dirty martini

old music for new people

true school July 19, 2008

you went to junior school in the 80s if:

  • you had a jelly bag to match your jelly shoes – basically a bag full of holes. practical, no?
  • you wore scrunchies without irony
  • every time grease was on tv it restarted a major craze…
  • …until dirty dancing
  • you wore furry earmuffs for fashion reasons, not to please your mum
  • you spent your cash on smash hits stickers, not alcopops
  • you wanted to go to degrassi junior high, but didn’t understand the us school system
  • your parents thought madonna was a bad influence, and back then she actually was
  • you tried to get your mum to buy your clothes from chelsea girl, snob and tammy girl
  • you didn’t need to do retro, you did 80s

download here

air – high school lover

average white band – schoolboy crush

dazz band – straight out of school

funn – school daze

john david lewis – high school lady

maelstrom and napz – soul school

musical youth – schoolgirl

prince and 94 east – you can be my teacher

raydio – goin’ through school and love

rosie gaines – skool ology

sister nancy – gwan a school

sylvers – high school dance

 

teenage love affair July 10, 2008

before t’internet, there were magazines. ok there still are magazines but i now buy two per month – heat and glamour – whereas back in the day i used to get about ten.

just seventeen was good for horoscopes and those little free books that taught you to be a total stalker, in a completely non-harmless way of course…’close your eyes and think of a question. stick a pencil down anywhere on the page. find the symbol you land on and the answer will be revealed….’he thinks you’re too good for him’. well, durrrr.

more! was of interest primarily for the problem pages, which went slightly beyond that of the other titles. there was no ‘shoud i kiss him or not?’ boys at school would pore over these pages in great detail, before checking position of the fortnight. ‘oh yeah…done that already.’ ‘who with?’ ‘you don’t know her…i met her on holiday…’

mizz dealt in hardcore compatibility charts. so if you were an aries and you liked a pisces you were basically screwed. question: did anyone actually look a compatibility chart, see that their intended target was suitable and then march up to them at school the next day? no. it made no difference except if he turned you down…’we weren’t compatible anyway, he’s a fucking leo, i can’t be doing with it…’

minx ruled. it dared to take the piss out of gormless celebs like ‘louise out of eternal’ and the spice girls, much to the anger of their PRs, as I remember. i have no idea why it disappeared so suddenly, everyone i knew loved it.

download here

alicia keys – teenage love affair

amazulu – too good to be forgotten

aaliyah – age ain’t nothin’ but a number

beyonce – my first time

chairmen of the board – since there were pigtails

cool notes – you’re never too young

erykah badu – back in the day

hot chocolate – it started with a kiss

ryan leslie – used to be

shanice – i love your smile

sister sledge – frankie

slick rick – teenage love

 

show me the money April 18, 2008

this post is self explanatory but i’ll say one thing. those gold diggers are not feeling the credit crunch in the same way as the rest of us. i’m not saying it’s right…

top 5 gold diggers

1. heather mills

didn’t fab-macca-thumbs-aloft blaze a hot publicity trail during the divorce trial? two weeks of beatle songs on american idol, brit appearance…now a liverpool concert.

2. kevin federline

even k-fed was well out of that family, who made even shar jackson look classy by comparison.

3. tameka foster

can you say ‘marriage of convenience’? never been more convinced that usher is gay. this week chilli revealed she still loves him…hmmm…

4. most WAGs

no news there then.

5. meg matthews

surely even monobrow could have done better at the height of oasis’ fame?

 download here

amerie – money maker

big bub – material girl

blu cantrell – hit em up style

cashflow – spending money

destiny’s child – bills bills bills

gwen guthrie – ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent

janice christie – my love is money

junior mafia – get money

kanye west – gold digger

ol’ dirty bastard and kelis – got your money

shades – tell me

tlc- no scrubs

 

everybody loves chris February 9, 2008

chris.jpg 

i love this show. it does for people today what the wonder years did for us in the early 90s.

ten things i miss from the 80s that kids don’t do or have now:

