To Be With You

To Be With You by krin.jpg

Date Aired
August 20, 2013
Running Time
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Todd plays "To Be With You" on the piano

Todd: Are you ready for some monster ballads?!

Commercial for Monster Ballads
Warrant: Heaven isn't too far away
Announcer: It's time for the ultimate experience!

Todd: Welcome to One Hit Wonderland, where we look at the careers of bands and artists known for only one song, and today we're gonna prove that every bad boy has a sensitive side.

Cinderella: Don't know what you got 'til it's gone

Todd (VO): Yes, this episode, we're going way back to look at one of the biggest power ballads from the era where the boys of glam rock ruled the world by living up to the dream of the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll! That's right, we're going back...

Todd: the 90s.

Video for "To Be With You"
Mr. Big: I'm the one who wants to be with you

Todd (VO): These guys were known by the laughably ambitious title of Mr. Big. They...broke late, let's say. But make no mistake, had they been introduced earlier on, they could very well have lived up to their name, but little did they know that by the time they broke out, they were already relics of a bygone era.

Mr. Big: Yeah, just to be the next to be with you

Todd (VO): Their acoustic ballad "To Be With You" was a humungous #1 smash at the beginning of 1992, but if you weren't around at the time, I can't say it would surprise me if you never heard of this song ever. Even when Mr. Big was at their Mr. Biggest, their brand of hairsprayed cock-rock was already...

Todd: ...tragically behind the times.

Eric Martin: Build up your confidence

Todd (VO): So how did a rock band riding a definitively 80s brand of coolness notch a giant hit in the era of Pearl Jam? Well, we're gonna find out.

Todd: Behold, hair metal's final hurrah, tonight on One Hit Wonderland.

Before the hit

Todd: The story of Mr. Big, as does the story of all hair metal, begins with Van Halen.

Clip of Van Halen - "Unchained"

Todd (VO): Bass player Billy Sheehan got the break of a lifetime when his small local band from Buffalo, [promo pic of...] Talas, got to open for Van Halen on their "Party 'til You Die Tour" in 1980. Talas never got big, but Sheehan must've made a big impression, because when David Lee Roth finally got fired in 1984, Sheehan was the first person to get invited to join Roth's backing band for his solo projects.

Todd: Sheehan quit Talas that day and never looked back.

Video for David Lee Roth - "Goin' Crazy!"

Todd (VO): Sheehan played with the David Lee Roth band alongside guitar legend Steve Vai for two albums before getting sick of the [brief clip of "Just Like Paradise"] slicked-up pop direction Roth was heading. Also, anyone who has to spend more than a week with David Lee Roth...

Todd: ...wants to murder him; I have to imagine that was a factor. Anyway, Sheehan started recruiting a new band.

Clip of Eric Martin Band - "Sucker for a Pretty Face"

Todd (VO): He found a singer in Eric Martin, who led the Eric Martin Band in the early 80s without much success. You can see him here looking all of fifteen years old. Sheehan also recruited [Clip of Racer X - "Scarified"] Paul Gilbert, an Yngwie Malmsteen-style neo-classical metal guitarist from the highly respected underground band Racer X. [Clip of drum solo by...] And they were rounded out by drummer Pat Torpey, who, at the time, was the latest drummer for the Knack.

Todd: So Mr. Big was like a supergroup of people that weren't famous. A less-than-supergroup.

Clip of Paul Gilbert guitar solo

Todd (VO): Now I want to make clear that this new band had serious chops. Hair metal bands, despite...

Todd: ...technically still being metal bands, couldn't always say that. I think, like, [picture of...] three-fourths of Poison was hired from a modeling agency or something. But Mr. Big knew their stuff.

Todd (VO): Sheehan was Guitar Magazine's "Bass Player of the Year" for, like, five years in a row; they called him "the Eddie Van Halen of bass." [Clip of "Addicted to That Rush"] But despite being a highly skilled band that could form, like, 900 different varieties of shred, they didn't just want to do guitar wankery, they wanted to actually write songs.

Mr. Big: Whoa!
Eric: Somethin' snaps inside my mind

Todd (VO): So their debut self-titled album from 1989 wasn't just guitar solos, it...

Todd: Honestly, maybe it should've been.

