dirty martini

old music for new people

acceptable in the 80s January 23, 2008

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 in the 80s, if you ran out of adjectives to describe something or someone, you just made one up.

add that to the obsession for electricity, anything that sounded remotely robotic or computerlike, and bam, you have a hit record. you had to be crazy, bad, make no sense or all of the above. in the 00s peter andre tried to revive this trend by creating ‘insania’ but we just ignored him…

these tracks follow that formula, and are just SO 80s, i love it.

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atlantic starr – freakaristic

this lot were better known for their ballads, so this was a welcome departure. those wild and crazy kids…

billy griffin – systematic

in the 80s everyone had a ‘system’.

brutus – excitation

not a real word. not brutus as in popeye – god who would name their kid brutus?

dazz band – joystick

very futuristic band, and the only example i could find of ‘joystick’. i mean, i don’t have to explain this euphemism do i?

gazebo – lunatic

hot on the heels of flashdance’s ‘she’s a maniac’ (think 118 118 ads). being a lunatic was a good thing back then.

general johnson – x rated love

if ‘love’ becomes x rated, it’s probably not ‘love’ but er, something else. but we still had some decency in the 80s.

kids from fame – hi fidelity

every kids from fame song is so 80s and none of them would survive in any other decade. not even in high school musical.

klymaxx – video kid

in the 80s, video meant video games. they’re just games now. in the 80s ‘games’ meant board games, buckaroo, connect 4 and hungry hippos.

midnight star – scientific love

scientific love…doesn’t sounds very exciting but we all lusted after those at home bunsen burner kits in the argos catalogue back then so, perhaps that was why.

phil collins – sussudio

apparently phil was criticised for trying to make this sound like prince’s ‘1999’. i’m not quite getting that, but, i do like it.

prince – shockadelica

prince can do what he wants anyway. so when he invented ‘shockadelica’ we didn’t argue.

zapp and roger – computer love

one of the first songs to advocate the idea that emotions and computers weren’t mutually exclusive.

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high school musical: by john hughes December 9, 2007

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the name ‘john hughes’ might not mean much to anyone under 30.

but those born in the 60s and 70s know that john hughes ruled 80s teen movies. he used the all conquering brat pack throughout the series and molly ringwald, anthony michael hall, andrew mccarthy, ally sheedy and judd nelson have failed to capture comparable success since.

the characters, ferris bueller apart, emerged from obscurity to challenge and overcome their shallower rivals. the difference between the UK and US became apparent watching these films. cheerleading and after school activity in general was not cool. the outcasts who drank, smoked and hung out in smoky clubs were more easily identifiable.

top 10 conventions of the john hughes high school movie:

  1. unrequited love
  2. blonde bitchy cheerleaders
  3. good looking social outcast
  4. annoying younger brother and sister
  5. rich vs poor
  6. geeks who play cards
  7. main character has saturday job
  8. demon headmaster
  9. deluded parents
  10. implausible hookup

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pretty in pink

omd – if you leave, nik kershaw – wouldn’t it be good

molly ringwald wasn’t the best candidate for a 90% pink wardrobe, being ginger and all. my favourite character was the lounging steff, a vision in white linen as he sauntered around the school. of course he was about 30 at the time so youthful awkwardness may have been an acting lesson too far for james spader. obligatory indie club scene is present and correct, as is gym class bitching between molly and blonde cheerleader with one sided ponytail.

the breakfast club

simple minds – dont you forget about me, karla devito – we are not alone

this movie defined the high school stereotypes throughout all of john hughes’ films – the princess whose parents drink and fights, the jock who only plays football to please his dad, the geek who came close to blowing up the school, the outcast with the attitude who everyone secretly fancies and the outcast with the messy hair who puts on some mascara and – voila!- pulls the captain of the football team.

sixteen candles

spandau ballet – true, wham – young guns

charlie sheen-alike senior dumps blonde cheerleader girlfriend for ginger nobody with no experience. US high school can’t be that tough then. the highlight of this movie is exchange student long duck dong, who in the politically incorrect 80s instantly becomes ‘the weird chinese guy in mike’s room’ since no one can be bothered to pronounce his name.

ferris bueller’s day off

yello – oh yeah, wayne newton – danke schoen

not as popular as ‘no one puts baby in the corner’, but much funnier, ‘no one leaves my cheese out in the wind’ was just one great moment from headmaster ed rooney. how come matthew broderick doesn’t get any older?  why didn’t we see more from the actor who played cameron, than just a cameo in ‘speed’? how did ferris have all that technology in one room?

