Saturday, August 30, 2014

(It's Not Nostalgia) It's the 80s Express--Pt. 6

80.  "It Takes Two"--Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock
Released 1988
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  36

Rob and Rodney weren't an all-time hip-hop duo like Erick and Parrish or Keith and Chris, but "It Takes Two" is one of the genre's all-time great songs, braggadocious lyrics over brazen sampling that enhances any night out, whether by the grill or in the club.  It's all party and bullshit.  Create your own space.

Rob Base's basic rhyme schemes could have been overwhelmed by the monstrous beat if he didn't have personality in excelsis.  By verse four, the line between written and freestyle rhyme has been blurred as Rob disses America's favorite burger after earlier on having tsk-tsk'ed America's favorite drug.

Twenty-six years later, "It Takes Two" makes current mainstream rap seems soulless and spineless.  You kids get off my lawn unless you're there to do something fun.

Keep It?  YES

79.  "Don't You Want Me"--The Human League

Released 1981
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

Gender politics at play.  Take a side, or don't.  Probably not worth the trouble when the most vitriolic disagreement between the couple concerned make-up.  She's moved on, dude.  Moved on to a new Svengali, one with an even more androgynous look, with an even bigger Roxy Music poster in his bedroom in his much larger apartment, with access to more luxurious make-up.  Back to trawling clubs for the just-born, buddy.

"Don't You Want Me" is a nice little bite of marshmallow creme, without the chocolate and cracker.

(Producer Martin Rushent claims Susan Salley needed sixty takes to nail her verse.  My Lord.)

Keep It?  NO

"Destination Unknown"--Missing Persons
Released 1982
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  42

My go-to existential crisis love theme.  Dale Bozzio and the boys remind listeners--with era-appropriate phlegmaticness--that one day they will hear nothing, so live well in the mean times.

A pulsing chunk of new wave sung by a flesh and bone Dazzler would seem an unlikely candidate to make my mood morose even as it makes my muffin move, but the afterlife is a funny thing that way.

Spiritualism may appear to be a flimsy hat-rack, right alongside the classic Christian vision of Heaven.  Each set of believers posits that a person's experience does not end once physical death occurs.  The non-corporeal form persists onto a spiritual realm.  (While Christians have named such a place, Spiritualists have not.)  This is a nice thought. It is not entirely comforting.  'Cause we are living in a material world and I am a material girl.  I have no real comprehension of a world beyond ours.  Spiritualist belief insists that the soul retains the experiences and memories of the shell, but there is a very real possibility that oblivion is all that awaits.  I personally suspect otherwise.  And if I'm proven wrong, at least won't have the opportunity to be disappointed.

78.  "Call Me"--Blondie
Released 1980
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

If prostitution were as effervescently cool as "Call Me" makes it sound, I'd be in my scar-free tenth year of fakin' for a livin'.

Neither man nor machine can resist the spell-binding sounds conjured forth by Giorgio Moroder , AKA "Young Orpheus."  Add on a generous amount of sexy woman for whom hard work is easy money--that would be the one the only the Debbie Harry--and dance to the ignition until consciousness is lost.  Angels and snakes, tirelessly tempting each other.

My God, she has multiple tongues!  You might not have to dance to pass out after all.

Keep It?  YES

77.  "Candy Girl"--New Edition
Released 1983
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  46

Great, another song about the general-ass ways this person loves this other person.

I never got into New Edition.  Jackson 5 did it better years before, and Another Bad Creation did it better years after.  "Candy Girl" was their introduction to the world at large, and while it didn't blaze up the pop charts, it did hit top spot on the Billboard R&B chart.  Two years later, New Edition finally cracked the top ten of the Hot 100 with "Cool It Now."  Yet this relative underachiever is the one VH-1's voters went for.  Doesn't matter; everything these kids were attached to rotted my teeth faster than Coke (or coke) and their cutesy-pie day-glo-explodo fashion sense gets to me thinking what bahr each member is.

Puppy love is only acceptable between puppies.

Keep It?  NO

"Hill Street Blues Theme"--Mike Post
Released 1981
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  10

Earlier this year, the fine folks at Shout Factory atoned for the sins of 20th Century Fox when they blessed humanity with a 34-disc box set compiling all 144 episodes of the greatest television drama ever, in the best quality, all official and stuff.  Yep, five great seasons of "good" guys and "bad" guys, justice served and unserved, from the streets to the courts, it's all in there.  As well as those two seasons of the mephitic "Norman Buntz Show," which is what happened when writer/producer David Milch could no longer keep it in his pants when thinking about Dennis Franz's rough-hewn, rule-bending cop character and the other writers in the room were too scared to plea for decency.  

Befitting a network show that refused to be procedural-as-usual, Mike Post's piano piece gorgeously evokes the melancholia inherent in the emotionally hazardous world of law enforcement.  Street cops, junkies, whores, big-time pushers and small-time puller--the heartbeats and nerve impulses of every character, both integral and peripheral, can be heard in this serene counterpoint to the cranky, cranked-up streets they roam.

Amusingly, even as the theme song was climbing the Billboard charts on its way to the top ten, the show itself was languishing in the bottom ten of the Nielsen ratings.  While Hill Street Blues would never reach the popularity of other NBC shows of the era (Cheers, LA Law), quality storytelling and pioneering presentation guaranteed a loyal audience sizable enough to appease the suit-and-tie guys.  Good thing, too; without the influence of HSB, dramatic television would not have evolved to the point where it single-handedly justified the medium itself being considered an "art form." 

Also, we never would have been introduced to Vic Hitler, the narcoleptic comic. 

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