Category: egregious '80s music

hateful songs: “eyes without a face” (billy idol)

hateful songs: “eyes without a face” (billy idol)

or, as i like to sing it, thighs without a space.

ah, the freshman 10. you never believe it will happen to you until you head off to college, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and you are faced with cafeteria food. the university of miami cafeteria, at least the one near my freshman dorm, was no pleasure palace. sure, it offered some things i never had before (and, thanks to it’s awful treatment of such foods, i will never try again — platanos fritos, i am looking at YOU), but the food was inedible for the most part.

i spent quite a bit of time eating godfather’s pizza (which wasn’t a lot better), the strange chicken patty sandwiches in the breezeway, and the happy hour free eats at a bar across south dixie highway. (nevermind the fact i was not drinking age. i could buy a soda and get a whole meal with it.) not exactly a healthy regimen; and when i came home for winter break, i realized i was not on a good path.

upon my return, i signed up for an aerobics class that happened a couple of nights each week at the UM gym. (i think the football players had their own gym, as i never saw anyone terribly bulky there.) and anyone who remembers the early 1980s remembers a lot of women sporting fluffy hair and stripey duds much like the lady herself, ms. jane fonda, queen of pain.

my roommate was heavily into jane, so we spent a lot of time attempting this stuff.

anyway, back to the UM gym. my roommate and i spent hours and hours in aerobics class. and, in short, i didn’t really enjoy this particular class, but i didn’t feel like i had any choice but to attend. (the food choices weren’t changing, so something had to give.) i didn’t like the especially joyful woman who taught the class. i didn’t particularly want to feel the burn. what i wanted was to make it through the damn class so i could go out and risk my life crossing grand avenue to visit steve’s ice cream in coconut grove feel a little virtuous, for 5 minutes at least.

so every time i attended, guess which song had the leg lifts i dreaded?

yep. mr. billy idol, reminding me that no one could see the sun through my thunder thighs.

in short: i hate pert ladies who yell Woo! as they bounce and stretch it out.

i hate leg lifts.

and i hate billy idol’s eyes without a space.

any questions?

guilty pleasure monday: ruby (kaiser chiefs)

guilty pleasure monday: ruby (kaiser chiefs)

…and you thought i was completely stuck in the last century.

despite the fact that the DC metro has no discernible music radio stations of interest (unless you consider classic rock seasoned with a generous helping of hair band selections fascinating), i do try to listen to the stuff those crazy youngsters like.  sure, i have to comb teh interwebs and read rolling stone to hear about new artists; and i’m quite sure that what is really happening in music is not necessarily something i will know about from more corporate sources (it never was when i was young), so i will always be a few years behind (though yes, virginia, i have heard of the silversun pickups and cage the elephant, thankyouverymuch.)

yes, while i will always bemoan the fact that one of my dream jobs would be to be the female version of cameron crowe, i know that i’m probably past the age where i could start getting sent to venues to review music.  (people might think i’m someone’s mom, or a narc. or maybe both. who knows?) so for now, i content myself sharing earworms as i find them…

besides, at the moment, i am fighting the battle known as mmmmmmmmmmy ggggggggeneration. what this means, essentially, is that BC — raised on rock, punk, and other musical classics — is getting swayed by her peers. she is singing along with lady gaga. she can’t stop youtubing ke$sha, or kasha (varnishkes), or whatever that delightfully classy specimen of the female variety is called.

and while it was ok for ME to be singing along with some rather risque numbers when i was her age (i didn’t know what rocks off was about, anyway), i am a little tweaked about girlfriend singing along with these freaky-deaky ladies who are shameless in their sexuality and, in kooshie’s case, alcoholic entertainment.  yes, BC and i have spoken about the songs, and i am not one to ban music around here. but i do want her to think about what these people are portraying in their songs. i also want her to think about the quality of these songs versus, say, stuff that has withstood the test of time.  (does anyone think these songs sound a lot, musically, like dance music from the 80s and early 90s? in a word, zzzzzzzz…)

but i also know that my guilty pleasures from the 1970s and 80s (as well as the songs i loathed from the 70s and 80s) were just that — music from my generation.  and while i’m sure people decades older than i were vomiting listening to, say, supertramp, i hear them and am suddenly 13 years old and smiling.  so i know i need to just hold my tongue at times, and see where the girl’s ears lead her. and, if i can help in the modern rock end of things, i certainly will load my mp3 player up with stuff to steer her to all sorts of other music from her generation.

