Song of the Day Apr 30

April 30, 2024

This month I’m focusing on One Hit Wonders of the 90s.

Today our song is:  What's Up?

Wikipedia tells us this about the song:

The song had its origins well before 4 Non Blondes were formed. Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins recalled sitting in a room with Linda Perry, who worked as a waitress down the street, performing their original compositions to one another when the two were struggling musicians in San Francisco. The two played each other early versions of "Semi-Charmed Life" and "What's Up?", both of which would become massive hits for their respective bands. It would be decades later that Jenkins realized the songs performed in that private session would sell a combined 17 million records.

The title does not appear in the song's lyrics, but the phrase "what's going on?" is prominently included in the chorus. Perry told Rolling Stone that she heavily disliked the song's production. Perry revealed on Behind the Music that she hated David Tickle's reworked version (with different lyrics) intended to be used for their album. She had told this to Jimmy Iovine, co-owner of their record label. Iovine agreed, preferring Perry's demo version over Tickle's. The final version was recorded in one day after Iovine allowed 4 Non Blondes to re-record Perry's demo version. During an interview with Tape Op magazine, Perry recalled how the recording went:

The producer (David Tickle) had no sense of what the song was. I went to the label and said "This song sucks. This is not the song I wrote." They didn't support me. They said it sounded fine. I did not agree. I grabbed the band during a break and we went to The Record Plant in Sausalito. ... I started moving things around. The engineer there helped me a lot. I would tell him what I wanted, and if he didn't get it I would move the microphone around. Then I'd go, "Yes, that's it. That's the sound." I did that with everything. Then we got the tempo, and we got the recording of it, the base of it, done. I re-did my acoustics. I was in the middle of vocals when David Tickle showed up. I'd laid down three vocals. I was annoyed he showed up. We were already done with the frigging song. We comped the vocal and mixed it that night, and it made mastering the next day. That is the version that blew up all over the world. [...] I've told the story enough that people know that David Tickle did not produce that song. It was me.

Tickle's instrumental (over the original vocals) could be heard on Perry's episode of Behind the Music; Tickle's version was never released.

Hope that you enjoyed this month’s theme.  Here’s a recap of the songs:


  1. I loved this song and the singer who reminds me a bit of Carol Pope. Now I shall listen to your whole list..


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