The Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda Files: Lisa Lisa Reaches For A Star

Jan 11th, 2007 // 8 Comments

jackie.jpgTime for another installment of the Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda Files, where we raid our cassingle collection in search of a lost gem.

Artist: Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
Album: “Little Jackie Wants To Be A Star,” 1989
What happened: In the mid-’80s, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam couldn’t stop pumping out the hits: “All Cried Out,” “Head To Toe,” and “Lost In Emotion” all went top 10 from 1986-87, and the group’s first two albums, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam With Full Force and Spanish Fly, were certified platinum. Straight To The Sky, the follow-up album to Spanish Fly, came out in 1989, and “Jackie,” its lead single, peaked at No. 29 on the Billboard charts.
Why it should have been a hit “Jackie” is a shift from the beat-heavy tracks that Lisa Lisa took to the top–with its breezy beat and gently strummed acoustic guitars, it brings to mind Beyonce’s monster hit “Irreplaceable.” Sure, its teenage-runaway lyrics make the mood a little bit heavier, but it wasn’t like that theme wasn’t common among pop songs of the time. (You remember Poison’s “Fallen Angel,” don’t you?) “Jackie” should have been coming out of car windows for the entire summer, warnings about five-dollar highs and all.

Lisa Lisa – Little Jackie Wants To Be A Star [MP3, link expired]
Lisa Lisa [MySpace]


  1. noamjamski

    Pauly Pauly!

  2. Maura Johnston


  3. Brian Raftery

    One of EW‘s holiday parties in the late ’90s featured Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam as the musical guest. All I remember was that the “Cult Jam” part of the act looked like 22-year-olds from Broadway Dance Studios. That party also featured a Ricky Martin impersonator, which made even less sense.

  4. chaircrusher

    I effing love Lisa Lisa. You should try and dig out an mp3 of the track ‘Spanish Fly’ which combines sublime salsa-influenced broken beat disco with a laugh out loud rap break.


  5. Chris Molanphy

    What’s sorta cool about Lisa Lisa is that she released only three albums in the ’80s, each a couple of years apart, but each one had a subtly different sound. The first one was all post-breakbeat electro stuff (cf. “I Wonder If I Take You Home,” still her magnum opus IMHO), the second one reinvented her successfully as a mall-Motown act (cf. “Lost in Emotion”), and the third one was this kind of semi-cerebral soul record. Unsurprisingly, semi-cerebral wasn’t as chart-friendly as breakbeats or mall-Motown. I did like “Little Jackie,” though.

    Oh yeah…and I was a teenager then, and I remember wanting to watch her videos for a glimpse of her other readily apparent assets. (Sorry.)

  6. the rich girls are weeping

    dennisobell, thanks for lauding “I Wonder if I Take You Home” as Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s magnum opus. That and “Can You Feel the Beat” still work, and make Spanish Fly pale in comparison, even though that album was more popular. I still don’t know about Jackie’s aspirations…

  7. scientifical_madness

    finally. a usable version of “little jackie.” i keep putting my cassette single of this song up to my ear, but i can never quite hear it…

  8. massappealrep

    For all of you Lisa Lisa fans out there, I have some information that may really excite you!! This Spring, Lisa Lisa is releasing an album through Mass Appeal Entertainment!! For your listening pleasure, new songs will be available soon on Lisa Lisa’s myspace page! Please visit her official site:!!

    Have a great day!

    Mass Appeal Entertainment

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