First things first: I forget who requested this, but someone anonymous in the comments said that the mp3 file of Bananarama's "Live in the Sun" that I uploaded a while back keeps skipping. I'm sorry; here you go!!
Alrighty then! :) Jennifer Love Hewitt. Best known as an actress, first in the '90s TV show Party of Five and teen movies like the kick-ass Can't Hardly Wait, and now in the hit CBS show The Ghost Whisperer, she has also had a less-successful singing career. I wouldn't rank her voice among the best by any means, but it's usually pleasant to listen to, and at times she exhibits more vocal range and power than I expected. Amazingly, she has managed to release four albums. The first, 1992's Love Songs, is from when she was a little kid and was released only in Japan. Two non-descript mid-'90s U.S. albums on Atlantic Records followed in order to capitalize off her television fame, notable mostly for her covering a Bread song and failing to create a dance craze with "Let's Go Bang". I don't have those albums, so we'll move past them.
Between those albums and her last, she released what I believe was possibly her biggest hit, "How Do I Deal" off the I Still Know What You Did Last Summer soundtrack in early 1990, the movie which she also starred in. Her music career took the back burner again until 2002, when she signed to teen pop incubators Jive Records (ironically when the boom had passed), hooked up with singer-songwriter Meredith Brooks of "Bitch" fame, and released the album BareNaked, which was either a symbol of Love pouring her heart out in song (she co-wrote six songs and wrote one by herself) or a crass marketing attempt for people to buy it in hopes that there would be a nude poster inside. (There wasn't.) Either way, the album flopped, like her others, and she returned to focusing on her acting. She was probably one of the better actress-to-singer crossovers, not that that says much; i'd definitely rather have a new CD of hers instead of one by Paris Hilton.
How Do I Deal - Can you believe this song isn't on U.S. iTunes? Most likely due to label issues, this song hasn't shown up on any of her albums, and the CD single is long out of print. It's kind of like post-Lillith Fair female singer-songwriter meets teen pop, with both acoustic guitars and electric ones. It's catchy. Sorry for the abrupt cutoff, but the only place I got it from is a mixed MTV compilation (that surprisingly also includes an extended version of "5, 6, 7, 8" by Steps!). Can I Go Now - The second and final single off BareNaked, that did even worse than the first. Like several songs off the album, it has a mild wanna-be reggae backing beat underneath the pop rock, but I think it works here best. First Time - Another mid-tempo, sounds a bit like Michelle Branch, who was popular around that time. The "doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo"s near the end add a fun touch. Stronger - The song written solely by Jennifer is way better than I was expecting. It still has the same basic formula as most of the other tracks, but with more of a gospel influence to go with the uplifting lyrics about someone getting out of a bad relationship. Barenaked - Title track, first single, and minor hit. Not too fast, but not too slow. Some energy is added by the flourishes of organs and horns, especially in the chorus. Just Try - Japan only bonus track time! I think this song was good enough to make the worldwide release, especially over the pointless remake of Janis Joplin's rendition of "Me and Bobby McGee" included on the American release. Yes, it's yet another mid-tempo (hmm...maybe varying the styles would have helped, but while the ballads are okay, most of the semi-up-tempo songs - which aren't really that much faster than these - are somewhat subpar.), but it's more flirty, floaty, and airy. It resembles something Mandy Moore would have recorded around that same period.