iTunes Diaries, entry #17: “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” by Jane Child

I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes.  I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale.  Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not.  In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey.  I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site.  With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment. 

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At a certain point in my “career” as a Top 40-radio aficionado, I realized that not all artists were created equal. During those formative years, I listened intently to the sounds of lots of very well-known people, from Madonna to Bruce Springsteen to Michael Jackson. And over and over again I heard the same songs, came to memorize their rhythms. So whenever something new popped onto the chart, it was hard to not take notice. Sometimes that notice turned into obsession. And sometime that obsession was met with zero fulfillment. And sometime that non-fulfillment turned into hatred. And sometimes that hatred eventually broke into love.

That’s how it went with Jane Child’s “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love.”

When this song hit the charts in early 1990, it was everything a teenage-me wanted in a pop song: super catchy, strong vocals, plenty of funky synthesizers, and very danceable. When “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” (from Child’s debut album Jane Child) reached the top 10, it became unstoppable. And very, very unavoidable. But I was alright with that because I liked the song. By extension, I liked Jane Child too. (Upon catching of glimpse of her, uh, non-standard fashion sense on MTV, that sealed the deal.) So like every other song to which I became attached, I followed “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” as it rose to fame. I memorized it, sung along with it whenever it came on the radio, and waited to hear the next big thing from Jane Child.

Problem is, the next big thing never happened. At least not as far as Top 40 radio was concerned. And that kind of sucked.

Up to that point, I had only just begun to “follow” musicians – learn everything there was to know about the ones that I really liked and wait with baited breath for the next singles to drop. Janet Jackson and Billy Joel were a couple favorites, but they had well-established reputations and careers. Jane Child was like listening to undiscovered country, if undiscovered country had a sound (I’m sure it did). Granted, her synthesized sound wasn’t exactly new at the time, but she was new, and that was enough for me to start following her along an untread path.

Sadly, that path was pretty short and didn’t find much paving. The grand success of “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” led, naturally, to over-saturation. Jane Child was “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” regardless of anything else that she happened to do. A later (and to my present ears, better) single was released called “Welcome to the Real World.” I probably would have like the song more then if I hadn’t begun to hate the radio thanks to Taylor Dane. (Seriously, “Tell it to My Heart,” “Love Will Lead You Back.,” etc etc. Just UGH.) “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” became the first one-hit-wonder I experienced in person, as it was happening. A fun as “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” was, the more I heard it, the less fulfilling it became. And soon, my interest in the song and Child simply faded. And she faded from the radio as well.

However, that song. Oh, that song turned up in the years following, mainly in doctor’s waiting rooms, random elevators, and the grocery store. Yep, “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” reached the syndicated masses as muzak. So even if you’ve never heard the song before, you probably have. I heard it so frequently in one grocery store that I practically sang along to it as I picked up my weekly allotment of oranges and pretzels.

When the time came round for me to create a 90s playlist for my beloved iPod, adding “Don’t Wanna Fall in Love” was a no-brainer. I mean, it had willingly and then reluctantly defined a huge part of that decade for me. It just has that sound and those lyrics. I listen to the song now and I like it enough to bop along to the music. Makes me sad though that Child never became the big-time star (a la Madonna) that I thought she was going to be. But that path isn’t for everyone. And being a one hit wonder comes with perks of its own.

Jane Child
Jane Child – Jane Child (1989)

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