Poison (Bell Biv DeVoe song)

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Poison BBD.jpg
Single by Bell Biv DeVoe
from the album Poison
ReleasedFebruary 24, 1990
RecordedOctober 1989
GenreNew jack swing,[1] funk,[2] hip hop[3]
LabelMCA Records
Songwriter(s)Elliot Straite
Producer(s)Elliot Straite
Bell Biv DeVoe singles chronology
"Do Me!"

"Poison" is the debut single by the New Edition spinoff group, Bell Biv DeVoe. This song—in the style of new jack swing, a late-1980s/early-1990s hybrid of R&B, hip hop and swing—was the group's most successful, and sings of the dangers of falling in love with a "wolf in sheep's clothing"; the song's swing sample is similar to "Taking U Out" by Rockwell Noel & The Poet. "Poison" was the first single taken from Bell Biv DeVoe's debut album of the same name.

Background and information[edit]

The song was written and produced by Elliot Straite, AKA Dr. Freeze. Straite had originally planned to feature the song on his own album, but plans changed when the members of Bell Biv DeVoe heard his demo version. "When the guys heard it, they went nuts. I didn’t think that record was going to be that big because it was a personal love letter to my ex-girlfriend at the time, it wasn’t a song at first. It was a letter; when I wrote it as a song, I let a lot of my friends hear it, and they said it was weird. After that, I put the music together. I was thinking I wasn’t going to be on the album because such heavyweights were already on it. I ended up having two songs on the album: “Poison” and “She’s Dope!”. [4]

Straite cites Kraftwerk as an influence on his production of Poison, as well as Latin music. In a 2015 interview with Chris Williams for the Red Bull Music Academy, Straite says, "When I made “Poison,” I was studying Kraftwerk; when I heard Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express album and their “Numbers” record, it made me want to change my whole style and approach to music. It gave me the musical inspiration to do “Poison.” I’m also mixed with Black and Puerto Rican. I had uncles that played with big Latin bands like Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria. You could hear the Latin elements in “Poison.” I wanted to bring the Latin element into that record by using timbales. When you hear them say “poison” at the end of the record? That came from Kraftwerk, it brought a futuristic element to the track as well. I didn’t want it to be a regular R&B record."

Chart performance[edit]

On the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, "Poison" rose from number fifty-two to number thirty-eight in the week of April 14, 1990, and eventually peaked at number three for four consecutive weeks, beginning on June 9, 1990. The single also peaked at number one on the Hot Black Singles chart for two weeks.[5] "Poison" became one of the most successful singles of 1990 (see 1990 in music), and was a staple on MTV and mainstream radio in the summer, spending ten weeks in the Top 10. The single peaked at number seven on the dance charts.[6] "Poison" was certified platinum by the RIAA on June 1, 1990 for sales of over one million copies.

It has been used in film (Mo' Money, Pootie Tang, Honey 2, Pineapple Express, Think Like A Man Too, Pitch Perfect 2), television (A Different World, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Scrubs, Glee, The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story, Hindsight), and video games (2004's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, on new jack swing radio station CSR 103.9, 2009's DJ Hero, 2010's Dance Central). It is also referenced in the Madvillain song, "Fancy Clown" and the Donald D. track, "She Gets Buck Wild". "Poison" was named #60 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s as well as #1 on VH1's 40 Greatest R&B Songs of the 90s.

The song was used in a New York Knicks intermission video, where the players awkwardly attempt to sing along with the song, it was also covered by Dev in her mixtape Dev Is Hot: The Mixtape. The song was also used a sample for Missy Elliott protégée Sharaya J's "Snatch Yo Wigs" (2013).[7]

Music video[edit]

The official music video for the song was directed by Lionel C. Martin.[8]The predominant colour is purple, it takes place at a club, an old basketball court and a schoolyard.

Sample credits[edit]

Chart positions[edit]


  1. ^ Josephs, Brian (July 20, 2012). "The 25 Best New Jack Swing Songs". Complex. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  2. ^ https://www.allmusic.com/album/poison-mw0000141841
  3. ^ https://www.allmusic.com/album/poison-mw0000141841
  4. ^ http://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/2015/06/key-tracks-bell-biv-devoe-poison
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 52.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 32.
  7. ^ "SHARAYA J - SMASH UP THE PLACE". YouTube.com. September 11, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  8. ^ ""Poison (Remix)" by Bell Biv Devoe | Music Video | VH1.com". VH1. Viacom International. October 15, 2007. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  9. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  10. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Bell Biv DeVoe – Poison" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  11. ^ "Charts.nz – Bell Biv DeVoe – Poison". Top 40 Singles.
  12. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  13. ^ "Top 40/Dance: June 30, 1990" (PDF). Billboard. Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  14. ^ "End of Year Charts 1990". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  15. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1990". Retrieved 2009-09-15.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]