I am a firm believer that some of the best music is teen pop from the late 90s or early 2000s and nothing (and I mean NOTHING) will ever change my mind about that. There was a small era between 1999 and around 2002 where pop music was thriving thanks to boy bands and girl groups especially. Other solo acts were stunning as well but something about the synchronization of groups was in high demand during these few years. Something about that era feels so calm, cool and collected, which is the opposite of the pop music I grew up on in the late 2000s and 2010s. Early 2000s pop was considerably very mature and well written, which is quite remarkable in itself considering there are overly sexualized pop songs now that sound like they were made for nine year old’s and are genuinely uncomfortable to listen to. Back then, pop music was an art, a performance, and entertainment like no other. With full choreography, intricate costumes and remarkable stage presence, this short era of music was one to remember. And one group that deserved a lot more than they received was Dream, a girl group that was more influential than they received credit for.
With only one album to represent themselves, Dream might not inherently seem like the best contender when discussing music from the 2000s. But when that one album is certified Platinum in the United States, reached the top ten on the Billboard Hot 200 albums chart, spent a whole five months on that chart, and spawned two singles that reached number 2 and number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, then this is something we need to talk about. Their debut, It Was All A Dream, was released a month into the year 2001 and was met with a mixed reaction. Critics seemed to be okay with it, not really thinking it was anything astounding but not bashing it completely. These critics obviously had completely forgotten what it’s like to be a young person and couldn’t see the magic that this record contained.
The project opens up with a short intro where all four girls introduce themselves, and although I do find this type of thing a bit pointless, I have to admit that the production is excellent and sets us up for a nice start. The first few songs we’re introduced to are classic pop, from the hit single “He Loves U Not” to “I Don’t Like Anyone” and “This Is Me” which are distinctly different but fit that pop mold. Out of these introduction tracks however, the most notable one has to be “In My Dreams” which lingers between pop and R&B production, with incredible vocals and layers, and smart lyrics about having a crush but being too shy to do anything about it. The next few songs are sectioned off by an interlude, which again is something I’m normally irritated by but this time, the interludes actually serve a purpose of organizing the track list. After “Reality”, a short spoken break, the songs that follow are very relaxed with easy going vocals and a distinct R&B feel with special embellishments such as a Spanish sounding guitar on “When I Get There” and a fun synthesizer intro on “What We Gonna Do About Us”. Even a song like “Pain” sounds perfect for the time but very classic even now, demonstrating how well this record has aged. And let’s not forget the final third of the album, which begins with a cover of New Edition’s “Mr. Telephone Man” and which is also one of the catchiest and well produced songs out of all of them. They managed to put a modern twist on a mid 80s song without it sounding corny, and if I didn’t know better I would have thought this was one of the group’s originals. The songs that follow to close out the record are just as entertaining though, with “Do You Wanna Dance” and “Angel Inside” being incredibly dance-y and funky, and “Miss You” and “How Long” providing more slow and heartfelt moments on here.
Certain things are difficult to see in their present moment and that’s especially true when it comes to music. Unfortunately for Dream, despite their debut being a very solid representation of music in the early 2000’s, their label ended up dropping them and they lost all the momentum they gained during their first few years. Their second album would be shelved and only released minimally, disappearing into the background as if it was simply a passing thought. But Dream was wise beyond their years, and It Was All A Dream was not only excellent in all departments, but it aged very, very nicely as well. As a young adult listening back to these songs, I can hardly believe that they were recorded by girls who were just starting out their teenage years, and how relatable they are to this day. Looking back on it twenty years later doesn’t even make me nostalgic; instead it feels just as fresh as it did back then, feeling more like a familiar friend than anything else. We may never know exactly what happened to this group behind the scenes but one thing I want everyone to know is how incredible they were.