weird science

oingo boingo – weird science, los lobos – don’t worry baby

this movie led a million adolescent boys to cling to the belief that beyond the rejection of every single girl in their class, was the possibility of a kelly le brock-alike if they could only tap a few passwords into a chunky computer and attach some wires to a couple of potatoes and a lava lamp. hence the IT skills crisis once these delusionals graduated about a decade later.

some kind of wonderful

propaganda – dr mabuse, stephen duffy – she loves me

two outcasts who clearly belong together, but one has loftier ambitions. apparently some viewers were unhappy that ‘pretty in pink’ saw the rich boy get the girl, and this movie was developed to redress the balance. one question – if you know turning up to a party will almost definitely get your arse kicked…why go?

 

high school musical: the 90s December 8, 2007

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it’s a testament to the scary times we live in that something as anodyne, safe and unchallenging as high school musical is so popular and gratefully received by fearful parents.

gone are the days when kids looked up to rebels – these days they actually swallow the moralistic, gap-sweatered cheese the establishment tried so hard to push in the 50s, and again in the 70s. i am talking about the kids who aren’t out shooting their classmates and working on their next asbo, obviously.

don’t call them throwback to the kids from fame – those kids had more grit. even the partridge family look hardcore compared to drippy gabriella and troy.

as in high school musical, my generation, the 90s high school crowd, were infinitely more stylish than the 80s crowd we looked up to, and no less bitchy. but the similarities with gabriella and co end there. the class of the 90s had designer polish by day but by night they lived the 90s dream – drugs, clubs and alcohol. yes, even yanks got pissed in 90s teen movies.

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never been kissed

madonna – like a prayer, ozomatli – cumbia de los muertos

the original version of the madonna classic is far superior and well used in this movie. the reggae club scene shows how underage partying has merged into the adult scene and lost its edge. gone are the days of smoky clubs and out of control house parties – the 90s girls have endless wardrobes and no need to work in record stores or gas stations to fund their social lives.

10 things i hate about you

brick – dazz,  kci and jojo – all my life

old skool funk and 80s soul ruled this soundtrack, and made such a refreshing contrast to the usual dreary US teen angst rock so prevalent in these movies, to the bemusement of the UK where complaint rock is so not popular. some indie warbling did slip past but the main character was resolutely alternative so this was to be expected…

american pie

etta james – at last, paul simon – mrs robinson

well this soundtrack was a bit of a mishmash of genres and these were probably the least offensive. again, the US preoccupation with MOR rock shines through most of the other tracks.

can’t hardly wait

kp and envyi – swing my way, tone loc – funky cold medina

not so great movie, much better soundtrack. miaow – but, does anyone really think jennifer love hewitt is attractive enough to play an obsessive love interest? i’m not buying it personally, can’t see the fuss. but then i’m not supposed to as i’m a girl.

she’s all that

rick james – give it to me baby, goldie – believe

by the late 90s, high school mean girls are apparently dating reality tv z-listers. never in the breakfast club. throw in some superfluous cameos by lil kim and usher within the lead characters’ army of skanks and apparently you have a movie. again – NEVER IN THE BREAKFAST CLUB.

clueless

coolio – rollin’ with my homies, no doubt – just a girl

generation defining movie that started the high school movie ball rolling again. alicia silverstone broke the mould as the teen queen with a heart. 12 years later, people are still saying ‘whatever’ and ‘as if’. much like ‘valley girl’ before it, clueless made er, being clueless, cool again.

 

x factor 2007:back to the day job December 1, 2007

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 now, i love the x factor but this year it’s going downhill. finding someone as talented as leona lewis was always going to be a problem but something is seriously wrong here. i can barely watch what’s going to happen.

simon is staking his claim on an unlikely spice girls reunion induced girlband fever and the high school musical cashcow rather than credibility this year. louis is doing that odd rocking backwards and forwards thing again which makes him look like an outpatient on bingo leave. sharon’s frustration at the vote fixing is bubbling over for anyone to see. dannii is clearly trying to rise above the unspoken criticism that she’s in no position to judge anyone’s singing ability.

they tried to turn this series into american idol – so much so, hell, why not call it a season. the four judges sit there, knowing that brian friedman, the allegedly straight choreographer has screwed the acts up so entirely with his ludicrous performance direction that they can’t concentrate. but they can’t say anything, see, cos he’s playing along with this whole charade that he decided to step down from the judge’s panel himself. if they place the decline of this year’s x factor squarely at his feet, as well they might, he’ll sing like a canary. a really camp one.

