You’d be forgiven for not remembering LFO. They released only two albums and had only two real hits, most notably the 1999 smash “Summer Girls.” But if today’s search statistics are anything to go by, lots of people haven’t forgotten about LFO and Rich Cronin.
The trio was formed in Boston in the mid 1990s. Their 1999 debut album LFO (which stood for "Lyte Funky Ones") showed little commercial promise at first, with the single “Can’t Have You” (a remake of disco era Yvonne Elliman tune penned by the Bee Gees) reaching only #54 on the charts. But their second single, “Summer Girls” would race all up the charts, peaking at #3 on the Top 30 in August of 1999. By the end of the year, the song had gone platinum and climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot Singles Sales for 1999. Last summer, the magazine named it as the 16th best summer song of all time.
Neither Rich Cronin nor anyone else in the band could have forseen the song’s success. It was first recorded strictly for demo purposes (as its off-handed, often repetitive lyrics suggest) and was leaked to radio stations before the band thought to include it on their album.
The song’s cultural references include everything from Kevin Bacon and Michael J. Fox to Fun Dip, Cherry Pez and (most famously) Abercrombie and Fitch, most strung together in borderline nonsensical couplets like:
You're the best girl that I ever did see,
The great Larry Bird Jersey 33
When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet
Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets
The naysayers – and there were plenty – felt the song represented pretty much everything that was wrong with pop music at the end of the millennium, especially as pertaining to boy bands like Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync who had a huge chart presence. When Eminem made fun of “Summer Girls” on his album The Marshall Mathers LP, the band might have sensed a sea change was underway. Eminem’s record sold nearly 2 million copies in just its first week, becoming the fastest selling solo album ever released. Clean-cut, wholesome boy bands were on the way out.
LFO’s second album, 2000’s “Life is Good” was a commercial disappointment and would prove to be their last.
LFO members pursued various side projects after the band split. A reunion was announced in July 2009 but abandoned only months later, many speculated because of Cronin’s declining health. He’d been fighting leukemia since 2005.
When news of Cronin’s death broke last night, it became clear that LFO and their big hit had not been forgotten. Rich Cronin became one of the most-searched terms on Google and occupied two places on Twitter’s Top Tweets.
Here’s the song Rich Cronin will now always be remembered by: