Thursday, September 4, 2014

(It's Not Nostalgia) It's the 80s Express--Pt. 11

60.  "Bust A Move"--Young MC
Released 1989
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  7

Less than a year after penning "Wild Thing" for label mate Tone-Loc, Young MC took a rhyming look at the clothed side of the love game.  I barely buy that this was the same dude who wrote about "when bodies start slappin'"--I mean, Young MC recorded songs about fly ladies and dope parties.  He rapped about school.  Dude coulda believably appeared onscreen rapping whilst wearing a beanie cap.  If he showed up at some old white lady's doors with candy bars and began flowing about how school fundraisers are "funky fresh," guarantee that broad would buy every damn bar he had and then call his school the next day to gush about that "adorable little black boy" who rhymed "Three Musketeers" with "we must adhere."

Eschewing the harsh portrayals urban life might have earned Young MC the enmity of hip hop at large (especially coming a year after NWA's Straight Outta Compton scandalized white America), but the crazed radio and TV airplay more than made up for his lack of street cred, not to mention the indescribable joy one feels upon realizing they've foisted a new catchphrase for the world to abuse.

Keep It?  NO

"I'm Bad"--LL Cool J
Released 1987
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  84

The timelessness of LL's self-admiring tetralogy can best be explained by the man himself, over a dippy bassline with a great butt.

"I got a gold nameplate that says I wish you would." (take that, Bad Motherfucker wallet)

"Forget Oreos, eat Cool J cookies."

"My hat is like a shark fin!"

"I'm notorious, I'll crush you like a jelly bean."

Bonus points for the use of only a single obscenity.  Another bonus point for said expletive being my very favorite one.  In fact I just used it in this review.

59.  "Jack and Diane"--John Cougar
Released 1982
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

John Cougar:  Average Indiana boy, raising daughters alongside his average wife, working hard and honest, makin' a livin' with emotionally candid "heartland rock," right until the day they bury him in a humble plot by a humble home. 

John Mellencamp:  Big ol' superstar, dumps wife for hot model eighteen years his junior, fathers the sons he always wanted, and continues producing workmanlike music that keeps selling because it turns out there's still a lot of people who find it reassuring.

"Jack and Diane" is a bittersweet rumination on ruination.  The road of life, if traveled long enough, ends at the intersection of decay and death.  Oh wait, there's an acoustic guitar and some hand claps, wooo turn it up!

(Why does no one talk about "Lonely Ol' Night"?  That was a great single.  I could make out on a creaky front-porch swing for hours to that one.)

Keep It?  NO

"Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely"--Husker Du
Released 1986
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  Did not chart

The finest moment from one of the decade's finest bands is a cry.  Of exhaustion.  For help.  Against the past. 

Damaged soul reacts the only way it knows how:  discouraging contact of all kinds, beating the inexorable reality into the ground.  That bent note at the end of the main riff isn't being played on a heartstring, but it might as well be.

A pop-punk masterwork too searing to be sad, too precise to be just another party starter.  Green Day's cover can suck my asshole clean.  Twice.

58.  "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?"--Culture Club
Released 1982
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

"To All the Boys I've Loved Before."

Boy George sure befuzzled some people.  "Is that boy?  A girl?"  Was it important?  "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" resists all question save its own, a simple torch song that subsists on berries, beans, nuts and wine. 

Naturally, the lyrics read like a sociopath decided to "decompress" by writing a quick poem on his forearm.  "I have danced inside your eyes/How can I be real?"  Oh well.  If it's good enough for Snoopy, it's good enough for me. 

Keep It?  YES

57.  "Mickey"--Toni Basil
Released 1982
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

Toni's true talent--dancing--was evidenced in the music video for "Mickey," which put unattractive cheerleaders on MTV nearly ten years before "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  As a singer, she made a passable drill sergeant.  One need not possess the pipes of Aretha to narrate what is essentially a kinky date night.  "There's something we can use"?  "Any way you want to do it, I'll take it like a man?"  No doubt there is, and no doubt you will.

Keep It?  YES

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