Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles of the 90s

There’s something wearyingly earnest about Lauryn Hill, but then there’s something irresistibly peppy and kinetic about “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” which lets you forget all her chic authenticity and forgive the reactionary return-of-the-real marketing and turns the song into a bracing piece of finger-wagging righteous pop. “Doo-Wop” doesn’t sound much like doo-wop but that’s probably because doo-wop itself was never an easy thing to get a handle on, being too sonically subtle and idea-rich and culturally overlooked to ever really settle. So “Doo-Wop” is actually like doo-wop in that it sounds shaken up, Lauryn breathlessly rapping to keep pace with her own ideas as much as with that damned insistent piano.

“Doo-Wop” also works because it plays down the stern soul aspects of Lauryn Hill and plays up the hooky ones, again just as well since if you’re going to have lyrics this didactic – “How you going to win if you ain’t right within?” etc. – you’d better have something in the background that bounces as mightily and euphorically as “Doo-Wop”‘s main riff. Points also awarded for general even-handedness – women don’t sleep with useless men, men don’t be useless, then all shall be well. Hard to disagree with the sentiment, ditto the song.