Today, I will be showcasing my hands down, favorite pop group from when I was in high school... The Party!The Party are also the group that I mention and no one knows what I'm talking about. Sigh! Every so often, someone will know them and that makes us friends for life! The Party were, from the top of the above picture, going clockwise, Albert Fields, Deedee Magno, Damon Pampolina, Chase Hampton and Tiffini Hale. All five had starred on the Disney Channel's The New Mickey Mouse Club in 1989 before being spun off as a pop group. This was the height of New Kids on the Block mania, and The Party emulated their format with five singers and dancers, but gave the concept a twist by including two female members. (Rumor has it, two other female cast members, Rocqui Herring and Damon's real-life girlfriend Brandy Brown were also considered.)
Their eponymous debut album was the first release by Hollywood Records, a Disney-owned company that today is the home of Miley Cyrus, The Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato... as well as less mainstream artists like the Plain White Ts, Breaking Benjamin, Atreyu and Marie Digby. The Party's first single, "Summer Vacation" was a poppy rap song that only made it to #71 on the Pop chart, but managed to hit #21 on the Dance Chart. Disney heavily promoted the song and it even received plays on MTV.
The group's second single, "I Found Love" produced by Jellybean Benetez, only made it to #79 on the Pop Chart.
Their third single was the R&B flavored "That's Why":
They performed "I Found Love" and "That's Why (The Power Remix)" on Nia Peeples' Party Machine, for the two people who might remember that!
Finally, a fourth single, "Sugar Is Sweet" was released, but failed to chart:
In 1991, they released In The Meantime, In Between Time, a ten-track disc featuring cover songs and remixes (including the That's Why remix above). While not a real "album" it actually ended up being their greatest success, spawning their only Top 40 hit, "In My Dreams" a dance-y cover of the Dokken hair metal song.
This video was released before En Vogue's "My Lovin' (Never Gonna Get It)" video, but there are a lot of similarities, with the colors and the lights in the background. Of course, En Vogue's song was a classic and "In My Dreams" sort of faded into the ether. It did make it to #34 on the Pop Chart and #35 on the Dance Chart. The deejay at one of my favorite bars when I was in college used to play it for me every time I went there, though so YAY!
The rest of the album was poorly produced. The second single, "Private Affair" was heavily remixed before its release.
A third single, a cover of Elvis Costello's "What's So Funny About Peace, Love & Understanding?" was released, with The Party shortening the name to just "Peace, Love & Understanding."
The group enjoyed touring as the opening act for Hi Five, Vanilla Ice and Taylor Dayne.
In 1992, they released their second studio album, Free, which showcased a more mature sound. Super producer Teddy Riley wrote three songs on the album, including the title track, which was the first single.
Dr. Dre... yes THAT Dr. Dre, pre-The Chronic, wrote and produced the song "Let's Get Right Down To It" which was not released as a single. The second and last single from the album, "All About Love" like "Private Affair" was heavily remixed in its single form. The smooth R&B track would have been a perfect match for the radio at the time, but it failed to take off and Hollywood stopped pushing the album.
Despite the great production on the Free album, the group's connection to Disney and their poppy image ultimately kept older fans from embracing them. Also, pop and dance music started to fade by this point and hip hop, R&B and post-grunge rock had become the driving forces in pop music.
Damon was the first to leave the group. Damon was clearly the heart throb of the group, having been the most popular boy on the Mickey Mouse Club. His presence drew the majority of their fan base, but Damon was also the least musically inclined. He rapped on "Summer Vacation" their first single and also had a solo semi-spoken rap called "Ton of Bricks" on their debut, but as time went on, his contributions were less and less.
The majority of solos went to the other members of the group, especially Deedee and Albert, definitely the two strongest singers. They continued performing as a quartet, notably at Disney World, before calling it quits.
After their breakup, Hollywood Records released The Party's Over, Thanks For Coming, like In The Meantime..., a collection of leftover tracks including two more covers, "Hot Fun In The Summertime" and "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" as well as several tracks that were actually solo songs done by the remaining individual members without the others' involvement.
Chase and Tiffani actually returned to host The Mickey Mouse Club in its final two seasons, featuring newcomers Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. Chase later formed the band Buzzfly, formed his own label and has since released a solo album. Tiffani, many years ago, was rumored to be hosting a revived Mickey Mouse Club, but that never materialized and she has remained out of the public eye. Albert released an album under the name Jeune (half of his middle name Jeunepierre) and continues making music. Damon lived in New York and pursued acting along with his long-time girlfriend Brandy Brown. He recently formed a website hoping to discover new talent and has formed an entertainment agency with his father. His relationship with Brandy lasted 10 years, but he is now married to a woman named Jennifer and has a son named Roman. He and Albert reunited as a hip hop group N'Decent Proposal. Deedee has been the most high profile, starring on Broadway in Miss Saigon in the role of Kim. Deedee was the longest running actress to play that part. She recently starred in the touring production of Wicked as Nessarose opposite her husband Cliffton Hall who played lead Fiyero. The two have a son, Kaeden.
Eeeeee! Here I am with Deedee after seeing her in Wicked! With my bedazzled Party shirt! She was so super sweet and signed all the crap I brought along! Also, she's TINY! Swoon!