Wilson Phillips were formed in LA in 1989 by Carnie and Wendy Wilson and Chynna Phillips. The fact that Carnie and Wendy are the daughters of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and Chynna Phillips is the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas may have given them a leg up in the business, but it was their sweet vocals and irresistibly catchy melodies that established them as one of the biggest girl groups of the early 1990s. Their debut album was a major international hit, selling over 10 million copies worldwide and spawning five massive hit singles. They broke up shortly after the release of their second album, but continue to reunite for the occasional special appearance to this day. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Wilson Phillips songs of all time.
10. Good Vibrations
Kicking off our list of the ten best Wilson Phillips songs of all time is Good Vibrations. It takes a brave act to cover what’s been described by Barney Hoskyns in “Waiting for the Sun: A Rock ‘n’ Roll History of Los Angeles” as the “ultimate psychedelic pop record” from Los Angeles, but if any group was going to cover a ’60s Beach Boys classic, one boasting two of Brian Wilson’s daughters was probably the one to do it. Released in 2012, their version hit number 25 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Chart.
9. Go You’re On Way
Go You’re On Way was a massive hit for Fleetwood Mac in 1977, earning the band their first top-ten hit in the US and helping Rumors become one of the best-selling albums of all time. It’s since been ranked as one of the ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ by Rolling Stone and is widely considered the greatest Fleetwood Mac song ever recorded. In 2004, Wilson Phillips took their version of the classic to number 14 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Chart.
8. You Won’t See Me Cry
Described by Entertainment Weekly as a “tough/sweet blend of sadness and underlying strength,” You Won’t See Me Cry is a thing of fragile beauty, highlighting the trio’s effortless harmonies to spectacular effect. Released as the lead single from their second album Shadows and Light, it became the group’s last major international hit, climbing to number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 18 on the UK Singles Chart, and peaking at number 1 in Canada and Finland.
Daniel was written by Bernie Taupin and Elton John and first recorded by John in 1973 for his album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player. It became one of his most successful songs, reaching number 2 on the pop charts and winning the 1973 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically. Several acts have covered it since, including Wilson Phillips, who took their version to number 7 on the US and Canadian Adult Contemporary charts in 1991.
Wilson Phillips’ self-titled debut album was a major international hit, spending 125 weeks on the US Billboard 200 (including an entire year in the top 10), picking up a Grammy Award from Album of the Year, and selling over 10 million copies worldwide. It also spawned a series of hugely successful singles, three of which topped the US Billboard Hot 100. Impulsive, the album’s third single, didn’t manage to climb to number one, but it still reached a very respectable number 4. It’s since been ranked as one of Billboard’s 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time. Listen out for a sensational turn from the Eagles’ Joe Walsh on slide guitar.
5. Release Me
By the time they released Release Me in June 1990, Wilson Phillips’ were riding high in the charts with their hit debut album. Their first single from the album, the irresistibly catchy Hold On, had already taken them to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and Release Me proved no less successful. Released as the album’s second single, it held onto the top spot on the pop charts for two weeks. It also topped both the US Hot Adult Contemporary chart and the Canada Top Singles chart.
4. Give It Up
After the phenomenal success of their debut album, Wilson Phillips’ second studio album, Shadows and Light, had a lot to live up to. Although it didn’t quite match up to its predecessor’s success internationally, it was still a major hit in the US, reaching number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. One of its highlights is Give It Up, a delectable piece of pop confection with some irresistibly sweet harmonies from the group. Released as the album’s second single in July 1992, it reached number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band’s final entry on the top 40.
3. The Dream Is Still Alive
After hitting the top five with the first five singles released from their debut album, Wilson Phillips fell out of the top ten for the first time with the album’s fifth and final single, The Dream Is Still Alive. Despite only managing to climb to number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, it fared better on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it peaked at number 4. Chart positions aside, it’s a lovely thing, with the group’s wonderful harmonies hitting the same sweet notes as ever.
2. You’re in Love
You’re in Love, Wilson Phillips’ fourth single from their debut album, took the charts by storm on its release in January 1991, sailing to number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 to become the group’s third and last US chart topper. Its close harmonies and catchy melodies also managed to win the attention of the critics, resulting in a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. In the event, they lost out to Losing My Religion by R.E.M., but the song is still remembered as one of the highlights of the group’s early period.
1. Hold On
In at number one is Wilson Phillips’ first-ever single, Hold On. Described by Music and Media as “melodic, well crafted and extremely catchy” and “everything you would expect from a band made up of daughters of rock stars,” the song soared to number one on its release in February 1990, bagging the group their first chart-topping single and a Grammy nomination for Song of the Year to boot.