I'm old enough to remember a time when we just listened to music. That method had its downside, though. For several years I thought the best Beatles songs were sung by Paul McCartney, because he was the cute Beatle. I was woefully wrong.
Thus, when MTV came along in the eighties, it was manna from heaven. Who needed a radio? And we actually knew what the guys and girls singing the songs looked like! This was a concept, like personal computers, that we didn't even know we needed -- until we discovered we did. Maybe I like eighties music so much because of MTV or maybe the music was just that good. I'm going with "that good".
There are one-hit wonders whose song we like; there are fads that now seem cheesy and what-the-hell-was-I-thinking; and then there is Hall and Oates:
Before the nineteen eighties, Tina Turner, to me, was Ike and Tina Turner -- you know, "rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river" and a gaggle of gals in sequined, tasseled dresses doing the frug...or some other sixties dance.
Surprisingly, Tina popped up again just when MTV came along. "What's Love Got To Do With It" put Tina back in the spotlight. Luckily. Because I heard her follow-up single on the radio a few days ago, and damn! It's bad! Here's how it goes (in its entirety):
I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
I'll do what you want me to do
I'm your private dancer, a dancer for money
And any old music will do
And that's it! As a songwriter, I think that's cheating. You can't just repeat the same four lines over and over! Yet it worked for Tina, so there's that.
That doesn't take away from her seminal hit. Let's listen (and watch):
Whatever happened to Deniece Williams? She had a hit single from one of those movies I never actually saw, Footloose. Which doesn't explain why I know the song so well, except for endless plays on MTV. I saw the non-existent fore-mentioned John Hughes movie featuring John Waite's song more times than I saw Footloose. That doesn't take away from the giddy poppishness that was "Let's Hear It For The Boy":
You know you remember this next track. You probably didn't get it -- it is in German (?) after all -- but that didn't stop you and everyone else from turning it into a hit. Number twenty-eight of the year is the incomprehensible hit by Nena -- I don't know whether that's the girl's name of the name of the band, but what does it matter, really?
Apparently in the eighties there was this band called "Journey" (which is a really cheesy name, when you think about it). I'm guessing they hit it big right before MTV came into existence, because I had absolutely no knowledge of them. Of course I know about Journey now. But I'm not (too) ashamed to admit that I had no clue who they were in 1984. All I knew was there was this great track by a guy named Steve Perry. I figured he was just a single act; a one-hit wonder. Hell of a singer, though. If someone handed me a list of pop songs and said, pick the best ones, I would pick this. I love this song:
Contrary to what Jack Black's character utters in High Fidelity, this is not the worst song ever recorded. Let's cut Stevie some slack, okay? I like it. I'll admit, though, that line in the movie made me feel supremely uncool. However, I'm okay with uncool. Uncool is the new cool. Number twenty-five!
Remember that list of pop songs someone gave me? Well, here's another one I'd pluck from it. My oldies station cued up this song as I was pulling into the Target parking lot, and I refused to kill the motor until I sat and listened to it all the way through. Elton John is a treasure and this song proves why:
Okay, I know I never saw the movie, Streets of Fire. I had to Google it to even know what it was. Nope, never ever saw it. Rick Moranis? Seriously? He was great on SCTV, and I loved him in Parenthood, but...nah....no clue. Nevertheless, I know this song, which again proves the power of music videos. This is Dan Hartman...who resides somewhere near Deniece Williams, I'm guessing; and they're both living off the royalties of their singular hit songs. I still like this one, though:
Confession: For years I hated, detested! Billy Joel. I think it was subliminal. I remember as a pre-teen listening to a radio show on KFYR on Sunday nights called Padre's Platters. It was hosted by a real-life priest. Seriously. Well, Padre (I don't remember his actual name) went on a tear one night about how sacrilegious Billy Joel's song, Only The Good Die Young, was. I guess because it blasphemed Catholic girls. Good Catholic girl that I was, in my subconscious I determined that listening to Billy Joel was akin to committing a mortal sin. That, plus I never liked how he yelled so much in his songs. I've come around a bit since then. I actually like some of Billy's tracks now and I'm ready to confess that I do. This one I really liked, mostly because I really liked the Four Seasons and this is a tribute to them:
Purists will say that Chicago ceased being Chicago when Peter Cetera joined the group. Poppists will say, there was a Chicago before Peter Cetera joined the group? Sorry, but hop off that high horse, guys. There wouldn't even be a nineteen eighties movie industry if it wasn't for Peter Cetera. Peter Cetera will easily duel with Kenny Loggins for the most tracks featured in hit eighties movies. Maybe he's an acquired taste -- I never had that problem. I always liked Peter's voice. Trust me, if it was just Saturday In The Park, I never would have purchased the "Best of Chicago". What screams the eighties more than Peter Cetera and Chicago? I bet the other Chicago guys, much as they disdain Peter, are living pretty high off their royalties.
This might be a good spot to bid adieu to 1984.
All in all, it was an excellent year for music.
I truly miss good years in music.