Chynna Phillips, responsible for one of the most enduring pop earwigs of the last century, was home in California trying to talk through a seriously crackling cell phone. She moved around to find better reception.
"Hold on . . ." she said. "Hold on."
Amazing. She wasn't trying to be funny. She didn't even realize she said it. But therein lies the magic of Wilson Phillips — always earnest, always friendly, sometimes sweetly comical. Who can forget the epic 1990 video for Hold On, Phillips and bandmates Wendy and Carnie Wilson marching down a boardwalk in black power suits? Someday somebody's gonna make you want to turn around and say goodbye.
The song has risen to sacred pop culture status, sprouting up in comedies like 2004's Harold and Kumar go to White Castle and 2009's Spring Breakdown. In 2011, Phillips competed on Dancing With the Stars and danced a rumba to the song.
"If you can't have a sense of humor about yourself, then you should just get out of the business," said Phillips, 44, who performs with Wilson Phillips on Friday at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater. "Part of when you know you've made it is when people are sort of mocking you or making fun of you. You've got to roll with the punches, and you have to be lighthearted about it."
That attitude has fostered a Wilson Phillips career renaissance. Hold On, so popular it unseated Madonna's Vogue from the charts, had a big role in the 2011 smash comedy Bridesmaids.
"We knew nothing about the story line or who was starring in it," said Phillips. "All we knew was that it was a comedy and they wanted to use Hold On and they were hoping and praying we would agree to be in the movie. We agreed to do it sort of blindly. We showed up on set and saw Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig and we started to put the pieces together. . . . We were up until 4 a.m. just singing the song over and over and over again. We just loved it."
Phillips didn't tell any friends she was going to be in the film.
"My phone exploded that opening weekend," she said. "There were like 50 different messages."
The movie, written by women about relationships between women, resonated with the band. They broke up in 1993 when Phillips launched a solo career. She was miserable during those years, she said.
"I needed to have Carnie and Wendy by my side. I'm not going to lie to you. There was a bit of a chasm in the friendship when I decided to take a break and go my own way. It's always tough. We're all dependent on each other. When one person decides to bow out, it affects everyone. We've been able to recover from so many of those obstacles, to be able to communicate. The three of us have gotten so much better at communicating as we've matured."
They're back together now. Dedicated, their album due out in April, is covers of songs by their famous parents, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas. They tackle California Dreaming, God Only Knows, Wouldn't It Be Nice, Dedicated to the One I Love.
"You can never replicate what they did," she said. "All we could do is put our signature on it and pray that we wouldn't butcher it. We went in very humble and said, 'How can we put our spin on this and still make it the classic that it is and not taint it?' It's such a delicate process to cover classics."
Classics, for example, like Hold On? Yeah, that too.
"We are, for a lack of a better term, an oldies band," she said.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8857.