which leads me to the kaiser chiefs. i loaded ruby onto my mp3 player, where it randomly hits airplay now and again. the hook is undeniable; and my kids adore this song. in fact, BC adores it so much that when she was challenged to take a prayer in hebrew school (adon olam, for you red sea pedestrians out there) and sing it to any song she wanted, girlfriend chose this one. (of course, it ended up rather challenging for her, so she switched… to another classic.)

yes, i love music. i love a lot of types of music. and underlying it all, of course, is the fact that i want my children to love music, too. for me, there’s something expressed with or without words that simply helps me be. and sure, i’m not thrilled that The Girl is grooving to certain songs that make me cringe for so many reasons.  but i’ll simply let her have her music while showing her that there is other music out there that is worthy of her ears. she can choose what she likes, in the end.

i can’t wait to see what ends up on her personal mixtape one day.

egregious 80’s music: we built this city (starship)

egregious 80’s music: we built this city (starship)

my nominee for worst song of the 1980s. quite possibly one of the worst ever.

by the time the classic rock group jefferson airplane / jefferson starship had morphed into starship, times indeed had changed. for one thing, no one in the band was legally permitted to use the terms jefferson or airplane when they performed. that left them as simply starship: a band consisting of a bunch of guys around founding member grace slick (she with the haircut i’ve worn on and off for the past 30 years.)

anyway, everything about we built this city screamed of the bad, commercialistic state of the music industry in the mid-1980s. sure, the music industry is always commercial — but this song is like an emblem of that crass, homogenized, pre-digested pap that was served up to people… and sadly, they loved it. (at least, they did at the time.) the song speaks of los angeles, but the band allowed different radio stations to dub traffic reports over part of the song as it played to make it seem much more local. to ensure airplay, an MTV executive had a voice-over part in the song.

you might be interested in knowing that bernie taupin, sir elton john’s longtime musical collaborator, is partially responsible for this one. (bad, bernie!)

in 2004, blender magazine decided this to be the worst song of the 1980s, and i quite agree. one of the magazine’s contributors locked himself up and listened only to this song for a 24-hour marathon.  one wonders whether the powers that be ought to have considered this prior to interrogations at gitmo.

as an aside, i was always troubled by a particular part of the song:

Marconi plays the Mamba,
Listen to the radio
Don’t you remember?
We built this city
We built this city on rock and roll!

thanks to the magic that is google, i now know the correct lyrics. but for years, i thought they were singing about a high school friend of mine. i couldn’t figure out for the life of me why they would have the nerve to sing marc cote (pronounced ko-tee) plays the mamba. listen to the radio. as an artist, he would never, EVER, allow himself to be attached to such a collosal trainwreck of a song. i am much relieved to know this to be true.

knee deep in the hoopla? i think they were knee deep in a completely different substance.

egregious 80’s music: do they know it’s christmas (band-aid)

egregious 80’s music: do they know it’s christmas (band-aid)

’cause there won’t be snow in africa this christmas…

i suspect there isn’t snow in much of africa, this christmas or any other. but in 1984, there also wasn’t a lot of food for people in ethiopia, which led to sir bob geldof and midge ure (of ultravox) to pen a song to raise money for their relief. a great idea, a generous idea, and yet a naive idea in hindsight, as no one knows whether the money ever for to the places it needed to go. not to mention the song just basically sucked.

no one said it better than morrissey:

The main reason I’m dangerous is because I’m not afraid to say how I feel. I’m not afraid to say that I think Band Aid was diabolical. Or to say that I think Bob Geldof is a nauseating character. Many people find that very unsettling, but I’ll say it as loud as anyone wants me to.

