#TBT: Samantha Mumba

This name will always reign supreme as one of the early 00’s most talented and underrated/undervalued pop/R&B acts of our time. Stating her album was overlooked is an understatement, and knowing that she would never release a sophomore, or any subsequent albums, would have been enough to just allow me to give up on pop/R&B music alone. My Samantha Mumba memory is quite emotionally stirring because I remember being a hormonal closeted gay teen playing Roller Coaster Tycoon on my Compaq PC while listening to the album on repeat, specifically the album track Isn’t It Strange (thank you Samantha). Now… Let’s look back.

The US/UK Hits:

  • Gotta Tell You: The debut single, the signature single that peaked at No. 2 in the UK and No. 4 in the US. Slinky, innovative, interesting. The song was a hit and the perfect intro to the talent and the eventual debut album.
  • Baby Come Over (This Is Our Night): The Grammy nominated second single (in the US/4th in the UK) was Samantha’s 4th top 5 hit in the UK. Though not charting well in the US (Peak No. 49), it did receive a nomination.

The UK Hits:

  • Body II Body & Always Come Back to Your Love: Both were extremely serviceable pop/R&B songs. Body II Body being quite adventurous using a David Bowie sample. Always Come Back to Your Love was a Stargate production that peaked at No. 3 in the UK.
  • Lately: Released as her last single from the album, the Divine original was described as a “paint-by-the-numbers, dreary record any X Factor winner must record when they win” by the pop music blog, PopRescue. It peaked at No. 6, her first outside the top 5.

The US Attempt:

  • Don’t Need You To (Tell Me I’m Pretty): A song that was added to the re-issue of the album, which turns 17 today, was written by Diane Warren and produced by Ron Fair. Back in the early 00’s you were nobody if Diane didn’t write a song for you. This single was also written for Legally Blonde and included in the brilliantly directed soundtrack. The song went nowhere. I think it killed all momentum.

The Sophomore Attempt:

  • I’m Right Here: Samantha was ready to come back into our lives after her successful Gotta Tell You run, which landed her over 4 million in record sales. The song was different. Decidedly more R&B inspired, co-written by Kandi Burruss and produced by Bloodshy & Avant. It was to be the first single off her sophomore album, Woman. The song peaked at No. 5 in the UK, but sales were poor, and then Polydor (her home label) cleaned house. Tragedy struck when her manager, Louis Walsh, stated in an interview that he had originally wanted Samantha to record Sound of the Underground, a song that later went to become a launching single for Girls Aloud. Bad for Sam, good for us, bad for us all at the same time.

Where is she now: Samantha is now married to a cop and living in LA. She’s released some ballads since her debut. Released a hits collection (The Collection) that featured I’m Right Here (no rap version) and Sensuality, the B-Side to the CD-Single for I’m Right Here. She has a daughter, and who knows what’s next.

Sam, it’s been 17 long years… what do you say? Will there ever be a new song? A new EP? Or will you at least just re-record every song on your debut album, or just do a tour where you sing the album through and through? #WeMissSam

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