Clip of "Wind Me Up"

Todd (VO): Because this album did nothing. It did absolutely nothing. I can't honestly say that Mr. Big, despite their extreme metal superpowers, were particularly good songwriters. Plus, naming your band Mr. Big is just tempting fate anyway. (Mr. Big Hair, more like) Also, 1989 did not need more hair metal.

Todd: There were so many other new bands coming out that year that they had to compete against, including [pictures of...] Skid Row, Warrant, Enuff Z'Nuff, Faster Pussycat, Vain, Shotgun Messiah, Dangerous Toys, Danger Danger, Bang Tango...oh my God, are these all real bands? I had to have made one of those up. Bang Tango.

Live performance

Todd (VO): Undeterred, Mr. Big recorded a second album in 19...

Todd: Hold on a second, I'm missing bands here. [More pictures...] Pretty Boy Floyd, Junkyard, Shark Island, Cats in Boots. The 80s, everybody.

Video for "Green Tinted Sixties Mind"

Todd (VO): Anyway, they hoped for better from their second album in 1991, apparently unaware that the sand was shifting beneath their feet. Here is their first single from that album—a tribute to the 60s that sounds absolutely nothing like the 60s.

Mr. Big: You be lookin' groovy
In a sixties movie
Maybe tell the press you died
Little legend baby
Try your very best to hide

Todd (VO): I can speak from experience here—listen to this song twice, and it will be in your head forever. Right around the time they released that song, a little album called Nevermind was also climbing the charts.

Todd: Clearly, Mr. Big were never going to make it big.

Then they got big

Video for "To Be With You"
Eric: Hold on, little girl
Show me what he's done to you

Todd (VO): Okay, as much as I like to pretend that grunge changed everything overnight, things never really happen that neatly. Old-school hard rock was not dead. In 1992, Van Halen, Aerosmith, and Guns 'n Roses were still some of the biggest names in rock. [Clip of Extreme - "More Than Words"] And in 1991, one of the biggest hits was another acoustic guitar song from a previously unknown metal band.

Extreme: More than words

Todd (VO): So there was still...

Todd: for a Mr. Big, albeit for not much longer. But what about the song itself.

Mr. Big: I'm the one who wants to be with you
Deep inside I hope you feel it too
Eric: Feel it too

Todd (VO): Well, I'm on record as not particularly liking white guys with acoustic guitars, but I think this one has its charms.

Mr. Big: Just to be the next to be with you

Todd: Nice harmonies, guys.

Todd (VO): One of the best things about it is how simple it is. It''s not really a ballad. The band described it as more of a campfire song, which is true enough.

Todd: Besides, most white guys with acoustic guitar don't really have skills to pull off an awesome acoustic solo.

Paul Gilbert solo
Eric: When it's through, it's through

Todd (VO): Quite frankly, lead singer Eric Martin kind of strikes me as the weak link of the group. Sheehan may have been the Van Halen of bass, but Martin...he wasn't no David Lee Roth.

Eric: Build up your confidence
So you can be on top for once

Todd (VO): He doesn't particularly strike me as metal enough for his band. I mean, he looks like Tiffany. Look at him. But "To Be With You" is probably the best use of his talents. I believe he means it when he tries to prove how much love he feels, and trust me, [clip of commercial] if you actually listen to those 80s hair ballads, most of them blow. One thing I can definitely say for Mr. Big, they never remind me of Warrant or Winger or any of the other late-80s backwash metal.

Mr. Big: I'm the one who wants to...
Eric: I'm the one
Mr. Big: with you

Todd (VO): Apparently, this is an old song. Eric Martin wrote it when he was just a teenager, and...

Todd: can tell.

Eric: Your game of love was all rained out

Todd: I love it. "Your game of love was rained out." That is some primo 17-year-old metal metaphor right there.

Todd (VO): Like, the rest of the song is about how he can be the only one forever and ever, but...he just wants to be the next guy to be with her. Apparently she's just got this line of guys, and he just wants to jump a few spots ahead. In fact, he literally mentions the line of dudes in the lyrics.

Mr. Big: Waited on a line of
Eric: Waiting on a line

Todd (VO): Of course, it's good to point out if people aren't giving a shit about it, it shouldn't matter.

