Video may have killed the radio star, but TikTok is reviving radio songs.
St. Paul's own Mint Condition has suddenly gone viral with its 30-year-old hit "Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)." Hundreds of thousands of TikTok clips, using the R&B group's heartbreaking ballad in as many ways, have been posted in the past few weeks.
"It's crazy," said Mint Condition lead singer Stokley Williams. "The song has taken on a life of its own."
A life that has generated 650,000 clips and more than 800 million views, according to Rolling Stone.
Many of the clips poke fun at the forlorn, including a woman who is distraught when she learns her date is colorblind.
"Breakin' My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)" peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's R&B chart and No. 6 on the pop list in 1992.
"It's a testament to a great song," said Williams of Mint's suddenly viral hit.
At 54, he's the father of two kids still in school. Young people "use technology and they're discovering things that were before. That's cool.
"It's just our turn right now."
He receives texts and social media messages about all kinds of clips, but he's only watched 100 or so. "I don't have that much time in the day," said Williams, who is still promoting his 2021 solo album "Sankofa" while Mint is on hiatus.
"We did our thing. The legacy is great. People are enjoying it. It brings a smile on your face."
Most of the TikTok clips use a version of the song with Williams' lead vocals sped up that someone posted last year.
Williams doesn't know who. "It was this random person. I thought it was funny. It reminded me of some of the early Kanye stuff — he'd speed up his production and then sample it and make it into a song. Sped-up vocals sounds like chipmunks."
All this TikTok activity will translate to royalties via ASCAP, said Mint Condition manager Jeff Taube.
Taube is hoping for a bigger payday a la Fleetwood Mac, which cashed in with a TV commercial for Ocean Spray in 2020 after a skateboarder posted a TikTok video of himself lip-synching to their song "Dreams" while cruising down the road, sipping from a big bottle of Cran-Raspberry.
"If you watch any television nowadays, you see a lot of commercials that have '90s R&B and hip-hop artists," Taube said. "It's all cyclical. The music all comes back."
In recent years, Mint Condition has seen an increase in its royalty checks, which Taube attributes in part to its music being heard on Sirius XM's Heart & Soul channel.
Despite the renewed interest in Mint Condition, Williams said there are no plans for any reunion performances. The band last released an album in 2015 — "Healing Season," its ninth full length. Williams has pursued a solo career while the other members are working on other musical projects.
Taube said this summer the band will reissue its 1991 debut album, "Meant to Be Mint," with the addition of the four-song demo — including "Breakin' My Heart" — that got them a record deal with Grammy-winning producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis' Perspective Records.
The group's last performance was at a pre-Super Bowl Twin Cities concert in 2018 curated by Jam and Lewis.
"The music business is a journey with many chapters," Taube said. "It's been really gratifying for the fellows to see a new generation appreciating something they did 30 years ago — and in such an organic fashion.
"It wasn't something where there was money put into the campaign, which is often the case. It happened on its own."