  1. rotary dial phones
  2. smash hits
  3. vinyl records
  4. walking to school
  5. sugar puff stickers
  6. smelly erasers
  7. grange hill
  8. freedom
  9. bags of sweets from jars
  10. rollerskates

download here

al b sure – night and day

billy ocean – caribbean queen

cameo – candy

kurtis blow – if i ruled the world

lisa lisa and cult jam – i wonder if i take you home

ll cool j – my radio

mary jane girls – in my house

newcleus – jam on it

run dmc – it’s like that

teena marie – square biz

whodini – friends

zapp and roger –  i wanna be your man

 

80s boys: softly does it October 13, 2007

steff.jpg 

the 80s were a time of smooth sophistication – or at least, that was the aspiration. it wasn’t supposed to look as effortless as the impossibly slick culture we have today where even boho takes hours to perfect. in the 80s, looking as if you had spent time and money on your style was a badge of honour.

everything was designed to flatter this image and music was no exception – the music was polished and the vocals didin’t interrupt the flow. male pop/soul vocalists were often soft and understated, with an overtone of smugness. which is why i’ve chosen a picture of steff, james spader’s character in pretty in pink. the baddie you hate to love.

all of these bands feature cooing vocals, so much of a rarity these days that anything remotely understated evokes the 80s. it wasn’t particularly manly but the new romantics pretty much put paid to any notions that the 80s would be a macho decade.

download here 

breathe – how can i fall

not breathe’s biggest hit, but since they only had one other…close.

howard jones – like to get to know you well

classic synth pop soul which few did better than howard. good use of a mullet too. howard’s sound was slicker than his look. he looked like a tramp with a vidal sassoon haircut and bleach job.

stephen tin tin duffy – icing on the cake

original member of duran duran and has had more success in production than with his own music.

climie fisher – love changes everything

sweet late 80s boy pop that can still be found on heart fm to this day. they had one other notable song, ‘rise to the occasion’.

curiosity killed the cat – down to earth

smash hits favourite ben volauvent parrot and co were minor challengers to bros and wet wet wet in the late 80s. i used to fancy migi.

wet wet wet – sweet little mystery

cheeky scot marti pellow looked so much better with the caught-in-a-dodgem spiky haircut than his later curtain style look when they caught their financial break with ‘love is all around’.

scritti politti – absolute

i love the sound of green’s voice, its like candyfloss. all of scritti  politti’s music sounds the same across albums spanning the entire decade. i like that in a group.

johnny hates jazz – i don’t want to be a hero

oddly sincere sounding group taking into account the jazz were rich pretty boys. proving rich boys don’t need to go indie to compensate for their roots. all of jhj’s music has that late 80s wine bar sound on lock.

omd – if you leave

i don’t care for much of omd’s music but of all the 80s teen movies, this was the most fitting soundtrack to the obligatory high school dance scene. i think we all wanted andie to get with duckie, but its not so bad for him as he’s ended up in two and a half men with charlie sheen…

brother beyond – how many times

god nathan moore really wasn’t any better a singer than he is an agent. and don’t get me wrong, i loved bb way more than bros. no wonder lisa scott-lee’s career haas gone down the pan…oh wait, no, that’s because she’s shit.

blow monkeys – it doesn’t have to be this way

i’m sure i heard carol mcgiffin say that she slept with monkeys frontman dr robert. maybe if you were a bit older – and i mean of an age when you should be fancying people, not 11 like i was – then he was the 80s version of russell brand. who i don’t get either.

hipsway – the honeythief

don’t know much about this group but they typified the smooth sound of the time.

 

the truth about boy bands: the 80s August 26, 2007

wham.jpg

looking at the picture above, i wonder exactly why we ever thought george michael was straight? i was too young to know the difference, but i did always prefer andrew ridgeley…

80s fans were fiercely loyal to their band. a brosette would never admit liking a song by wet wet wet, or vice versa. this was tantamount to betrayal. i was too young to participate but i liked watching older girls argue about the relative merits of wham and duran duran. the first boy band i liked was a-ha, and morten harket kind of looked like patrick swayze.

