’90s Flashback: Merril Bainbridge’s “Mouth”

Mike Wass | June 3, 2020 2:10 pm
'90s Flashback: 'Freak Like Me'
Adina Howard walked so today's sex-positive R&B queens could run.

In this franchise, we look back on our favorite bops — both hits and underrated gems — from the 1990s.

Remember when cute, little bops with flirty (but still thoroughly PG-13) lyrics charted? Yes, I’m talking about the ’90s — a time when a small army of usually-imported pop queens would land a big hit and then politely disappear. Australia was particularly generous in this respect, blessing us with Tina Arena (“Chains”), Frente (a cover of “Bizarre Love Triangle”), Gina G (“Ooh Aah… Just a Little Bit”) and the lovely Merril Bainbridge. She took “Mouth” all the way to number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1996 and then bid adieu.

Which is a shame because her debut LP, The Garden, was actually kind of stacked. But that’s a post for another today. “Mouth,” a chart-topper in Australia in 1995, eventually made its way to the US in 1996 and immediately found a home on top 40 radio. The song’s cutesy tone and minimal production was era-appropriate and the lyrics were just naughty enough to partially raise eyebrows. It turned out to be an irresistible combination. “Kiss me on my salty lips, I bet you feel a little crazy,” Merril cooed on the opening verse. “But for me, we’ll be famous on TV.”

She then dived straight into the iconic chorus. “Would it be my fault if I could turn you on? Would I be so bad if I could turn you on?” Merril purred over a chunky beat and strummed guitar. “When I kiss your mouth, I want to taste it and turn you upside down, don’t want to waste it.” The song was supported by two different videos (one for her home territory and another, slightly glossier offering for international markets) and a support slot on a Sheryl Crow tour. The pop star’s next single, “Under The Water,” stalled at number 91 and she gracefully went home.

Revisit one of the most charming songs of the ’90s below. I wonder what Merril is doing now.

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