Wednesday, September 10, 2014

(It's Not Nostalgia) It's the 80s Express--Pt. 17

36.  "867-5309/Jenny"--Tommy Tutone

Released 1982
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  4

The most legendary phone number in pop history (though I'd rather it be "6060-842").  I despise being referred to by "Jenny," but this song has nothing to do with that.  Another Tommy is to blame for that....

Can't go awry looking to bathroom walls for entertainment:  digits, accusations of hyperactive libido, exclamations of joyous couplehood, catchy slogans, dick doodles.  Dime-a-dozen skinny ties go to take a leak and accidentally crafted a mini-legend.  All three songwriters tell different origin stories, though, which is my official cue to not care and just enjoy the tuneage.

Keep It?  YES

35.  "In the Air Tonight"--Phil Collins

Released 1981
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  19

Or, if you're an idiot, "In the Air of the Night."

The whole time the listener is just waiting the roof to collapse.  It does.  And then that's that.  Thanks for making air drums mainstream, dude.

Keep It?  NO

"Sledgehammer"--Peter Gabriel

Released 1986
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

"Sledgehammer" is a song about fucking.  The sledgehammer refers to a penis.  The fruit cage of verse two fame refers to a vagina.  The much-honored video is a safe, clean representation of two playful lovers.

But you knew all that already...right?

The horny horns, the synthesized flute.  The whole damn thing is a magnificent gliding innuendo.  The radiant glory of a breakfast in bed with extra strawberries and cream.

34.  "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"--Poison

Released 1988
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

Horrifying.  I want to avert my soul away from this power ballad shit-show.  I have a list of the Top 5 Objects I'd Sooner Smuggle Through Airport Customs In My Anal Cavity Than Listen To "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" Ever Again.  Oh truly, nothing is more bitterly romantic than a cowboy.  Bret Michaels is such a tool.

This was the number one song in America for the week beginning Christmas Eve 1988.  Amazing that Christmas wasn't cancelled that year.

Keep It?  NO

"Velcro Fly"--ZZ Top

Released 1985
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  35

"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" could easily be replaced on this list with a post-KFC bowel movement, but I've done much better than that.

"Velcro Fly" is a tightly-choreographed stomp--THE GOD DRUMS--along the fat back of a giant.  It's also the most dated-sounding single of ZZ Top's prosperous synth-groove period.  So of course I love it.  How could I resist what is pretty much "Fuck Like An Egyptian"--with handy tips!

The final minute (give or take) ain't but a Texas pyramid scheme, courtesy of Billy Gibbons (as I live and breathe!) and his six-string derring-do.  Oh, you don't like Billy's guitar playing?  That's okay, you know who did?  Jimi Hendrix.

33.  "Tainted Love"--Soft Cell

Released 1982
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  8

Originally recorded in 1965 by Gloria Jones, "Tainted Love" isn't merely a case of "the original is better" but also of "B-side wins again."  A Motown-flavored cut with fast and feisty horns playing nice alongside tasty guitar licks, it didn't make much of an impact riding on the back of a flop single.  Almost a decade later, "Tainted Love" found the audience it richly deserved among those in the UK Northern Soul club scene.

Soft Cell's rendition was of course the much bigger hit--so much so, many many fans of the song don't realize it was a cover.  Listening to the two versions back-to-back is amusing--a heartbroken yet defiant woman, chin up in the air, her voice clear and loud above the fray gives way to a heartbroken and morose man, chin scraping the ground, his voice slow and low amid the carnival where everyone else is having fun but him.

Ah, those innocent days.  When the word "taint" had only a single meaning to me.

Keep It?  NO

"Shattered Dreams"--Johnny Hates Jazz

Released 1987
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  2

A late 80s gem that gets overlooked for the sexier likes of INXS and George Michael, not to mention  the whole anti-sexy "mall-pop" movement, "Shattered Dreams" is what unfolds when a song decides to throw itself an all-white pity party to combat the spluttering black hole gaping in the center of its chest.  Last dance of the night is a foxtrot, do try and keep up.

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