FanMail is the third studio album by American girl group TLC. It was released on February 23, 1999, by LaFace Records and Arista Records. The title of the album is a tribute to their fans who sent them fan mail during their hiatus. FanMail debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling approximately 318,000 copies in its first week of release, and spent five weeks at number one.
|Studio album by|
|Released||February 23, 1999|
|Singles from FanMail|
The album received eight nominations at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards, including one for Album of the Year, and won three. As of 2000, the album has been certified six-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. FanMail is TLC's second best-selling album after 1994's CrazySexyCool. To promote the album, TLC embarked on their first concert tour, the FanMail Tour.
After the members of TLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 3, 1995, the girls went on a recording hiatus. The suit was eventually settled on November 25, 1996. Preliminary work on TLC's third studio album was delayed when friction arose between the group and their main producer Dallas Austin, who was by this time dating group member Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and helping to raise their son Tron. Austin wanted $4.2 million and creative control to work on the project, resulting in a stand-off between the producer and the artists.
TLC eventually entered recording studios in April 1998 to start work on their then-untitled third album with producer Dallas Austin. While Austin contributed most to the album and served as its executive producer, TLC also worked with long-term producers Babyface and L.A. Reid, as well as Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The album was scheduled for release on November 10, 1998 but was pushed back to February 23, 1999.
The album took on a new world, futuristic style, which was highly popular throughout the late 1990s to early 2000s. This style was effectively portrayed in the album's most popular song "No Scrubs", along with the music video, which embraces a modern emphasis on female strength and independence. The album also featured a custom font design, cover art with decode-able binary code, along with pictures of the group members in metallic skin tones. The album's CD insert folds out to form a large poster featuring a picture of TLC and the names of thousands of people who sent them fan mail along their career. A limited edition of the album was released, and had an insert with a lenticular version of the cover placed in front of the original booklet in the jewel case. The album contained several tracks featuring vocals by the computer modulated voice Vic-E (Vikki), a talking android later featured in the FanMail Tour.
During the recording of FanMail, the group was offered many songs that would later be recorded by other artists, such as 702's hit single "Where My Girls At?", Whitney Houston's "Heartbreak Hotel", and most notably, "...Baby One More Time", which was then famously recorded by Britney Spears for her debut album of the same name and released as her debut single which launched her career. T-Boz commented on rejecting the song to MTV saying "I was like, I like the song but do I think it's a hit? Do I think it's TLC? I'm not saying 'hit me baby.' No disrespect to Britney. It's good for her. But was I going to say 'hit me baby one more time'? Hell no! Every song isn't good for each artist, and when you're a real artist you know what you believe in and what you really want to sing. So, I'm clear that it was a hit, but I'm also clear that it wasn't for TLC." Chilli also added that the group was "not just passing up hits" and it "didn't feel [the song] represented the band appropriately."
The album title is a tribute to TLC's fans after their five-year hiatus. The title came from group member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who also coined the group's first two album titles, Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip and CrazySexyCool. There is an explicit version and a clean version replacing certain curse words, some sexual remarks, and some racial slurs. The explicit version comes with a Parental Advisory sticker, their first album to do so. FanMail was the group's last album released during Lopes' lifetime, before she died on April 25, 2002 as she was killed in the car crash prior to the release of their fourth studio album. Lopes co-wrote five of the album's songs, while Watkins also co-wrote five and Thomas co-wrote one.
The album received critical acclaim. Rolling Stone declared FanMail "equal parts steely bitch and sweet sister, superfreak and misty romantic, self-centered coffee achiever and spiritualized earth mama."
FanMail debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 and spent five non-consecutive weeks at number one. It also debuted at number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan, it has sold 4.7 million copies in the United States, and has been certified six-times platinum by the RIAA for shipping six million copies. Internationally, the album reached the top 10 in New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
"No Scrubs" was the official lead single and topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for four consecutive weeks, becoming TLC's biggest commercial success in years. It also ranked at number two on Billboard's Year-End Hot 100 of 1999.
Follow-up single "Unpretty" also topped the Billboard Hot 100, spending three weeks at number one and placing at number 20 on the Year-End Hot 100.
Originally, "Shout" was planned to be a single in the United States, while "Dear Lie" would be a single internationally, but only the latter would end up being released as a single with an accompanying music video. It peaked at number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 . The album has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
At the 2000 Grammy Awards, the album received eight nominations, including one for Album of the Year. The album won three awards. Singer-songwriter Kyla covered "I Miss You So Much" for her sixth album Heartfelt and rapper/singer Drake recorded a cover of the opening track, "FanMail", for his song, "I Get Lonely Too". A remix features Jeremih, while another extended mix and mashup features TLC. The songs are featured on The FanMail Mixtape and It's Never Enough mixtape on DatPiff.com.
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|2000||FanMail||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|Best R&B Album||Won|
|"No Scrubs"||Record of the Year||Nominated|
|Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals||Won|
|Best R&B Song||Won|
|"Unpretty"||Song of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals||Nominated|
|Best Video – Short Form||Nominated|
|2.||"The Vic-E Interpretation – Interlude"||Austin||Cyptron||0:19|
|4.||"Whispering Playa – Interlude"||Austin||0:52|
|5.||"No Scrubs"||Kevin "She'kspere" Briggs||3:34|
|6.||"I'm Good at Being Bad"||Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis||5:39|
|7.||"If They Knew"||4:04|
|8.||"I Miss You So Much"||4:56|
|12.||"Come On Down"||Diane Warren||4:17|
|14.||"Communicate – Interlude"||Austin||Austin||0:51|
|17.||"Don't Pull Out on Me Yet"||Austin||4:33|
|Japanese edition bonus tracks|
|18.||"U in Me"||Austin||Austin||3:50|
Digital download trackEdit
- "I Need That" (MP3.com exclusive track) – 3:52
- Released online by TLC on MP3.com to promote the FanMail Tour. Produced by Rico Lumpkins for PWPX, LLC. Written by R. Lumpkins, L. Lopes, and S. Chunn. Left Eye's rap was later expanded and rerecorded on the track "Gimme Some" from Toni Braxton's album The Heat as well as being completely reused and shortened on the track "Whoop De Woo" from the compilation Now and Forever: The Hits, originally intended for the group's fourth album 3D.
- ^a signifies a co-producer.
- ^b signifies an additional vocal producer.
- "I'm Good at Being Bad" contains elements from "Slippin' into Darkness" by War.
- On initial pressings of the album, "Whispering Playa – Interlude" featured a sample of "Cold Blooded" by Rick James playing in the background. The sample was removed on subsequent editions, likely due to copyright reasons, with the background music being a clip of another TLC song, "U in Me", instead.
- The song "I'm Good at Being Bad" originally featured interpolated lyrics from Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby", but the interpolated lyrics were later removed on later pressings of the explicit version. They were never removed from the clean version of the album.
- Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins – vocals, lead vocals
- Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes – vocals, rapping
- Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas – vocals, lead vocals
- Dallas Austin – arranger, background vocals, producer, executive producer
- Tameka Cottle – arranger, background vocals
- Kandi Burruss – arranger, background vocals
- Babyface – Synclavier, acoustic guitar, guitar, keyboards, producer, drum programming, executive producer
- Jermaine Dupri – producer, mixing
- Debra Killings – background vocals
- Necia Bray- background vocals
- Ricciano "Ricco" Lumpkins – producer, engineer, keyboards, Synclavier, drum programming
|Canada (Music Canada)||4× Platinum||400,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||15,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Platinum||50,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||6× Platinum||6,000,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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