Do you remember the 90s? If you said yes, you could be thinking of a dozen different things. You could have thought of the Clinton-era surplus, the creative fashion choices, or the wave of classic sitcoms and cartoons. But even if you didn’t live during the 90s, you remember the music.
The 90s were filled with feel-good hits, like “Wonderwall” by Oasis, rap jams, like “Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer, and countless one-hit wonders, such as “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba and “Mambo No. 5” by Lou Bega. However, in the midst of all of these songs that still find their way onto our Spotify playlists, there is one that doesn’t receive the playtime it deserves: “Crush” by Jennifer Paige.
Released in June of 1998, “Crush” took the world by storm. Paige combines 90s sensuality with the dismissive attitude of that generation, resulting in a perfect love song that rejected the usual tropes. With lyrics like, “It’s just a crush,” and, “It’s just some little thing,” the song spurned the promise of permanence in love songs in favor of temporary, hedonistic pleasures, which was a fresh wave in the stagnant ocean of sappy love songs.
By September, the song had reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for three weeks. It remained in the Top 10 for a total of 17 weeks, and in the Top 100 for 25 weeks. Internationally, the song was an even greater success. “Crush” topped the charts in 16 separate countries. The record even went on to be certified gold in France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and certified double-platinum in Australia.
Paige would go on to release her sophomore solo album “Positively Somewhere” in 2001. The album received modest acclaim, due to a mix of bad timing and a lack of promotion from her record label. The album included the song “Stranded” and reached the Top 10 in Japan in 2002.
It would be almost seven years until fans would hear her next solo album. In the spring of 2008, Paige released “Best Kept Secret,” which contained the hit “Beautiful Lie,” recorded with Nick Carter. Unfortunately, 2008 would bring about a string of personal difficulties for Paige, overshadowing the newly-released album.
January of 2008 saw Paige moving from Los Angeles to Nashville. It also saw the tragic death of both of her parents. Her father died from a heart attack merely two weeks after her mother passed. The sudden loss of her two biggest supporters “took the wind out of [her] sails.” To add to the trying times, she was diagnosed with melanoma. She spent the year working towards an eventual recovery.
The trials of that year took away her desire to sing. For the following three years, Paige turned toward behind-the-scenes work. She delved into writing music for commercials. She also created a podcast that shared her own experiences as an artist.
Eventually, the heartache subsided, and her love for singing returned. Paige used her newfound motivation to create a Christmas album, a project she had always wanted to undertake. She released “Holiday,” her first independent album, in 2012. The album was a compilation of reimagined Christmas carols and a few new original songs. All of the instrumental and background vocals were done by a group of friends that she had gathered for the project. The creation of this album reaffirmed her love for music.
In 2016, Paige partnered with producer Jeremy Bose to write “Starflower,” an album named after her daughter, Stella Rose, who was born in 2014. The project was funded by her fans on Kickstarter. Paige explains that her experience with crowdfunding was “vastly different” than her experience with record labels. In the world of record labels, there’s a distance between the artist and the fans, whereas that distance doesn’t exist on crowdfunding platforms, where the fans directly dictate your success.
20 years after the worldwide success of “Crush,” Paige is continuing her career as a solo artist, but she isn’t rejecting her history with behind-the-scenes work. She currently works as a music consultant for RL Recordings, helping upcoming indie musicians perfect their sound. With her dedication to music and her excellent repertoire, it doesn’t take a scientist to conclude that Jennifer Paige’s work deserves much more playtime.