Friday, August 29, 2014

(It's Not Nostalgia) It's the 80s Express--Pt. 5

84.  "All Night Long (All Night)"--Lionel Richie
Released 1983
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

Name a more vile use of parentheses in music history.  Oh shit you can't.

Beyond that, Lionel sounds like he hosts a chill shindig.  More of a clambake than a block party, nothing stronger than Coronas to alter yer beast.  No one will be getting laid tonight.  Might be some making out, but the second even one ass gets pinched--party over!

Keep It?  NO

"Rio"--Duran Duran
Released 1982
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  14

Duran Duran played the game with grandiosity and aplomb.  Nick Rhodes' spidery synthesizer and Simon LeBon's crypticisms garnered the post-match headlines, but the secret weapon was John Taylor's chic bass playing.

The intensity of the splashing colors, the texture of the expanding lines, the overall movement--Duran Duran were pop artists nonpareil.

83.  "Kiss"--Prince
Released 1986
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

So...Prince can make washing dishes sound sexy, correct?  I mean, in the unlikely event that his hollow-eyed cadre of purple-clad kitchen workers ever turned mutinous, thereby forcing him to scrub plates until replacements could be secured.

"Kiss" is hot sex even before the tiny man opens his mouth to let syllables flutter out.  Once he does, though, you've got a scorcher on your hands.  And on the rest of your body.

From proclaiming his preference for a warm body over a cool face to informing the listener that "Women, not girls/Rule my world," Prince is being a man about matters.  While busting out the falsetto. 

Women don't necessarily crave the bad guy.  Women just might want the guy who knows when to be decent and when to be indecent, for mutual benefit.  Take your shoes off.  Let your hair down.  Do it up. 

Keep It?  YES

82.  "Tempted"--Squeeze
Released 1981
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  Did not chart

"Tempted" has somehow endured despite exuding all the sexiness of a sandpaper roll.  Pasty Brit attempting to sell me on the Amis-osity of his general existence might have been successful if the song didn't sound like it was written in the 60s, recorded in the 70s, then finally mixed and released in the 80s. 

Reality bites, but fantasy chews.  "Tempted" is toothless.

Keep It?  NO

"Prince Charming"--Adam and the Ants
Released 1981
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  Did not chart (did, however, spend a month atop the UK singles chart...well done)

Lock your bathroom doors, ladies and gents!  Adam's come calling!

Acoustic meets electric meets marching band whose horn section has come down with malaria.  Part hypnosis session, part pep talk, "Prince Charming" came equipped with an arm-y dance that basically made it impossible for one's inner fabulousness to remain suppressed for one second longer.

Fight the wooden soldiers!  Assail the carbon copies!   You heard the general:  "Ridicule is nothing to be scared of."  (Which doesn't mean you're not allowed to tremble.) 

Goddard's London is closer to Godard's Paris, so wear that bag proud. 

81.  "Word Up"--Cameo
Released 1986
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  6

Oh, I may receive some manner of crap for this one.

Whenever I hear "Word Up!" I think of bad sex at even worse parties.  The too-imitable nasal vocals of the superbly monikered Larry Blackmon carried these five interminable minutes of blunt force trauma to great success.  Dude's got a "weird thing" to show the ladies, then implores us to dance by sprouting the hoariest of all the hoary hip-hop exhortations.  The flags could not have been more red.  This ball could not get more corn. 

Keep It?  NO

"Physical"--Olivia Newton-John
Released 1981
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

Oh yeah.  I'm preparing for a horse frisbee to the face.  But that's okay.  I'm not the same, I have no shame.

Surprise!  "Physical" is a hilarious and great pop song.  I'll compare it to an hour of cardio in that it just makes me feel good.  Much of the enjoyment comes from the cognitive dissonance experienced when hearing the queen of goody-good-shoes soft pop go practically soft-core.  The musical track itself isn't really very sexy, just an easy dance of nervous guitars and horns.  The lyrics, however, indulge in exaggerated winks and nods that grow ever more absurd until that glorious chorus, which is so alluring in its unstoppable corniness that even people who grit their teeth down by an eighth of an inch when they hear it can't imagine their lives without it. 

Olivia had her My Fair Lady moment in Grease, going from clean-cut expatriate to smokin' leather goddess, but her real-world image was always closer to the virginal cheerleader than the put-out queen.  Donna Summer's pleas for "Hot Stuff" were nothing if not believable.  The look, the voice...she screamed sultriness without having to scream at all.  When Olivia starts in on "body talk," one can reasonably infer these will be face-to-face discussions. 

But that's a large part of the appeal.  ONJ's late friend Karen Carpenter gave off similar vibes throughout the solo album her brother kept vaulted until presumed profitable.  Whether or not these milquetoast ladies singing frankly about the fun stuff worked, and to what extent, I think we can all agree--who the hell expected that from them?

"Physical" was second only to "We Are the World" on the list of biggest-selling singles of the decade.  The latters absence on this list is understandable, as it is even more wretched than it is well-intentioned, but I feel some denial was happening among the voters when it came to "Physical."  Just because the leg warmers were ugly doesn't mean the song should be punished!

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