In 1999, Blessid Union Of Souls was a group in decline. Their 1995 debut album, Home, went Gold and spun off a smash in “I Believe,” a dramatic ballad that centered on interracial love (and did so with fairly pointed language for a pop song released in that time period.) Two years later, a self-titled sophomore album failed to perform well, peaking at #127 on the Billboard album chart despite scoring a minor hit with “Light In Your Eyes.” Despite lead singer Eliot Sloan’s weird vocal resemblance to P.M. Dawn’s Prince Be, it looked like the sun was quickly setting on Blessid Union Of Souls’ career.
BUT WAIT! The duo wasn’t over yet. Thanks to a pop culture icon just passing the peak of his popularity, Blessid Union of Souls were able to successfully sidestep irrelevance with a vengeance, thanks to the hit “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me.)”
Assuming you haven’t heard this song before, be informed that the Leonardo referenced in the song title isn’t the Ninja Turtle, but the “Titanic”-starring actor. Around this time, Leonardo DiCaprio was the celluloid version of Thriller-era Michael Jackson. Ladies loved him, girls adored him (shout out to Rob Base) and he carried a great deal of critical cred, as well. How could a song about Leo not fail?
Don’t worry, it didn’t. “Hey Leonardo” peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100-a bit surprising considering how ubiquitous it was at the time-and reached #8 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart. I have distinct memories of hearing it on the radio and practically breaking my fingers looking for the tuner on the Walkman. Seeing as how it appeared to lag a little on the sales end, I’m assuming that Blessid Union’s label spent much time greasing the palms of program directors in order to get the record played-and often.
Musically, it’s alternative rock by the numbers (sidebar, it’s amazing how many absolutely shitty rock songs came out during the late ’90s,) and lyrically? I mean, dude, it’s great that your lady likes you for you, and not because you’re funny like Jim Carrey or you can sing like Pavarotti. But I hope she dumped your ass after she heard this song. I’m not sure what the difference is, qualitatively, between this song and one of those credit solution jingles that comes on TV 14 times a day. Plus, it’s fucking shameless. Glomming onto the glow of a superstar in order to gain your 16th minute of fame? Not cool. And for the record, I don’t have much use for DiCaprio, and I’ve never seen “Titanic.” True story.
Thankfully, Blessid Union of Souls’ career floundered post-“Leonardo” even though they tried a desperate Hail Mary a few years later with “Rev It Up (NASCAR Rocks.)” No one bought it, and although the band is still together, it doesn’t really appear as though anyone’s bought anything since. Maybe time to write “Hey Joseph Gordon-Levitt?”