Vocab from 80s Songs!
Aug24

Vocab from 80s Songs!

With the school-year fast approaching, perhaps we should use this time to reflect on the educational value of 80s pop songs. Consider: Men at Work taught us about Australian cuisine (the Vegemite sandwich of “Down Under”); Styx taught us Japanese pleasantries (“Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto”); and Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” taught us… well, everything. Moreover, the lyrics to 80s songs provided us with some truly S.A.T.-worthy vocabulary words. For example, I think I speak for an entire generation when I say that I first learned the word “moot” from Rick Springfield’s 1981 hit, “Jessie’s Girl.” (Curious aside about that: it took me nearly three decades to realize that everyone– me, you, Rick Springfield, Jesse Jackson in a hilarious 1984 Saturday Night Live skit– uses the word “moot” incorrectly. Sort of.  See, in “Jessie’s Girl,” when Springfield says, “I want to tell her that I love her, but the point is probably moot,” he’s using the word to mean “irrelevant, not worth discussing.” This, of course, is the standard meaning of the word… AND YET, the original definition of “moot” meant exactly the opposite: in fact, the word once referred to a point that should be debated and discussed.  So “moot” is a contranym– a word with two meanings that contradict each other. But again, pretty much everyone now uses the “not worth discussing” definition, and so don’t blame Professor Springfield for mis-informing a whole generation.) Anyway… to get everyone in the Back to School mode (and no, I am not referring to the 1986 Rodney Dangerfield film), below is a vocabulary quiz that contains twenty words taken from 80s pop songs. I’m not saying that these are necessarily the most complicated words, only ones that I am pretty sure I first heard while listening to the radio during the 1980s. Vocab Quiz from 80s Song Lyrics Time limit: 0 Quiz-summary 0 of 20 questions completed Questions: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Information For each question, I will give a word, its definition, and a sample lyric.  You will then select the song that contains that word/ lyric, from the four song titles I have provided.  (Note: for the most part, these are English language words, which means that, unfortunately, “Sussudio” and “mama-say mama-sa mama-ko-sa” will not appear on this quiz.) You have already completed the quiz before. Hence you can not start it again. Quiz is loading... You must sign in or sign up to start the quiz. You have to finish following quiz, to start this quiz: Results 0 of...

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We Got the Beat – Teen Beat and Tiger Beat Magazines
Aug17

We Got the Beat – Teen Beat and Tiger Beat Magazines

I’ve always been big on magazines. I love lip gloss magazines like Glamour and Cosmo, magazines with photos of beautiful food I will never make or eat like Gourmet and Food & Wine, and magazines that keep me up to date on all the important news of the day like US Weekly or In Touch (don’t judge: they pass the time nicely while getting my hair done.) As a teenager, I loved my Sassy and Seventeen magazines, of course. But as a pre-teen in the 80s, these were my periodicals of choice: Teen Beat and Tiger Beat had everything a 12-16 year old girl could ask for: fascinating, in-depth articles about rock stars, television stars, and movie stars. Wait; who am I kidding? Tiger Beat and Teen Beat had glorious pictures. And posters. And centerfolds like this. And this. And what about this?! Looking back now, I wonder if my parents knew what exactly was going on in the pages of these teen-themed mags? Because . . . wow, right? If you needed information on what foxy Michael J. Fox was up to, or wanted some exclusive pics of Ralph Macchio on set, or perhaps needed to know what a day in the life of THE COREYS was like, then you absolutely needed these magazines!!! Tiger Beat and Teen Beat have been around forever, published since the mid-60s reporting important news on teen fashions, teen gossip and the hottest teen heartthrobs. I recall during the late 70s having a nice Eric Estrada poster as his character Ponch from the television show CHiPs on my bedroom wall alongside Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett, courtesy of Teen/Tiger Beat. Tiger Beat is still around today! Reporting on One Direction, Taylor Swift and naturally, The Biebs. I gotta wonder if today’s teen stars are as shirtless within the pages of the magazine today. Do you think? I mean seriously, can you fathom that guy from the Twilight movies or one of those Jonas Brothers looking as good as this? I for one cannot. So, thank you 80s teen magazines once again for the fascinating articles, the relevant information, and the abundance of David Lee Roth. Yeah . . . mostly thanks for the David Lee...

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Musical What-Ifs, Back to the Future Style
Jul28