14 is the proper age for a boy band fan, i think. i was 13 when nkotb arrived and so jordan knight was my main boyband crush. he was infinitely more interesting than his brother jon who professed a liking for tea and cakes and was going out with tiffany, of the batwing jumpers and shopping mall performances.

the early 80s boy bands were operating alongside the new romantics and so looked, frankly, like big girls. flicked and highlighted hair, pastels, sometimes even makeup. later, the look became more masculine, with ripped jeans, doc martens and leather jackets.

you can also check out their predecessors in my 70s boyband post, or those that followed in the 90s and 00s.

download here

nkotb – valentine girl

four of the new kids enjoyed adoration from screaming teen girls the world over. the other one was danny wood. horse face inexplicably made it into this band despite having neither looks or talent. it was easy to believe danny when he said he didn’t have a girlfriend. at least dane bowers had a voice.

new edition – mr telephone man

the predecessors to nkotb and the first glimpse of bad boy bobby brown, who at the age of 16,in 1985, found himself a father during the height of their success. i don’t remember this being common knowledge when he went solo shortly after. this for me is the best boy band track of the 80s.

johnny hates jazz – shattered dreams

don’t remember much about this group, but the singer had a nice voice and they fitted well with the whole late 80s yuppy soul vibe. filed under 80s cocktail lounge listening.

duran duran – rio

simon le bon and co may actually be the perpetrators of the miami vice style, pastel suit with bright t shirt, rolled up sleeves and loafers combo. between them, the group had so much hair it was ridiculous. john taylor, my favourite, was involved with it girl amanda de cadenet. kind of like tamara beckwith but even more annoying.

wet wet wet – sweet little mystery

scottish blue eyed soul band who did well in the 80s, but really made their cash in the 90s with ‘love is all around’, which was no1 for so long that they had it withdrawn. were they mad? take the cash and run! have since admitted they barely needed to work again thanks to four weddings and a funeral.

musical youth – sixteen

british pop reggae group who would be seen in amusing locations such as the houses of parliament, terrorising stuffy old people. wore baseball caps well. had a certain cachet once it became known that ‘pass the dutchie’ was about smoking weed. ok, so admittedly i still didn’t get it at the time, but i was about six!

bros – chocolate box

south london twins matt and luke and their school friend craig started the ripped jeans and leather craze that defined the end of the 80s. also wore grolsch bottle tops on their shoes, which I had to persuade my dad to get for me despite the fact that he hated grolsch.

wham – credit card baby

probably the most iconic 80s boyband and certainly the campest. hair that defied gravity, hawaiian shirts, shorts, it was all there. battled with frankie goes to hollywood for biggest selling tshirt. in 1984 you could just print ‘choose life’ or ‘frankie says relax’ on a white tshirt and sell millions…

brother beyond – he ain’t no competition

played second fiddle to bros for the most part, but nathan moore had more screaming girls after him as he was fit in a nick kamen kind of way and matt and luke were blond which isn’t every woman’s cup of tea. then nathan shattered the illusion somewhat by becoming the latest in a long line of gullible popstars to get involved with 80s wannabe amanda de cadenet.

spandau ballet – true

the girliest of all the 80s boy bands, and its hilarious to think that martin kemp ended up as bad boy steve owen in eastenders. this song was an end-of-the-school-disco staple along with ‘crazy for you’ and ‘careless whisper’.

a-ha – you are the one

morten, mags and pal caused mass hysteria and filled the boyband shaped void left when wham split and duran duran started getting married and having kids. being from norway their music has a slightly melancholy feel to it, even their uptempo tunes like this one.

curiosity killed the cat – misfit

notable at the time for the lead singer having an odd name – ben voppliere-pierriot – and a slightly girly penchant for berets. smash hits, reliably, gave him a more memorable name of ben volauvent-pierrot-parrot-thingy not everyone will remember that they did the original version of ‘ring ring ring’ by de la soul, called ‘name and number’. i can’t remember how it goes now.

