Between the heavy synths, drum loops, big hair and oversize pastel clothes, nothing screams the 80’s like freestyle dance-pop group Nu Shooz. While they only made a brief appearance on the mainstream charts, barely missing one-hit wonder status by logging two Top-40 hits, the husband-and-wife team of Valerie Day and John Smith got feet moving on dance floors around the world, especially with their biggest hit, “I Can’t Wait.”
While Smith and Day have co-fronted the group from its early days (to the point that many people think of Nu Shooz as just the two of them), the group’s lineup has been as few as four and as many as 12 members. Forming in 1979 in Portland, OR, the band didn’t catch the wave of mainstream success until their third album Poolside in 1986. They had been signed to Atlantic Records due to the interest generated from one single off their independent EP Tha’s Right. The decision was made to remix the song and release it on Poolside. That song, “I Can’t Wait,” propelled Nu Shooz into the Billboard Top 5, caused Poolside to go Gold, and garnered the band a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist the following year. (The award went to Bruce Hornsby and the Range.)
Nu Shooz released one more album in the late 80s before disbanding, but Day and Smith reformed the group in 2007 under the name Nu Shooz Orchestra. They have released two more albums since, and continue to perform today.
The video for “I Can’t Wait” is below. As a bonus, I’ve also shared the band’s only other Top-40 hit, “Point Of No Return,” also from Poolside. Enjoy both!
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