Friday, April 18, 2008

Rock & Roll - The Eighties - Part 1

As we've learned from previous posts, the '70's weren't a great decade for music. Oh sure, there were some good songs here and there (as I noted), but overall, the '70's kind of sucked, music-wise.


Plus, I'll admit, in the '80's, MTV was actually showing music videos (a weird concept, I admit). And music videos were new then. So, there was some creativity going on. Believe it or not. I enjoyed MTV back then. But, it all came down to the music. And I liked a lot of the music of the '80's. We can quibble, if you like. But you won't change my mind.


Music does go through cycles. The '60's were inventive; the '80's were re-inventive. The '70's were kind of sluggish. I don't know why. Maybe it was because of Jimmy Carter (ha!) I think maybe the artists of the '70's were like, "Damn! I missed out on all the good years of music! I can't top that! So, maybe I'll just tie a yellow ribbon 'round that old oak tree. Everybody's so sick and tired of Jimmy Carter, they'll buy anything that makes them feel good." Just a theory.


So, herewith, some songs from the '80's:


ROBERT PALMER - ADDICTED TO LOVE



Here's the CEO of Acme Products, Incorporated, conducting his semi-annual all-staff meeting. All decked out in his dress shirt and tie. "Well, we had a pretty good quarter, sales are up. I know these meetings can get a little dull, and if we didn't give you free donuts, most of you probably wouldn't even be here. Right, Big Larry? But, today, in lieu of the handouts I've prepared, I thought I'd sing you the third-quarter financial report. So, if the HR staff would join me up here. HIT IT, GIRLS!"



BILLY JOEL - UPTOWN GIRL

Anyone who knows me, knows that Billy Joel is not one of my favorite artists. However, this is one of the few Billy Joel songs that I actually like.

That said, remind me to never go to this garage to get my car serviced! While they're busy wiping down the headlights and acting like they're in the touring company of "Grease", my lug nuts are falling off, and I'm driving off on bare rims. Oh, and that'll be $199.95. Gee, thanks for the headlight cleaning, guys.


PRINCE - LET'S GO CRAZY

By means of clarification, "Purple Rain" and "When Doves Cry" are unavailable on YouTube. I think Prince had them removed. Cuz they were there before. That's okay, though. He's kind of protective of his privacy and what-not. This video will probably be gone before long, too, so I'll just be blogging about a video that's not even there. Thanks for making me look like a fool, Prince.

Anyway, Prince is from Minneapolis. He's the second most famous artist to hail from Minnesota. And deservedly so. I am a big fan of Prince and I'm glad that I could at least post one video from him (at least for the time being). If one looks back on the '80's (fondly, of course), and they try to decide who was the most influential artist of that decade, in hindsight, it wasn't Michael Jackson. Sorry. It was Prince.

This video was shot in Minneapolis. Yes, just another typical day in the neighborhood.


WHAM! - WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO GO

Isn't this just the cheesiest video ever? The first time I saw this video, I wondered if it was some kind of youth worship group....you know, with the "Choose Life" tee shirts and all.

And it seems like kind of a lopsided partnership. Andrew: "Hey! You get all the screen time!" George (hip-thrusting Andrew off the stage): "That's because I have the BLINDINGLY white teeth and the impossibly short shorts!"

And weird that both George Michael and the back-up girls had the exact same hair style. Easy day for the hairdresser, I guess.


STEVE WINWOOD - ROLL WITH IT



Filmed in the 1930's, one doesn't realize that Steve Winwood is actually over 100 years old! Here he was, in his prime, and he even goes back further, back to the 1890's, when he was with the Spencer Davis Group! He's held up well!

This is one of my favorite songs from the era (you know, from the dust bowl days). Nevertheless, in all seriousness, it is one of my favorite songs. I 'm a big Steve Winwood fan.


Let's talk now about two of the most enduring acts from the '80's.

The first:

HUEY LEWIS & THE NEWS - HEART AND SOUL

Here's our San Francisco stockbroker, taking a rare break from his stockbroking duties to visit a nightclub (for the first time).