 

90s girl bands – premier league May 12, 2007

though the pop decade would be dominated by boy bands such as nkotb, take that and the backstreet boys until girl power hit, on the r&b scene, girl bands were always big business in the 90s.

after the spice girls, many tried to emulate their cartoony characteristics to achieve crossover success, but the truly talented chose credibility over advertising deals.

the integration of hip hop beats into r&b tracks was first heard on en vogue’s hold on in 1990 and the influence of the grittier hip hop scene saw some bands adopt a more casual or comedy image, notably tlc and jade, mostly via their clothing, to identify themselves with the more credible hip hop scene.

by 1995, it became more acceptable for girls to be girls and a more glamorous side emerged, eventually becoming the perfect complement to bad boy’s patented late 90s bling scene. despite this, many of the girls were tied to bad record deals and failed to recoup much of the reward for their success.

but this is the a list. you can check out the b list and the one-hit wonders too. imagine how much cash these girls didn’t make. and how much fame these z listers didn’t get.


these girls were on top of their game in the 90sdownload here
en vogue – lies
in 1990, en vogue sounded like nothing else. slickly manufactured 80s soul had given way to new jack swing but some were finding the music over-produced. enter four girls, looking like the supremes, but singing over the kind of beats associated with bands like nwa and public enemy. in a rare faux pas, smash hits labelled en vogue one hit wonders in their round up 1990 – quote “…their second single currently ‘lies’ (arf) in the discount bin at woolies…” I think the only reason I remember this is that it was actually quite funny. but wrong.


tlc – ain’t too proud to beg
colourful, cute and individual, tlc burst onto the scene in 1992. condoms flying. their first album ‘oooh on the tlc tip’ was slightly overshadowed by their loud image, but by the time ‘crazysexycool‘ was released in late 1994, the girls were all grown up. if it were possible to wear out a cd i would now be on my 25th copy. though chilli and t-boz tried to carry on without left eye, it was visibly painful and they’re now working on solo projects.

destiny’s child – show me the way
hands up who preferred destiny’s child back in the day? beyonce‘s voice is natural and the four girls harmonise perfectly. this track is from their debut, at age 15, and letoya is rumoured to be singing on the first verse. it does sound like her. maybe one day all six members will reunite, dreamgirls style….or not.


swvi’m so into you
inspiration of many of today’s current female r&b singers and the crown queens of new jill swing. swv were young, but looked older due to some hard times growing up. famously sampled wacko on ‘right here’ and went on to release five singles from their successful first album. band member lelee has recently alleged that they left their contract penniless in 1998, mirroring tlc‘s experience with laface.


jade – i want cha baby
game attempts to look sexy in lumberjack shirts five sizes too big paid off for jade, whose worldwide hit ‘don’t walk away’ put them up there with swv for a time. for years, the intro to that song featured on many an answerphone. after a second successful album, like swv and tlc, jade suffered from mismanagement and split in 1994 with little financial return.


702 – steelo
in the mid 90s, 702 tried to fill the gap left by financially ruined girl groups before them. against the odds, and with scant vocal ability, they have survived well into the 00s, partly due to the clout of longtime compadre missy elliott. still, they are responsible for some nice tracks.




eternal – stay
when they arrived, eternal were revered in the uk as a band the american record buying public would lap up. their success, whilst sizable, remained slightly more local so it was rumoured that single white member louise was offloaded to improve their chances in the us r&b market. unlikely, but in any case it turned out in her favour and she’s the only member still getting work. unless you count kelle bryan’s appearance on celebrity love island. which is precisely the opposite of being in demand.


xscape – understanding
underrated girl group who favoured mid and slow tempo jams that allowed their vocals to shine. another young group, the then mid-teens sang at jermaine dupri’s birthday party in 1991 and got a contract for their efforts. split in 1998 but now regrouped.


total – no one else
total were a bad boy project, originally singing choruses on hip hop joints for artists such as biggie smalls and ll cool j. had they stuck with this strategy, they could have disguised the fact that neither kima keisha or pam can actually sing. their debut album was painful listening and i dread to think what the untouched demo sounded like. the beats of course, were bad boy’s, and wasted on them.

brownstone – if you love me
this group managed to negotiate the obvious pitfalls of being signed to wacko‘s label and became reasonably successful with this track in 1995. after replacing a member who left due to bronchitis (read: girlfght) they failed to recover.