In the first instance the record itself was absolutely tuneless. One can have great concern for the people of Ethiopia, but it’s another thing to inflict daily torture on the people of England. It was an awful record considering the mass of talent involved. And it wasn’t done shyly — it was the most self-righteous platform ever in the history of popular music.

ah, st. moz…

anyway, it’s hard to talk about this one without including the video. you watch the video, and even someone heavily entrenched in ’80’s music ends up scratching her head: hmm… who the hell is THAT? there are plenty of gimmies: righteous bono and his mullet; sting with his sir lancelot hair; phil collins with a tiny vestige of his natural hair remaining; george michael with more makeup than a tranny; and of course, boy george, who looks like, er, well, boy george. after that, it begins to get a little murky. i know bananarama are the three girls in the front with very unwashed hairt… hmmm. who the hell ARE these people?

anyway, it’s christmas season now, so get ready to hear this one repeatedly. somehow, i think it will never go away. pity that.

egregious '80's music: total eclipse of the heart (bonnie tyler)

egregious '80's music: total eclipse of the heart (bonnie tyler)

turn around, bright eyes

am i the only one who watches this video and gets creeped out by the voice that keeps repeating turn around? i keep waiting for the serial killer to pop out of somewhere. it’s bad enough tyler seems to be dreaming about the boys in her school. but the serial killer? eek. fortunately, there are people who took the video on and made it a bit less scary for people like me.

a must-see:

we have jim steinman, man behind meatloaf, to blame for this song. somehow, it wasn’t enough to spread the schmaltz just with the ‘loaf. or maybe the ‘loaf rejected this one… i don’t see anyone calling him bright eyes.

fun trivia factoid for you brooooce fans out there — mighty max weinberg plays drums on this one. yeah, i feel proud now, too.

egregious '80's music: shake your love (debbie gibson)

egregious '80's music: shake your love (debbie gibson)

oh, is THAT what the thing i’m shaking is called.

it’s difficult to pick just one debbie gibson song for the purposes of this post. lost in your eyes makes me weep but for reasons not intended by the artist. foolish beat reminds me of all the melodramatic crap i used to write and then hide away when i was about 15 years old. and electric youth makes me want to go out and touch a live wire, just to make it all stop.

but shake your love is probably the worst.  the chorus does not make musical sense to me. it sounds like she didn’t know how to end the chorus, and so she cuts it off. admittedly, the chorus is so overwhelming, i cannot actually remember the rest of the song. i think i probably blocked it out after awhile. how does it go again? wait. don’t tell me.

seriously, i will give deborah (that’s how she rolls these days) extreme props, though. she wrote and played and sang and danced. even if i didn’t like the package, she was the full package. britney and all the other musical wannabes that the disney factory creates don’t actually possess the talent that gibson has in her pinky.

(and secret guilty pleasure admittance: i like only in my dreams. some hooks are even too good for me to resist.)

egregious '80's songs: i want your sex (george michael)

egregious '80's songs: i want your sex (george michael)

wham! bam! no thank you, ma’am!

after splitting from wham! partner andrew ridgeley (a duo which created the much covered, wretch-worthy careless whisper), george michael put out a solo album in 1987, faith, which simply became HUGE. a big part of that hugeness was caused by the controversial song i want your sex. despite the fact that michael kept towing the proverbial party line about the song being about monogamy (a particularly important and interesting message during the seemingly and sadly uncontrollable early days of AIDs), there was a lot of discomfort with the song’s content. MTV would only play if after hours. american top 40‘s casey casem couldn’t even bear to utter the song’s title. apparently, there’s something very naughty about a man writing explore monogamy on a woman’s back in lipstick. who knew?

