Tuesday, September 16, 2014

(It's Not Nostalgia) It's the 80s Express--Pt. 23

12.  "How Will I Know"--Whitney Houston

Released 1985
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

Absolutely her greatest hit--zap gun and all that.  The ultimate dance music that wasn't just for the sake of dancing, 80s Division.  Written for Janet Jackson, can you imagine?  "How Will I Know" is saved from glucose poisoning by Whitney's searing vocal performance.  Feels good, is good.

Keep It?  YES

11.  "Don't Stop Believin'"--Journey

Released 1981
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  9

I promised myself I would refrain from commenting on cover art, but damnit....Steve Perry is either the only member of Journey who doesn't believe, or he's the one who believes most of all.

"Don't Stop Believin'" plays on a loop in the head of a guy filling up his truck at a Sheetz after midnight.  "Don't Stop Believin'" is the song that keeps a girl from falling asleep some sweaty August night despite the fact that the AC unit is set to "Igloo" and she's lying in bed totally butt-ass nude.  "Don't Stop Believin'" makes a restaurant patron think twice about ordering onion rings.

Pretty sure that piano riff has been around since time immemorial.  Even before the actual instrument itself came into existence, those notes were heard by dinosaurs, a sort of prehistoric Taos Hum.  Just way catchier.

We're not born to lose; we're born to play the game.  Except Steve Perry, who was clearly born just to sing.

Keep It?  YES

10.  "You Shook Me All Night Long"--AC/DC

Released 1980
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  35

My heart fell into my stomach, my stomach fell to my feet, and as I stood there virtually paralyzed, only one thought was able to cohere in my brain:  This top ten is going to suck the baked beans out of a pig's ass.

Gravel-gargler extraordinaire Brian Johnson wrote this ode to a specific womankind after staring out of a window and seeing nothing but cars and women passing by on the street below.  Epiphany!  Cars and women are the same!  "They go fast and then they let you down."

There are women whose idea of a rip-roarin' good time is getting their tits out to "You Shook Me All Night Long" and friends, that is the precise type of woman I aspire to avoid becoming.

"She kept her motor clean."  Okay, seriously?  Piss off, Bri.  To the cornfield with you and that dopey hat.

Keep It?  NO

"Gigantic"--The Pixies

Released 1988
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  Did not chart

Oh yes.  It's that time yet again.  Time for a woman to swoop down and save what's left of the day.  Frank Black ain't but a grown Charlie Brown.  Kim Deal is Lucy with the tricked-out psychiatrists booth; for a nickel, she'll dispense with a bag of quarters across a patient's face.  Value.

Few subjects for songs can go more right than a white girl besotted by big ol' black dick.  It truly has the power.  It's right there in your hand. 

Feedback as foreplay.  The crash and crush, the cranking raunch.

9.  "Walk This Way"--Run DMC featuring Steven Tyler and Joe Perry

Released 1986
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  4

A top ten hit when Aerosmith released it a decade earlier, and deservedly so.  "Walk This Way" moves with the swagger of a lion in the wild.  The remake, however, is a song in the same way that string cheese is food.

Neither Run DMC nor Aerosmith wanted to do the collaboration that would mark hip-hop's breakthrough into the pop-rock mainstream, and Rick Rubin really should have taken the massive hint.  Changing the world doesn't preclude a thing from being essentially meritless.  Rap was not going to be denied; the world did not need "Walk This Way" to happen.  Another song, likely a more deserving one at that, would have turned the trick key eventually.

I liked Run DMC growing up; two forceful voices going back-and-forth over heavy beats and heavy guitars was hard to resist for anyone who liked to fill up the room when they turned on their stereo.  However, their formula falls flat here because Tyler's lyrics are thus enunciated.  "You ain't seen nothin' till you're down on a muffin."  "I met a cheerleader, was a real big bleeder."  Rick Rubin, Jedi master with the heart of a Sith. 

Worse yet, the success of "Walk This Way" resurrected Aerosmith, which was kinda heart-warming at the time, but then "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" happened, and all that goodwill took a headfirst dive into a Scottish shitter.

You want a good rap/rock collabo?  I'll give you a great one.  You're welcome!

Keep It?  NO

"Rock Box"--Run DMC

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

Kick a hole in the speaker, pull the plug and then Run DMC just beat Rakim's ass for screwing up their equipment.

Loud, proud, commanding, demanding...don't write while listening to Run DMC.

Driven this way and that way by Eddie Martinez' guitar playing and the real god drums, "Rock Box" is a five and a half minutes of classic hip-hop.  Once I turn it on, I have to turn it up. 

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