singles Chart Disqueenfrance.com (Retrieved January 30, 2009)
  22. ^ 1995 Swiss Singles Chart Hitparade.ch (Retrieved September 2, 2008)
  23. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1995". Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  24. ^ Geoff Mayfield (December 25, 1999). 1999 The Year in Music Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade – The listing of Top Pop Albums of the '90s & Hot 100 Singles of the '90s.  
  25. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (TLC; 'Waterfalls')" (in German).  
  26. ^ "British single certifications – TLC – Waterfalls".   Enter Waterfalls in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
  27. ^ Justin, Myers (28/03/2014). Official Charts Flashback 1999: TLC – No Scrubs. Official Charts. Retrieved 2014-01-05. 
  28. ^ "American single certifications – TLC – Waterfalls".   If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  29. ^ Jeffrey, Don (20 January 1996). Best-selling Records of 1995.  
  30. ^ a b c Copsey, Robert (3 October 2012). "Stooshe unveil new single 'Waterfalls' - listen".  
  31. ^ a b c Maynard, Trent (3 October 2012). "News: Stooshe Cover TLC's Waterfalls".  
  32. ^ "'"Stooshe disown 'Waterfalls': 'We're pretending it didn't happen.  
  33. ^ Corner, Lewis (26 October 2012). "Stooshe: 'Waterfalls' - Single review".  
  34. ^ a b c d Hornbuckle, Jon (5 November 2012). "Singles of the week (5 November 2012)".  
  35. ^ "Dance and choreography". Bloc Agency. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  36. ^ a b "Waterfalls (Remixes) - EP".  
  37. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ – Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége" (in Hungarian). Rádiós Top 40 játszási lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége.
  38. ^ "Chart Track: Week 46, 2012". Irish Singles Chart.
  39. ^ "Archive Chart: 2012-11-24". Scottish Singles Top 40.
  40. ^ "Archive Chart: 2012-11-24" UK Singles Chart.
  41. ^ """Bill Nye the Science Guy - "Lavaflows. Youtube. Retrieved 16 Nov 2012. 
  42. ^ Merwin, Hugh (20 March 2012). "New Video Declares ‘Chow Down at Chick-fil-A, Even If You’re Gay’".  
  43. ^ http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/entertainment/20297864/six60-record-exclusive-itunes-session/
  44. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/earshot/tlc-were-millers-use-waterfalls-614570


  • The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits (fifth edition)

External links

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