Martha Wash is a curious example of someone who has had an enormous impact on music but isn’t as well-known as one would expect based on that. To an extent, this is because people sometimes used her recordings on hit songs without giving her either the proper credit or the proper royalties. Something that prompted the introduction of a law that made vocal credits mandatory. Despite this, Wash is one of the most notable artists of recent decades, meaning interested individuals shouldn’t skip over her discography.
Here is our opinion of the ten best Martha Wash songs ever released:
10. “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”
Chances are good that people have heard Wash sing, even if they have never heard of her name. After all, she was the one who sang the opening of “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” a song that stands as one of the iconic releases of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Indeed, this song provoked the aforementioned legal changes when Wash sued because she couldn’t get proper credit and royalties through negotiation.
9. “Keep On Jumpin”
Wash contributed to some of the best dance music of the 1990s in one way or another. For another example, she was one of the two featured artists on Todd Terry’s version of “Keep On Jumpin” in 1996. The latter was a worthy successor to the 1977 original, as shown by how it was the other version to chart. Specifically, the version that Wash worked on was number one on the Dance Club Songs chart.
8. “Strike It Up”
“Strike It Up” is one of several hits Wash contributed to while working with Black Box. It was another dance chart-topper. On top of that, it had enough mainstream appeal that it was number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991.
7. “Leave a Light On”
Wash is by no means limited to dance music. For evidence, consider “Leave a Light On,” a phenomenal ballad released on her self-titled album in 1993. It is more or less what one would expect based on its name. That is to say, a song centered on maintaining hope under less-than-hopeful circumstances.
6. “It’s Raining Men . . . The Sequel”
Wash and Izora Armstead recorded the original “It’s Raining Men” back when they were together as the Weather Girls. Amusingly, they didn’t want to do the song at first because they thought it was too absurd. However, they got talked into recording the work by one of the songwriters, thus resulting in one of the most memorable releases of the early 1980s. This isn’t that version of the song. Instead, this is the one that Wash worked on with RuPaul for her greatest hits album. Even so, it was popular enough to reach numbers 22 and 21 on the U.S. and U.K. dance charts.
5. “Listen to the People”
Some optimistic songs can uplift. In contrast, others can land with the grace of a cast stone. Much depends on the execution. Wash released “Listen to the People” in 2000. That means her vocals were backed by a wealth of experience, thus making the work as rousing as it was meant to be.
4. “Catch the Light”
Simple words can make for evocative messages. “Catch the Light” is an excellent example. After all, one can’t do as the title says, but it’s so intuitive that it makes it easy for listeners to understand what the singer is communicating. As such, it’s no wonder that “Catch the Light” was another dance chart-topper for Wash, except it’s notable in that it was released in the late 1990s.
3. “Give It to You”
Wash’s self-titled album contained not one but two number-one hits on the U.S. dance charts. The second was “Give It to You,” a song with considerable crossover appeal. This can be seen in how it was number 48 on the R&B chart and 90 on the pop chart. Due to this, “Give It to You” stands as one of Wash’s best-remembered songs.
“Come” was on Wash’s greatest hits album. It was never a chart-topper. Still, it was popular enough to reach number four on the dance charts. Something that not just any song can do. It’s easy to understand the song’s appeal when one pays attention. The lyrics go to great lengths to describe a state of misery brought about by a mix of habit and exhaustion. Not everyone will feel this way, but most people will have experienced enough pain and suffering at some point to connect with the sentiments to some extent. The song proceeds to smash this edifice to pieces by encouraging the listeners to free themselves from this painful state of mind that prevents them from seeing what is possible in the world. That message makes “Come” a potential pick-me-up for those feeling down and defeated.
1. “Carry On”
“Carry On” was the other number-one hit from Wash’s self-titled album. Specifically, it was the first single, meaning it can claim some credit for the release’s overall momentum. “Carry On” never saw the same crossover appeal as its album-mate. It peaked at number 97 on the R&B chart while making no appearance on the pop chart whatsoever. Despite this, it’s easy to identify with the singer. She acknowledges that she experiences difficulties and obstacles. The critical point is that she has no intention of letting them stop her in any way but will instead continue despite them. “Carry On” is a song of strength and power, thus making its message one of inspiration.
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