What's this he sees up on the stage? His alter ego, in a sleeveless white tee shirt, acting all cool and carrying around that microphone. So emboldened, our shy stockbroker decides to choose the frizzy-haired blonde girl in the frilly plus-size tunic to be his dance partner. As he tries to leave the nightclub with his new "girlfriend", he finds that behind every door he opens is a member of the "News" (and behind one door, a steam locomotive!) Eeek! Finally! They find a door that leads to the alley! Whew! That was very spine-tingling! And so he takes Frizzy back to his office to show her his "ticker-tapes". The end.


HALL & OATES - PRIVATE EYES

The Moonlighting Mafioso Band appears here, led by Daryl Hall, wearing his green huge shoulder-padded sports coat. And who knew that the mafia had such rhythm? Those hand-claps seem just like gunshots! So, in essence, rock band/mafia family ~ apparently pretty much the same, in Daryl Hall's world.


BON JOVI - LIVIN' ON A PRAYER


The first thing that strikes me about this video is - hey! Look at that hair! I guess that's where Pantene made its fortune. All that conditioner that the boys in the Jovi band were buying. Cuz believe me, when you get those curly perms, you need a LOT of conditioner. I remember that from the eighties.

This video is from back before Jon Bon Jovi decided he was a country artist - ha!

I always liked this one, with Jon attached to the harness, so he could fly out above the audience. They did things BIG in the eighties.


PETER GABRIEL - SLEDGEHAMMER


This is no doubt the most inventive video of the eighties. Seeing this kind of makes me wonder if Peter was living in "crazy world" when he filmed this. Cuz, man! This is disorienting! Still good, though!


WE INTERRUPT THIS EIGHTIES FLASHBACK TO BRING YOU THIS IMPORTANT VIDEO:



Maybe it's just me, but I think these guys are hilarious. They were so stupid, and yet, so smart-alecky. What more could you ask for? That's me in a nutshell.....stupid, yet smart-alecky. I guess that's why Beavis is my hero.


THE POLICE - EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE


This is the video that sealed The Police's fame. Black and white. Sting and his upright bass. Sting the Stalker. I mean, really, if you think about this song, it's really creepy. I need to go peer out my window, to make sure no one is out there on the street.......with an upright bass.


MICHAEL JACKSON - BILLIE JEAN


One should never forget how HUGE Michael Jackson was in the eighties. This is from Motown's 30th Anniversary Special. You know, the moonwalk, the single white glove, all that stuff. If only Michael could have maintained that semblance of normalcy. But it was not to be. And now we look at Michael as basically a pervert. And a weirdo. And insane.

But back in the eighties, the only thing we wondered about Michael was why he kept insisting that the CHAIR was not his son.


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN - DANCING IN THE DARK


Here is a young Bruce Springsteen, wearing his bowling shirt. Dancing awkwardly. Basically doing the one-armed dance. Alas, Bruce can no longer do the "one-armed dance", because Bruce is old now.

But this video features the E Street Band, including a weirdly androgynous Clarence Clemens and also that guy from Late Night With Conan O'Brien. I would know his name, except I am unable to stay up that late.

This video is notable for the appearance of Courtney Cox, who later, of course, went on to star in "Friends", and is now WAY richer than Bruce himself. Funny how things work out.

Naive as I was, I actually thought, at the time, that this was a real audience member, plucked out of the crowd to dance (awkwardly) with Bruce. Ah, the media. It manipulates people. I'm WAY smarter than that now. In hindsight.


USA FOR AFRICA - WE ARE THE WORLD


I just realized that I could have skipped all the other videos and just included this one, since what better representation of the eighties could there be? Look at these guys! Stevie Wonder, Huey Lewis, Cindi Lauper, Springsteen, Bob Dylan (and it was sort of lame that Quincy Jones told him to sing it in more of a "Dylan" style), Joe Perry, Kenny Loggins, Tina Turner, Lionel Ritchie. Michael, off by himself, singing, so no one could touch him. Odd that they included Willie, since I don't know exactly where he fit in the pantheon of eighties rock. Ray Charles - yay! I'm not exactly sure why Dan Ackroyd was there, but, okay! A bunch of Jacksons. Diana Ross. Well, I can't remember them all. But suffice it to say, this is the eighties in a nutshell.


Part two will be forthcoming. As I thought about this topic, I realized that I have only scratched the surface of music videos from the eighties. And watching VH1's program, "Top Videos Of The Eighties" today only made me feel more insecure in my choices.

So, if the seventies rate a two-parter, surely the eighties demand the same courtesy.

But this is a good primer, don't you think?























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