Debbie Deb on Covers: "Janet Jackson Did 'Lookout Weekend,' She Botched It"

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Photo by Suzanne Collier
If you're old enough to recall the mid '80s, you can probably recognize the sounds of Debbie Deb's "When I Hear Music" and "Lookout Weekend" in an instant. The freestyle hits were the teen anthems of their day, ubiquitous soundtracks at roller rinks and mall parking lots. Younger listeners may know them too. Years later, they're still played on "party stations" like Miami's Power 96.

But most likely you know nothing about the singer behind the tracks, Deborah Wesoff Lopez (now Deborah Lopez Kowalski). After recording her two hits in 1984 and 1985, respectively, her label, Music Specialist/Jam Packed, hired other "Debbie Debs" to perform her songs and record new (albeit far less successful) ones, effectively writing her out of her own history.

See also:
-Debbie Deb on Being Replaced With a Body Double: "They Didn't Want a Heavy Girl"

Nearly two decades after she helped forment the partly Miami-originated freestyle sound alongside legendary 305 producer "Pretty" Tony Butler, "the real Debbie Deb" is on the road, reclaiming her legacy one show at a time. We here at Crossfade spoke to her ahead of her apperance at Magic City Casino this Saturday.

Crossfade: Is this the real Debbie Deb? It's not one of those impostors, right?
Debbie Deb: This is the real one who wrote "When I Hear Music" and "Lookout Weekend" back in '84 and '85. And then...they dissed me.

Dissed you, huh?
Back then, MTV was just coming out and nobody knew how I looked, and they didn't want a heavy girl. They wanted a Madonna type. A sexy, dancer type. So they did a Milli Vanilli kind of thing. There was no picture of me [on the singles], so nobody knew the difference. But this is the real Debbie Deb. My name is Deborah.

When you say "they," who is that?
When I say "they," I am referring to [producer] Pretty Tony, his record label back then. It was called Jam Packed, or Music Specialist. I really wasn't too sure. I was never told any information back then.

What have you been doing all these years since?
I did the two songs, and never had any idea that they were going to blow up and become club anthems. I was just having fun in the studio. I liked to play around and sing. I was never looking be a singer. It just happened. When the songs became popular, I had no stage presence, I didn't know how to fight stage fright. I had no training. I didn't know how to perform for people. And they saw that, obviously. The voice was good for them but the rest of the package wasn't. So they had a couple other girls going around doing clubs in the '80s as Debbie Deb. That scarred me pretty rough for a few years. I became a hairdresser, had my son back then, got married and did the mom thing. And I just didn't want anything to do with the music business. At the same time, there were other Debbie Debs out there performing my songs. That's why I say, "The Real Debbie Deb."


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Magic City Casino

450 NW 37th Ave., Miami, FL

Category: General


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9 comments
boiofsteel704
boiofsteel704

I like Janet's cover, the arrangements still had the 80's freestyle flair plus a Jimmy Jam / Terry Lewis sound that was refreshing. Let's face it, the song back in the 80's was not a hit because of the vocals. It was a cult smash because of the beat.


amanda_m_dunn1
amanda_m_dunn1

1st, Jesse Sewer is a moron for putting Janet's name in title of this stupid article. Secondly, this Debbie Deb trick is an obnoxious, rude, semi one-hit wonder, neverwas from 30 yrs. ago. Who the h*ll is she to debase a legend like Janet Jackson??? If she didn't  like Janet's cover, all she had to do was say she didn't care for it. She didn't have to slander Janet to make herself look important. And, Janet couldn't have possibly "botched" or "butchered" a song that already sucked a$$ 29, 30 yrs ago. That song was already one of the worst songs of the 80's. This Debbie chick should be grateful Janet threw her nobody a$$ a bone & made a cover of her sh*tty song!!!

willbradford04
willbradford04

Janet did that remake 7 years ago and it wasn't even released commercially. It was a B-side that was just for fun. I didn't even know who Debbie Deb was until I heard Janet's remake of the song. 

Debbie you should be grateful to Janet instead of taking cheap shots for some publicity to promote your stupid tour that no one will even care to see. it's obvious your hungry for money since you were only a 2 hit wonder anyway! And who uses the word BOTCH anyway?? This interview is so contrived.

Jesse Sewer, shame on you for putting Janet Jackson's name in the headline of your article just to get more clicks/Captain Morgan ad sales ;) lmao

Gaga
Gaga

No JANET MISS JACKSON IF UR NASTY, and GET THE POINT, LET'S DANCE, Janet did a nice cover. This should have been released to the club !!!!!

janetserbia
janetserbia

No one in Europe would get a chance to hear "Lookout Weekend" if Janet didn't "botch" it. I still didn't hear the original version, nor I am intending to. 

Josh Colletta
Josh Colletta

Yes, Jackson DID botch "Lookout Weekend." Horrendously. I've never forgiven her for that.

AshfordSimpson
AshfordSimpson

@amanda_m_dunn1 First of all, if you know anything about journalism, you'll know that rarely does the writer come up with the headline. It's funny you chose the words "moron", "obnoxious", and "rude". Talking about yourself, are you? And if you didn't like this article, use the same advice you're offering Debbie Deb—all you had to say was you "didn't care for it."

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