Written by Nu Shooz founder John Smith, "I Can't Wait" is an uplifting love song:
You know I love you even when you don't try I know that our love will never die
She just can't wait to see him again, or at least hear his voice. Appropriate, as the group's lead vocalist Valerie Day was his girlfriend, and later, his wife.
The version of this song you've probably heard is the one with the stuttering vocal ("b-b-baby, I-I-I can't wait"). The original, which first appeared on the 1985 Nu Shooz EP Tha's Right, is more organic, focused on the horns. It was a Dutch producer, Pieder Slaghuis, who remixed the song, rendering it into a hit. He used a sampler to manipulate Valerie Day's vocals, creating a new hook. This technique of pitching up and chopping vocals to make a melody became a huge trend in the '10s, heard on tracks like "Turn Down For What" (DJ Snake) and "Run the World (Girls)" (Beyoncé).
The remix appears on the group's 1986 album, Poolside.
Thanks to John Smith and Valerie Day for supplying this timeline:
June '79 - John Smith founds Nu Shooz in Portland, Oregon.
May '83 - Percussionist Valerie Day becomes lead vocalist.
Summer '84 - Nu Shooz records "I Can't Wait" with Fritz Richmond (Jim Kweskin Jug Band) as engineer. Smith and band manager Rick Waritz co-produce.
April '85 - "I Can't Wait" breaks on Portland's #1 Top 40 station, KKRZ FM (Z–100), and quickly becomes a regional Top 10 hit.
Fall '85 - Warner Brothers Records extends a demo deal to Nu Shooz, but passes on the band soon afterward, stating, "We've already got Madonna."
Winter '85 - Dutch producer Pieder "Hithouse" Slaghuis discovers "I Can't Wait" on Hot Trax. His re-mix on Dutch label Injection Records becomes a hot-selling import in the United States and tops dance charts around the world.
January '86 - Atlantic Records signs Nu Shooz. Recording sessions begin at Atlantic Studios in New York and the Sunset Sound Factory in Los Angeles.
March '86 - The band's first album, Poolside, is completed after just six weeks. Fusion legend Jeff Lorber co-produces with Smith and Waritz.
Summer '86 - Nu Shooz tours 70 US cities in 73 days.
September '86 - "I Can't Wait" reaches #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
October '86 - Nu Shooz earns a Gold Album with Poolside.
November '86 - Shep Pettibone's (George Michael, Janet Jackson) re-mix of follow-up single "Point Of No Return" reaches #28 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Winter '86 - The band is nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy Award (Bruce Hornsby and the Range win).
Jim Blashfield created the video using animation techniques he had applied in short films. "I Can't Wait" places Valerie Day is a surreal, whimsical universe, a hallmark of Blashfield's work. His other videos include Michael Jackson's "Leave Me Alone," Tears For Fears' "Sowing the Seeds of Love," and Talking Heads' "And She Was."
The song has been sampled and interpolated many times. A few examples:
Vanessa Williams - "Happiness" (1997) Brian McKnight - "Jam Knock" (1997) Paula DeAnda's - "Easy" (2007) Girl Talk - "No Pause" (2008) Mann's - "Buzzin'" (2010)
A 2002 cover by the British group Ladies First hit #19 in the UK.
The song went to #1 on the Billboard Dance chart and had a huge impact across Europe. Nu Shooz followed it up with "Point Of No Return," which also topped the Dance tally and reached #28 on the Hot 100, keeping them out of one-hit wonder territory.
This was around before Stevie Nicks released her "I Can't Wait," but her song beat it to the charts about about two months. For a few weeks in May 1986, both songs were on the Hot 100.
The next Nu Shooz single, "Point Of No Return," shared the title of a song by Exposé that was released in 1985 but didn't chart until 1987, a year after the Nu Shooz version placed.
John from Nashville, TnSampled by Vanessa Williams on her 1997 r&b hit "Happiness" produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Michaela from Usa, NyI thought this was a black woman sining this song.
Joshua from La Crosse, WiThis song's U.S. chart run overlapped that of a Stevie Nicks solo hit also titled "I Can't Wait"; this was the first time in U.S. chart history that two songs with exactly identical titles were hits at the same time.