dirty martini

old music for new people

the hit factory October 25, 2008

if you are too young to remember the late 80s, or young enough not to question, you might be under the illusion that stock, aitken and waterman were cool. they were never cool.

almost no one over the age of 13 would have admitted to liking any of their music, apart from the artists who glossed over their involvement – princess, i do mean you.

all of saw’s artists had a story. kylie and jason were aussie soap stars who denied being an item, sonia was from liverpool and had starred in bbc comedy ‘bread’, rick astley had been a teaboy…etc

some of the music, surprisingly, stands up 20 years on. the reynolds girls, the twins and stefan dennis did not make this list. funny that.

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bananarama – venus

big fun – can’t shake the feeling

brother beyond – the harder i try

dead or alive – you spin me round

jason donovan – nothing can divide us

kylie minogue – je ne sais pas pourquoi

lonnie gordon – happenin’ all over again

mel and kim – flm

pepsi and shirlie – goodbye stranger

princess – say i’m your no1

rick astley – whenever you need somebody

sonia – you’ll never stop me loving you

 

the other side August 3, 2008

 

you know all those bonus tracks that surface once an album is released? we used to get them as b-sides. occasionally an instrumental would be bunged on there, or a remix, but in the 80s, you were pretty much guaranteed at least an album track if not something which didn’t make the cut.

for kids with only a few 7 inches to entertain them throughout the summer, this could mean that you were as familiar with an artist’s rarities as you were their hits.

some b-sides i miss:

karyn white – language of love (superwoman)

sister sledge – hold out poppy (frankie)

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five star – love gamesb-side to rsvp

janet jackson – he doesn’t know i’m aliveb-side to what have you done for me lately

madonna – pretenderb-side to material girl

mai tai – rules of love – b-side to body and soul

mel and kim – systemb-side to showing out

michael jackson – can’t get outta the rainb-side to billie jean

new edition – jealous girlb-side to popcorn love

nkotb – valentine girl – b-side to step by step

pepsi and shirlie – dreamingb-side to heartache

prince – 17 daysb-side to when doves cry

whitney houston – moment of truthb-side to i wanna dance with somebody

wham – where did your heart gob-side to edge of heaven

 

camp as a row of tents June 14, 2008

we didn’t go on many holidays when i was a child, as my dad was a miserable git. we did go to the same resort in majorca several times and also to butlins, both bognor and minehead.

although the idea of staying in a holiday camp now seems faintly ridiculous and very restrictive, at the age of ten, it means you can roam unhindered. i’m sure it woldn’t be safe enough now but back in the 80s we had a different type of freedom and it meant a lot to escape your mum’s constant sunscreen application and flicking bits of fluff off you at every opportunity.

so, you went on holiday with your parents, found some friends near your age on the first day and off you went.

around the times we visited, the camps were being updated, which i can see now, lost the point. they were cheesy, retro and stuck in the 60s, which is why people wanted to go. still, i loved the sunsplash pools with flume rides and wave machines, which have no doubt been replaced by something else now. but, the old swimming pools with the windows were far more interesting.

these holidays were the only times i can remember me and my mum dancing out together in public. we danced a lot at home, but whenever I hear these tunes from the summer of 86 I think of her dancing happily.

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billy ocean – when the going gets tough

did anyone else get the 80s health education video that had this playing throughout? I can’t for the life of me remember what it was about…

club nouveau – lean on me

well i had no idea that the al green original existed when this came out…

five star – find the time

i remember being bought this on the way home from our butlins holiday, to cheer me up. yes, i was gutted to leave!

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

tell it like it is, girl. broke men suck. gwen (rip) was at least ten years ahead of beyonce and co on this.

janet jackson – when i think of you

this was my favourite ‘control’ track back in the day. loved the remixes a decade later as well.

jermaine stewart – we don’t have to take our clothes off

we sang this at brownies, much to the disapproval of brown owl, who clearly couldn’t fathom why ten year olds were singing about being naked and drinking cherry wine.

madonna – true blue

i actually recognised actress debi mazar from this video, when she was on ugly betty. i hated madonna’s short, bleached hair though.

mel and kim – showing out

its sad that several of the artists on this list have passed away, like mel. i can imagine mel and kim as a duo would have gone on to become popular entertainers, possibly like a female ant and dec.

midnight star – midas touch

jheri soul troupe. yes, troupe. there were nine members.

steve winwood – higher love

i always think of that bette midler film, big business, as well, when i hear this.

taffy – i love my radio

more dj adulation. not a new phenomenon.

wham – edge of heaven

the last wham song ever recorded. millions of tears were cried over george and expert tambourine player andy.

 

i love 1984: electric dreams April 14, 2008

computers ruled 1984. even i had one. my parents bought me an acorn electron for educational purposes and i spent the next four years playing bbc versions of arcade games. pac-man became ‘snapper’, donkey kong was ‘boxer’ and frogger was ‘hopper’.

my personal favourites were chuckie egg and burgertime. you couldn’t get burgertime for the acorn electron so i had to play it in arcades. chuckie egg was available for the electron but it didn’t work. you’d sit through about five minutes of alphanumeric screeching and then, no chuckie, no egg.

then there were the fabulously basic text adventure games. ‘sphinx adventure’. literally –

you cross the bridge. there’s a carrot.

>eat carrot.

you can see in the dark!

yes, really. and if you were a little brat like me…

you cross the bridge. there’s a carrot.

>shit

what is ‘shit’?

