Bobby Brown Revealed ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ Was a Message to Judgy Fans

The album Don’t Be Cruel includes some of Bobby Brown’s most famous music. Brown made the title of his song “Don’t Be Cruel” the name of the album as a message to fans who were judging him. He revealed why the song was everything he needed to release at the time. Listeners from the United States and the United Kingdom had similar reactions to the track.

Bobby Brown wearing a cross necklace
Bobby Brown | Rita Barros/Getty Images

Why Bobby Brown felt the song ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ was everything he needed at the time

Brown first became famous as a member of the group New Edition but he parted ways with New Edition in 1985. “I wanted to bring what New Edition was — but solo,” Brown told The Undefeated. “New Edition is a performing group, we love to perform … We practice hard and perform hard … I wanted to be able to bring that energy to people without me even speaking. I wanted to walk out on the stage and the crowd goes nuts.”

Brown was impressed with “Don’t Be Cruel” when he first heard it. “I remember just running the lyrics, and going in there and singing it, and then listening to it,” he said.” Once I listened, it was just like, ‘OK. It got rap, it got R&B. That’s what I need.'” 

New Edition members wearing suits
New Edition | Allen Berezovsky/WireImage

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What Bobby Brown was trying to communicate to fans with the title of the album

Brown chose to make Don’t Be Cruel the title of the song’s parent album to make a statement to his fans. “With my first album they was judging me because I was kicked out of New Edition … the fans were judging me,” he said. 

“So with Don’t Be Cruel it was basically telling them, ‘Don’t be cruel. Just listen to the music. Watch the videos. And trust me, I’m not going to flake out and be an artist that you won’t love. Because I’m all about love,” he added.

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The way the world reacted to ‘Don’t Be Cruel’

“Don’t Be Cruel” was embraced on U.S. radio. The song peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the chart for 26 weeks. Its parent album became even more popular. Don’t Be Cruel topped the Billboard 200 for six weeks and spent 97 total weeks on the chart. None of Brown’s other albums performed as well on the Billboard 200.

“Don’t Be Cruel” became popular in the U.K. as well. The Official Charts Company reports the track reached No. 13 there, lasting on the charts for 16 weeks. It was Brown’s first solo song to chart in the U.K. Meanwhile, Don’t Be Cruel reached No. 3 and remained on the chart for 41 weeks. Don’t Be Cruel came from a time when Brown felt fans were judging him but they seemed to embrace his new music.

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