Eric: Wake up who cares about
Little boys that talk too much

Todd (VO): That's actually a really nice sentiment, I like that.

Todd: Key change!

Mr. Big: I'm the one who wants to be with you
Eric: I'm the one

Todd (VO): The implication of this song too is, not only will this singer not be this girl's first, he also won't be her last.

Todd: He seems to just want to be lucky enough to spend a little time with her at all.

Todd (VO):'s like he realizes how fleeting love can be before you get forgotten for the next one that comes along.

Todd: This is a metaphor for their career.

The failed follow-up

Todd: It should be really obvious to everybody why Mr. Big did not have a second hit.

Clip of Stone Temple Pilots - "Plush"
Scott Weiland: And I feel that...

Todd (VO): It was 1992. High-pitched, squealy vocals and meedly-meedly-mee guitar solos were not the in thing anymore. The fact that they had a hit at all is the amazing part, not that they didn't follow it up.

Todd: That said, they did have two other low-charting singles in the Top 40.

Video for "Just Take My Heart"
Mr. Big: Just take my heart when you go

Todd (VO): The first is another love song. It's okay. The other is a cover of Cat Stevens's "Wild World".

Video for "Wild World"
Mr. Big: Ooh, baby, baby, it's a wild world

Todd (VO): I cannot really judge this one objectively because I have never, ever been able to even remotely tolerate Cat Stevens. And after that, America just completely forgot about Mr. Bungle or whoever the hell they were.

Todd: They did kind of try to change with the times, I guess.

Clip of...

Todd (VO): This is "Take Cover". I would say it's probably their best song; it's from 1996.

Mr. Big: I wanna take cover, take cover
Eric: From you, wake me when it's over

Todd (VO): A little less 80s than their other stuff. I mean, if you...listen to it with different ears, you can say he's not that different from Soundgarden, right?

Todd: Yeah, who am I kidding?

Did they ever do anything else?

Todd: You feel bad for Mr. Big? Don't. They did fine. See, this is the thing—for pretty much their entire career, from their first album up to the present day, Mr. Big were absolutely huge in Japan.

Footage of Mr. Big in Japan

Todd (VO): Yeah, Spinal Tap style. I cannot emphasize this enough. Germans don't even love David Hasselhoff as much as Japan loves Mr. Big, or as they call them over there...

Todd: Big San. (Not really.)

Concert footage

Todd (VO): They toured in Japan, like, a billion times. They had, like, seven different [cover of a Japanese copy of Raw Like Sushi] live albums that they recorded in Japan. They have a song called "I Love You Japan".

Mr. Big: I love you Japan

Todd: I think I can say definitively that the popularity of Mr. Big is the weirdest thing about Japan.

Todd (VO): All the members of the band released a few solo albums too, which were mostly popular in Japan.

Todd (VO): Gilbert left the band in 1997, and they broke up for good in 2002. But they've done a few reunion tours in the past couple years, mostly in Japan. They released another album in 2011, and they're still touring today.

Todd: Also, Billy Sheehan, I understand, is like a legend among bass players, so there's that.

Did they deserve better?

Todd: I guess, yeah, yeah.

Mr. Big: I'm the one who wants to be with you
Eric: I'm the one

Todd (VO): Like I said, their biggest problem was that they were kind of weak songwriters. If they could've solved that, they could legitimately have had a strong, long-lasting career...

Todd: Oh, wait, the 90s. What am I talking about? There's no way they could've sustained a career in that decade.

Todd (VO): Not stateside, at least. That said, they survived and thrived through a decade that should've crushed them like bugs, so I don't really feel bad for them either. There's no doubt that they were a very talented ensemble, and if you're into guys who can, like, "really play, man," they'd be a good band to check out. Above all, unlike many of their peers, they did not strike me as poseurs or idiots. They never really got big, but if they called themselves Mr. Pretty Solid For a Hair Metal Band, I would agree with that.

Todd: Mr. Big—of all the hair bands, they were the last to be with you. And I think they made a good send-off for the genre. Rock on.

Gets up and leaves

Eric: be with you.

Closing tag song: Westlife - "To Be With You"

"To Be With You" is owned by Atlantic Records
This video is owned by me

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