Wednesday, August 27, 2014

(It's Not Nostalgia) It's the 80s Express--Pt. 3

92.  "You Got It (The Right Stuff)"--New Kids on the Block

Released 1988 
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  3

Oh-oh oh-oh-oh!


I was on the cusp of adolescence when the white, older New Edition began taking over the pop charts.  I cringed as their sugar-smothered songs subjugated the radio.  I sighed at all the other girls in middle school arguing over which Kid was the cutest, or which one sang the best. I felt bad for Danny, as he was never brought up in either of those conversations.

Here I am over twenty years later, still in disbelief that anyone anywhere bothers to remember these guys with anything other than the utmost derision.  NKOTB songs had all the guts of a Jack the Ripper victim.  "The Right Stuff" is not an outlier in their catalog, friend-o's.  There are no outliers.  No guilty pleasures, no begrudgingly tolerable album tracks.  Top to bottom, these douchenozzles warbled on top of some of the worst music of the decade.  Like so many disposable poppets, they were good for a Weird Al parody and nothing else.

Keep It?  NO

"You Got It All"--The Jets

Released 1986
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  3

What even is the right stuff?  Is it something physical or metaphysical?  Is it something motional or emotional?  Wouldn't it be better to be with someone who has it all? 

I may be giving songwriter Rupert Holmes too much credit for intent, but he definitely deserves praise for versatility.  After cementing his own one-hit wonder status with some unscrupulous cruise-ship pop, he gave supernovas to two other artists.  One was a jaunty cannibal-rock novelty tune, and the other was a demure R&B ballad that I'm positive went down a storm at all those school dances I never attended. 

Holmes' lyrics are puppy-love pablum, but the young Wolfgramm family sway along to the innocence, delivering a killer chorus that doesn't need reinforcement, but hey, can't hurt.  That sax part is pure Friday night at the diner sipping a milkshake and wondering if life will get easier when you get older.

91.  "Walking On Sunshine"--Katrina and the Waves

Released 1985
U.S Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  9

Repetition is the key that I will jam into some poor person's left ear if I hear "Walking On Sunshine" ever again.  Which I most certainly will.  As will you.

The worst of the song's multitudinous sins is being more thrilled with life than should be allowed.  A woman in a long-distance romance has just received a letter from her schnookums and she's so overjoyed that she's practically...y'know.  Ever eat a PB & J crafted by amateurish hands?  You end up biting down on a sandwich that is either too sweet or too dense.  This is that PB & J.

To boot, one of the most retroactively unfortunate band monikers ever.

Keep It?  NO

"Song For a Future Generation"--The B-52's

Released 1983
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  Did not chart

Some folks can't make it through these interplanetary personal ads set to new wave music without dry heaving.  Still others swear "Future Generation" is a feel-good must-have, a zany cosmic gift barely fit for earthlings.

I am of the second group.  I am the Empress King President Queen of the second group.

All five B's take the mic for the first time in their recorded history to deliver on a fabulous concept that encapsulates their indomitable spirit sure as any outrageous bouffant wig ever did.  Skinny-dipping on Titan, and the living's easy.

90.  "Wild Thing"--Tone-Loc

Released 1988
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  2

Meet Tone-Loc.  By day, a working stiff.  By night, a working stiff at play.  That's right, Tone-Loc is a player, not a pimp, and if you are unaware of the differences, a major one is that a player's hat is never worn on his head.

Meet "Wild Thing."  A guy with a voice so deep that people stopped whatever they were doing the first time they heard it raps tawdry tales over familiar classic rock sample.  Great for the first twenty listens, good the next ten, the impetus for a killing spree every listen thereafter.  Far too many juvenile verses that do not reward further scrutiny.  (Dude's MC name shoulda been Too Long.)

Tone-Loc followed up his smash debut with "Funky Cold Medina."  Many noticed it was pretty much the same song.  Few seemed to care.

Keep It?  NO

"I Feel For You"--Chaka Khan

Released 1984  
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  3

Love song?  Read my fingertips--"I Feel For You" ain't a love song.  Pure lust--naw, that's an oxymoron.  "I think I love you."  Well then, until a decision has been reached, let's shuffle back to bed, eh?  Don't you wanna be my harmonica?

There's just something about getting her taco popped that inspires a woman to somersault into a pool of liquid gold while wearing a silver catsuit.

89.  "Brass in Pocket"--The Pretenders

Released 1979
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  14

Chrissie Hynde wasn't radical enough for the future generation of grrrls, but variety is the spice.  Her sassy-assed alto shunned sentimentality to voice formidable portraits of needy-yet-strong (reverse that) women of the world.

Keep It?  NO

"Talk of the Town"--The Pretenders

Released 1980
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  Did not chart

Maybe change sucks.  Certainly stasis sucks out.

Refusal to politicize her art aside, Hynde's taste in games leaned more toward chess than Hungry Hungry Hippos.  As a restless lass eager to express herself despite lacking a sufficient handle on my talents and ideas, the Pretenders were practically easy listening music.  Now, as a restless woman with a much surer understanding of her creative center, I hear a song like "Talk of the Town" and recognize the brilliance.  Not only is it structured like a grease-slick short story, it's bound together by a Byrdsian guitar riff.  I tend to be a sucker for a Byrdsian guitar riff.

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