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apollonia 6 – blue limousine

autumn – computer touch

billy ocean – syncopation

confection – put me on your playlist

duran duran – the reflex

klymaxx – video kid

midnight star – body snatchers

new edition – cool it now

phil oakey – together in electric dreams

pointer sisters – automatic

shannon – sweet somebody

wham – credit card baby

 

i’m not planning on going solo… February 11, 2008

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liar!

in every successful group there is a beyonce. either the best vocalist or the best manipulator, or daddy’s little girl. but divas in training beware: for every beyonce, there is a nicole scherzinger.

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beyonce – suga mama

it’s a good job bee actually did have talent cos daddy would have pushed her to the front no matter what. its funny but i actually prefer her voice in the early dc days, and i definitely prefer dc4 harmonies.

bobby brown – i really love you girl

not so much a solo choice rather than being kicked out of new edition. still, he was so young it was a bit like when i was kicked out of the brownies, albeit on a, cough, more global scale. so what? except i was shown the red card for locking brown owl in a cupboard, not boozing and having an illegitimate child…

coko – sunshine

well, who can blame coko if the rumours of swv’s financial ruin were true. it’s a shame it didn’t work out…i think the swv harmonies played a bigger role than she thought.

diana ross – upside down

the original diva, hence ‘diana ross and the supremes’. funny how the weakest singer in a group can overcome that obstacle, to become the biggest star. all it took was a large amount of deluded self-belief and some willing lackeys.

george michael – too funky

the least likely to be accused of letting his ego push aside more talented group members – it was an accepted fact that andrew ridgeley did little more than shake a tambourine and look cute in hawaiian gear.

justin timberlake – last night

anyone who says they saw the star potential of curly headed justin in his n*sync days has selective memory. i was surprised such an ugly group got a deal and didn’t think any had longevity. imagine explaining britney’s dazzling influence to an alien in 2008 – ‘…and britney was this clean cut, wholesome, family loving christian whose star power catapulted him to solo fame…’

lionel richie – serves you right

love lionel richtea. i might have to do a whole post on him just so i can put up that picture. oh screw it, if anyone is wondering why at the top of this post there is a picture of lionel richie with a biscuit (cookie) in place of his ‘fro…this is why.

morris day – love addition

morris day really wanted to be prince. he did ok. he never really left the time.

raphael saadiq – get involved

the transition from tony toni tone was fairly seamless – i’m not always 100% which tracks belong to who. same sound, same voice…could have just kept the other on the payroll? that’s rarely the point though is it…

ray parker jr – a woman needs love

ray already had a touch of the dianas, changing the name of his group, already ‘raydio’, to ‘ray parker jr and raydio’. so no one should have been surprised when he became a fully fledged solo artist. i hope there was someone else called ray left in that group he named after himself…

t-boz – touch myself

tlc’s was a well documented financial struggle, which allegedly saw laface CEO pebbles tie the girls into a fruitless contract. t-boz seized an opportunity to capitalise on crazysexycool but the point was, none of tlc were vocally outstanding, but together they provided contrast – the gravelly voiced t-boz, angelic chilli and cute rapper left eye. individually…nothing special.

terry ellis – what did i do to you

if you blinked in 1995, you could have missed this solo foray from ms ellis. en vogue were back together faster than roadrunner once it became clear that their group appeal far ouweighed their solo potential. they attempted to drop troublemaker dawn robinson over the years, with varying degrees of success.

 

you can’t escape christmas December 17, 2007

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 i always give in to christmas songs for the last week or so…

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band aid – do they know its christmas

the original is still the best even if supremely irritating bono is in it spreading his smugness instead of charity spirit. bananarama look pissed off as usual, in the video. a riot of mullets, 80s plaid and britishness. although i saw the 1989 version today and thought, what on earth happened to matt goss? he actually could sing.

donny hathaway – this christmas

i love donny hathaway’s voice. i love this song for being instantly recognisable yet slightly under the radar – if it hadn’t been covered by ashanti, usher, chris brown, destiny’s child, joe, slaguilera and countless others.

elton john – step into christmas

part of the all-conquering 70s christmas lineup that gets rolled out every year. reminds me of my first ever saturday job circa 1991.

mariah carey – all i want for christmas

has become a christmas classic and possibly the last great christmas song that was recorded. roxanne cooper from pop idol 3 did a decent cover version. mariah is trying to be too cute in her santa outfit though.

luther vandross – please come home for christmas

soulful remake of the eagles original, as covered by bon jovi.

nkotb – i’ll be missing you come christmas

i loved this. i was 14 and in love with jordan knight and thought i would be forever. i can barely remember the rest of the nkotb christmas album apart from a woeful cover of little drummer boy by danny ‘horseface’ wood.

paul mccartney – wonderful christmastime

very hazy memories of this from my childhood. can’t believe i’m featuring a fab macca thumbs aloft track on my blog. what next – the frog chrous?

slade – merry christmas everybody

obvious, but you can’t leave it off the playlist.

stevie wonder – what christmas means to me

overlooked classic.

tlc – sleigh ride

fun track from their ‘oooh on the tlc tip’ era. not a dayglo condom in sight though.

wham – last christmas

possibly the best christmas song ever. love watching the video and working out whether it was obvious that george was gay. some scary fair isle sweaters are present but everyone dressed like that in 1984.

wizzard – i wish it could be christmas everyday

i actually prefer this to slade. i know a lot of people think that this is by slade. most of the 70s glam rock bands do look and sound exactly the same…

 

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?