anyway, i had a few issues with the song myself, but none of them involved prudery.  for starters, there’s something so crude and dull about a chorus where michaels just sort of drops the words i want your sex… i mean, who the hell talks like that? i would expect that sort of stilted conversational style from those wild and crazy czech brothers, but that sort of line in real life would probably just earn you a smack for being so forward.

secondly, by 1987, did ANYONE think that george michael was heterosexual? SERIOUSLY? well, i certainly didn’t; and i have a serious problem with people who masquerade as something they are not. i recognize that coming out has got to be one of the hardest things to do for a GLBT person; much of society has yet to just get over it and live and let live. we still don’t recognize gay marriage in most of these united states, so i get the whole stigma — everyone from your family to your nation has an issue with your sex life.  i don’t even think i can understand this sort of pressure, having never experienced it; but i can only imagine it as being horrifically, horrifically challenging for some. lord knows it leads to suicide for so many. even so — it is one thing to live closeted. it is another thing to try and portray this wildly hetero (and wildly false) image. and that’s what george is trying to do with this song.

in short, that infuriates me.

years later, i have read the stories of his drug use; of his arrests as he cruises around for anonymous sex. i know he’s out now, but i feel sorry for him.  i just don’t think he’ll ever be comfortable just being who he is.

and that saddens me.

egregious '80's music: never gonna give you up (rick astley)

egregious '80's music: never gonna give you up (rick astley)

no, you are not being rickrolled. though you might prefer that to be the case here.

throaty singer rick astley burst onto the music scene in 1987 with his monster hit never gonna give you up. his forgettable, sound-alike followups, like together forever, still litter easy listening stations and grocery store PA systems to this very day. he was produced by a UK machine known as stock aitken waterman — and when he left them, his career took a nosedive. sad about his career, but at least my ears were spared…for a time.

i still have nightmares of the time i spent in a windowless office on the second floor thanks in part to mr. astley. it was 1991, and i was working in education policy. (that was not the nightmarish part. i liked the work.) i shared said tiny office with a Ph.D candidate who was grumpy and cranky all the time. did i mention it was a small, windowless, and sometimes airless-feeling office? there was a library in the building, and at times, when i did not need to be near a phone, i would escape to the library for a sanity break.

anyway, the Ph.D candidate had a clock radio in the office. i like music in the background, so i didn’t mind in principle. however, as he was most certainly a southern boy, he liked playing the local country station, which i DID mind. seeing as he wasn’t going to play the late great 99.1 WHFS (which existed at the time), we made our peace and listened to easy listening. if i had a dime for every time i heard never gonna give you up, i would certainly have enough to have bought myself a very fine pair of bose noise cancelling headphones, i can tell you that.

(that year, i had to work on yom kippur. i fasted in that awful little room. and to further the punishment, i let the Ph.D candidate play the country station. oh, how i suffered for my sins.)

of course, now that the rickrolling phenomenon came about, astley is alive and well and showing up all over the place on the internet. like here.

(i suspect only my old pal leifer will get that one.)

egregious '80's music: rock me amadeus (falco)

egregious '80's music: rock me amadeus (falco)

i’m a danish, i’m a danish, rock me, i’m a danish!

okay, my friends katrin or m2k the super brain will have to translate that one for us. in the meantime, for us stupid americans who need things in english, behold the most popular of the late, great falco’s contributions to our musical heritage: rock me amadeus. not entirely sure what the hell the song is about other than the illustrious wolfgang amadeus mozart. yeah, he was great. yeah, he was talented. yeah, he was hot in the ’80s thanks to some feature film time.

but this song? how on earth did it become a bigger hit than der kommissar? (or, for you xenophobic amurikins, here’s the version we all know.) dk actually has a cool hook, even if no one knows even what the hell the english version is all about.

i did find out that falco, or Johann (Hans) Hölze, called himself falco after an east german ski jumper. he left the world tragically due to a horrible car crash. nothing good about that.

but this song? with all the offerings in 1986, this was not something to be remembered. and yet, here i am, remembering it.

i think i’ll just stick with the real thing and get rocked by it. to sleep, perhaps, but still.

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