Critique, criticism, criticaster (it’s a word, look it up). Let’s take a break from all that, shall we? This week, no feelings will be squashed, no words will be misquoted nor names misspelled. A great spiritual leader once said, “If it’s not fun, why bother?” I agree, oh little grasshopper.
So let’s take a stroll through the fabulous ’80s. What a bubble-gum time for music! Launching the decade, MTV played its first video, the Buggles’ prophetically self-fulfilling “Video Killed the Radio Star.” You could no longer look like Ted Nugent or Iggy Pop and get away with it. There was now mousse, makeup and bangles — literally and figuratively: Prince even wrote a hit (“Manic Monday”) for the kind of Bangles you don’t wear.
Remember Kajagoogoo? That was an actual band — a band with a lone hit: “Too Shy.” The accompanying video enjoyed heavy rotation for a time, with the blond lead singer, moussed to the hilt, singing on stage in a portentously empty bar.
Whatever happened to Big Country? Riding four-wheelers around Scotland — was it supposed to make some sort of sense? And Bananarama — what was that about? Charlie’s Angels on acid. Dexy’s Midnight Runners came in second for hyperactivity, dancing around like crazed animals in their video for “C’mon Eileen,” wearing overalls — and nothing else. The Thompson Twins, a British trio, actually had a female keyboardist who shaved off her eyebrows. She was quoted in an interview saying that the first time she started to sweat after shaving them off, she realized we have eyebrows to keep the sweat out of our eyes. Rocket science this is not.
And speaking of science, Thomas Dolby blinded me — everyone, really — with that very thing; soon after, Corey Hart wisely acquired his “Sunglasses at Night.” Which leads me to recall that a Tears for Fears song played a role in the movie Donnie Darko. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was that band’s first chart-topper, and I think there was one other, officially making the duo two-hit wonders.
Tiffany — I can’t go there. Mall city. And Debbie Gibson. She’s still around, sort of (be sure to call her “Deborah” now). Martina was another 15-minute teen sensation with her hit “Toy Soldier,” while Patty Smythe shot down the walls of heartache, bang, bang — she was “The Warrior.” (I met her at a NYC club where I workied at the time. She was dating the bass player from the Letterman band. I’m not sure what she’s up to these days. We didn’t really keep in touch.)
Aimee Mann of ‘Til Tuesday was too cool for school with her super-big bleached-white hair. Having graduated from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, Ms. Mann has gone on to become quite the successful composer (i.e., the Magnolia soundtrack).
If I remember correctly, actor/comedian Eddie Murphy recorded an album of songs in the ’80s. Hmmm … maybe he was just dropping off a copy to that hooker he wasn’t picking up a few years ago. And Sylvester Stallone’s brother tried his hand at being a rock star, too. What a frightening time to be alive.
If you were too young in the ’80s to remember these people, or maybe too old to care, you’re probably better off. But that would mean you missed New Kids on the Block and Menudo, and that would be a real shame. Today’s boy bands just don’t hold a candle, if you know what I mean.
So many has-beens, would’ve-beens, could’ve-beens, so little time. I suppose we all become has-beens after we die. The lucky ones are those who don’t have to shave off their eyebrows or sing in a mall to figure that out.
Bo Post is a free-lance photographer and lover of opinions. She will be sharing hers with Mountain Xpress readers during the month of August as she writes Random Acts (giving Steve Shanafelt a much-deserved vacation). You can soon view some of Bo’s work at www.Onionmusic.com