The ‘80s: Vanity’s ‘Skin On Skin’

Vanity burst onto the music scene as the fearless and sexy camisole-clad lead singer of the Prince-assembled group Vanity 6, with the classic tune “Nasty Girl.” Even today the track, released in 1982, stands the test of time as a funky, synth/drum syncopated, finger snapping, old-school party jam. After Vanity’s departure from the group, she wasted no time signing a record vanityskinonskindeal with Motown Records and in 1984 released her debut solo album, Wild Animal.

Her sophomore album, Skin On Skin, released in 1986, contained a mix of pop and rock with a slightly more polished elegance than its predecessor, yet with the same, funky edge and sometimes risqué lyrical content  that we’d come to expect (and dare we say even look forward to) from Vanity. The album kicked off with a mellow, mid-tempo lead single, “Under The Influence,” co-written by singer/songwriter Robbie Nevil, who also had a Top 10 hit that same year with the song “C’est La Vie.” “Under The Influence” peaked at #56 on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit the Top 10 on the dance chart. The song’s film noir-styled video got a lot of love from R&B video music programs like BET’s Video Soul and, thanks to love from R&B radio, the single also made it to #9 on the Hot Black Singles chart.

The album runs the full gamut both musically and lyrically. The tune “Romantic Voyage” is a haunting and innocent ballad of fantasy turned to true love. “Ouch” is a funky, up-tempo musical homage to the Minneapolis sound, and “Manhunt,” a tune whose title pretty much sums it up, includes the same playful sexuality only Vanity could deliver with lyrics like “I won’t be satisfied/until he’s roped and tied/and I’ve had something I can sink my teeth into.” 

Skin On Skin peaked at #66 on the Top Pop Albums chart and hit the Top 20 on the R&B Albums chart.


—Montrose Cunningham

Montrose Cunningham is a Dallas, Texas-based, independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado, with a Master of Science degree in Marketing. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughters, sometimes at the same time. Purchase his release Inertia at, follow him on Twitter @MontroseC and check out his blog, Daddy Rock Star.

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