I have so many happy memories of Hi-Five during the summer of 1990. Without a doubt, every time I think of the song "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)," I immediately think of myself singing rather badly and loudly with a group of my friends on our way to the subway station as we trooped up a hill to a station five blocks away. This time was a magical one, not just because I was in the beginning of my teens and the world was unfolding more secrets upon me with each passing day, but because R&B music was king...or queen depending upon the gender of a group's members. To reminisce for a spell, consider this: not only was Hi-Five's "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)" a number one single on the R&B chart but on the pop chart, meaning these kids were not only commercially successful but brought financial success to their record company as well.
Back when Hi-Five's self-titled, Teddy Riley-produced album debuted in 1990, the quintet of Waco, Texas' finest enjoyed chart-topping success. Besides the number one R&B and pop single "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)," the slow jam "I Can't Wait Another Minute" and the uptempo "I Just Can't Handle It" were also R&B and pop top ten singles. Meteoric success was certainly to be expected since Jive Records launched a campaign that had these boys seemingly arriving from nowhere, much to the delight of my girlfriends and my guy friends who could truly appreciate great harmonies and seemingly innocent melodies.
Hi-Five may have grown up a bit just as myself and my friends did as the early nineties turned into the middle nineties, but just as we left home and matured Hi-Five did the same. Such songs as "She's Playing Hard To Get" and the R. Kelly-penned "Quality Time" from their sophomore effort Keep It Goin' On' may not have been as commercially successful as those from their debut album, but in hindsight and judging from the radio plays, I couldn't tell the difference. Add to these previously mentioned singles the song "Unconditional Love" from the Menace II Society soundtrack and Hi-Five continued to entertain just as much as they did when they first exploded onto the scene.
Though the group officially disbanded in 1994, lead singer Tony Thompson launched a solo career and achieved minimal success. It was much to all of their many fans' dismay when it was discovered that he passed away in 2007 in what may or may not have been a fatal drug overdose. Despite the terrible demise of the innocence that this group brought, is there anything as lovely as hearing:
All summer long
We've been together
And I never felt so good
'Cause when I'm with you
You're such a good time (yes it is)
And when you get next to me
You make my heart beat fast
You throw me back when you smile
And when we're alone
I know we're in love
I didn't think so. That being said, allow your mind to drift back 20 years and remember with fondness or newfound appreciation one of the best songs to ever describe adolescent love and the playfulness that results in exchange for kisses.