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Oh Sheila by Ready for the World

Album: Ready for the WorldReleased: 1985Charted:
  • What, you've never heard of this song? If so, heed well of its lesson: Don't make your songs sound too much like Prince, or people might forget about you and think it's just one of Prince's minor hits. And not only that, but Michael Jackson was also on top of his game during the mid-'80s. Between those two, it's no wonder this group got swamped out of the spotlight so soon.

    Ready for the World hails from Flint, Michigan - setting of Roger & Me - and the Minneapolis sound was all the rage.

    Named after a lyric from a song from their debut album called "Ceramic Girl," They had a modest underground hit in Detroit and Flint with their first single "Tonight," which was helped by airplay on the Detroit radio station WJLB, where the song was championed by a DJ called The Electrifying Mojo. This got them signed to MCA Records, who released "Tonight," followed by "Deep Inside Your Love," which both went Top 10 on the R&B charts. It was the third single, "Oh Sheila," that was the breakout hit, going to #1 on the Dance, R&B, and Hot 100 charts.
  • Rumors to the contrary, this song has nothing to do with Prince protégé Sheila E. When lead singer Melvin Riley was working on the song in his basement, he came up with the melody and tried the names of various girls to make it fit - "Lisa" almost made the cut but "Sheila" sounded best. The name was simply made up, which Riley admitted instead of making up stories like Tommy Tutone did with "Jenny (867-5309)."
  • Ready for the World's success was never quite duplicated again. Their debut album went platinum, their follow-up album Long Time Coming went gold, and from that they clawed their way back into the Billboard charts two last times, with "Digital Display" (#21) and "Love You Down" (#9). They went through two more albums and then split up by 1991. Intriguingly, they continued to at least chart in the US R&B right up until their last hit "Can He Do It (Like This, Can He Do It Like That)" in 1991, so it's not like they were tanking. They've since reunited from time to time.
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