most of these acts have already gone but i hope and pray for a wildcard week. forget lady shiverz and the fact that alisha was given bum songs apart from ‘valerie’. forget that rhydian is essentially a novelty act. forget that hope are sorely needed to relieve those queues back in primark. forget the fact that niki appears to have gone a bit doolally. forget the fact that simon is running out of non-incestuous songs for same difference. we need to start over.

in reality, i don’t really care about any of the acts who are left but i suppose i would prefer niki to win, of anyone. and this is what they should sing:

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alisha should sing…tracy chapman – fast car

kimberley should sing…tina arena – show me heaven

emily should sing…amerie – crush

futureproof should sing…after 7 – nights like this

hope should sing…mary jane girls – in my house

same difference should sing…rihanna and chris brown – umbrella

beverley should sing…gladys knight – if i were your woman

niki should sing…wendy moten – come in out of the rain

old faceless bloke who thinks he’s james blunt…hall and oates – rich girl

leon should sing…stevie wonder – knocks me off my feet

rhydian should sing…barry manilow – weekend in new england

young faceless bloke who think’s he’s james blunt…savage garden – to the moon and back

 

soul power couples: the classics October 23, 2007

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duets don’t always work. i think simon cowell is about to find this out to his detriment – ‘same difference’ the icky brother and sister act on this year’s x factor are not going to resonate with a nation that just finds these things a bit, well…creepy.  what was that simon? you think they’ll capture the ‘high school musical’ market? make that ‘flowers in the attic’.

not as creepy as ‘two to go’ though, from x factor 2004. i haven’t got over that yet. psychopathic nursing home worker tries to carve career from exploitation of blind gareth gates-alike brother. ewwww.

if you bring together two equally talented, non-related singers however, the results can be spectacular. witness.

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bill medley and jennifer warnes – the time of my life

dirty dancing, like grease before it, will outlive us all. the soundtrack, and this song in particular, made the film the success it was. and made enough cash to get jennifer grey that ill-advised nose job…hope that ‘friends’ cameo paid well.

carla thomas and otis redding – tramp

much sampled classic – many female singers in the 60s paled in comparison to the commerical power of the supremes and undeniable talent of aretha. and otis is just otis and he died too young.

cherrelle and alexander o’neal – never knew love like this

whitney’s partner-in-crack cherrelle was once a respectable soul singer albeit only really famous for her collaborations with alex. who is slightly ‘eccentric’ himself as i recall from his bizarre participation in ‘just the two of us’ in which he duetted with a dumpy newsreader for the entertainment of the british public. someone really needs to stop the bbc making musical reality shows.

diana ross and lionel richie – endless love

i never got the whole diana ross thing. she is not a great singer. that dreamgirls storyline must have hit her where it hurts. i always wanted to see this film based on the song though.

janet jackson and luther vandross – best things in life are free

i may have forgotten the plot of the film ‘mo money’ to which this was the lead soundtrack, but i can remember this being played on a loop in the summer of 1992 at a very out of control house party.

judy clay and william bell – private number

another 60s duo who found themselves overshadowed. these two were on stax, not motown. which was way cooler.

mary j blige and kci hailey – i don’t want to do anything

mary’s problems didn’t start with her relationship with kci, but they did seem to begin to resolve themselves once she extricated herself. as ever, trying times can equal good music. people who say they wish mary would get messed up again so she can produce better music are wrong though.

roberta flack and donny hathaway – the closer i get to you

a whole album to choose from but the simplicity of this song is what makes it so special. that and donny hathaway, who could sing the bus timetable and stop me being pissed off that there’s only a bus ‘every 15-19 minutes’.

sheena easton and prince – u got the look

prince clearly saw a niche for scottish reality tv stars. especially those shorter than him – he doesn’t collaborate with just anyone. oh wait, he sort of does. carmen electra anyone?

the sos band and alexander o’neal – the finest

not sure how this came about? an early bootleg? i don’t remember him being on the original. he probably doesn’t either…cough…is he still wandering up and down kilburn high road looking confused?

syreeta and billy preston – with you i’m born again

this song is one of my earliest memories. it has that classic late 70s combination of plaintive harmonies,  and smooth vocals.

tammi terrell and marvin gaye – you’re all i need to get by

marvin and tammi were a much better match talentwise than marvin and insipid diana ross.