Musical What-Ifs, Back to the Future Style

Before there was the Butterfly Effect, there was the McFly Effect. The Back to the Future trilogy is essentially a dissertation on chaos theory, on the ways that tinkering with the past can affect the future. Plow into one of Mr. Peabody’s trees in 1955? The Twin Pines Mall becomes the Lone Pine Mall in 1985. Interfere with your parents initial meeting? You could be erased from existence. Now, let’s get meta for a moment and consider the making of the movies themselves. For example, everyone knows that Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly, but after five weeks of filming, the powers-at-be replaced him with Michael J. Fox. (Poor, poor Eric Stoltz . . .) And one of the consequences of this change is that they also had to re-cast Marty’s girlfriend: Melora Hardin was all set to go as Jennifer Parker, but she got replaced when she was deemed too tall for Michael J. Fox. But here’s the thing: what if they don’t bring in Michael J. Fox, and they stick with Eric Stoltz? Does that mean they also keep Melora Hardin? If so, we’d have a Back to the Future that ends with the heroin dealer from Pulp Fiction and Jan Levinson from The Office zooming off into 2015. And here’s another “what if?” related to the Jennifer Parker character: actress Claudia Wells played Jennifer in the first BttF film but ended up bowing out of the two sequels in order to take care of her mother, who had been diagnosed with cancer; Wells was replaced with Elizabeth Shue. What if Wells doesn’t leave the franchise? Does she end up having Elisabeth Shue’s career? Does Claudia Wells get an Academy Award nomination for Leaving Las Vegas? As you mull over those conundrums, here are three musical “What if–?” scenarios, all having to do the original Back to the Future (which debuted in the summer of 1985, thirty years ago): What if . . . things worked out differently between Huey Lewis and Ghostbusters? A 2004 Premiere Magazine article, commemorating the 20th anniversary of Ghostbusters, offers up the news about Huey Lewis: the producers of Ghostbusters originally went to Huey to record a song, but for whatever reason, he declined. But director Ivan Reitman was a big Huey fan, so he used “I Want a New Drug” as a “temp track” for certain scenes. (Note: a “temp track” is essentially an audio rough draft, something directors use to give music composer a sense of what they’re looking for.) And so, when the producers hired Ray Parker Jr., they showed him scenes that still featured “New Drug”...

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K-tel Records
Jul24

K-tel Records

Ask me what some of my favorite albums are and you’ll get a short list of ones that I would make it to the desert island with me – Tattoo You by The Rolling Stones, Beauty and the Beat by The Go-Go’s, Kings of the Wild Frontier by Adam and the Ants. I know these records up and down, and I never get tired of them. But ask me about important records, ones that take me back to a time and a place, ones where when I see the cover of them a smile comes across my face . . . that’s another story. Many of those records looked something like this. Or this. And this for the lighter, easy-listening moments in your life. And especially this. I loved my K-tel record collection. K-tel records were the original “Now, That’s What I Call Music” compilation albums of the greatest (and maybe not so greatest) hits of the time, the company has been cranking out records since the 1960s. Besides having amazing hit singles, K-tel also had amazing television commercials. The joy of these albums was the insane variety of music that was on each and every one of them. Hard rock, soft rock, pop hits, and instrumentals; sometimes they even snuck a country song on there. These records were sold at record stores as well as drug stores; I have vivid memories of walking up to Woolworth’s with my grandmother and buying one. One year I purchased this: Talk about an important album . . . oh my God. The Who, The Police, and The Go-Go’s? And I’d never heard Devo’s cover of Working in a Coal Mine. Throw in Rapture by Blondie and a little Hall and Oates, and you’ve got vinyl magic. And variety! Where else could The Commodores hang out with The Moody Blues? This record was so important to me that I couldn’t get the cover out of my head. I even considered getting the guy holding the two lightning bolts as a tattoo (don’t worry, I didn’t) or the music out of my head . . . even as an adult. I have often wished hard that I hadn’t purged it from my collection. So I got a new copy of it. And now it lives in a place of honor. It’s music and art, all in one, hanging in our guest bedroom. Thanks K-tel records, for the greatest hits soundtrack of my...

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Obscur-Eighties, Vol. 1
Jun29

Obscur-Eighties, Vol. 1

It’s simple math. A decade is made up of 520 weeks, right? And for every one of those weeks, Billboard puts out a “Hot 100” list, detailing the top one hundred songs of those seven days. Now, granted, a hundred new songs don’t appear every week. (Just last year, Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” for example, ended a record-breaking eighty-seven weeks on the Hot 100.) Still, if I can get technical here, a LOT of songs cycle through those “Hot 100” lists over the course of those 520 weeks. So, riddle me this: with a decade’s-worth of hit songs stockpiled up, why do radio stations only play the same songs from the 1980s over and over? Think about it: even now, in 2015, John Q. Radio-Listener can still hear songs like Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” or John Mellencamp’s “Cherry Bomb” or Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” on a regular basis. And yet, he will never, ever hear, say, Slade’s 1984 song, “Run Runaway.” Now, this isn’t to say those other songs aren’t deserving of their extended musical shelf-lives. But are any more deserving than “Run Runaway,” a song that is fun and catchy and just begging to have a line dance associated with it? (In fact, someone get on that, stat!) I’m going to estimate that we only hear 50 to 75 songs, tops, from the 1980s on the radio nowadays — and that number includes songs that are played as part of “nostalgia” shows, such as “The 80s at 8” or “Way-Back Weekend.” With that in mind . . . I present this celebration of the “Obscur-Eighties,” songs from the 1980s that we don’t hear any more . . . but most definitely should. I’m not talking gimmicky songs, like “Curly Shuffle” or “Pac-Man Fever.” And I’m not necessarily talking about one-hit wonders. (For example, “Our House” by Madness is a song that I feel does re-surface with curious regularity.) I’m talking about halfway-decent songs to all-the-way-decent songs that, for some reason (or, more likely, for no reason at all), have been lost to the sands of time. And speaking of sands, we’ll start with a song that’s straight from the shorelines of 1985 . . . “Summertime Girls,” Y & T (1985) It’s sadly ironic the band’s original name was “Yesterday & Today,” since we hear nothing from them today, and we really didn’t hear much of them yesterday. In fact, this is their biggest hit, and it only reached #55 on the Billboard chart. And that’s a shame, because “Summertime Girls” is a rockin’ anthem that DJs should be required to play every June 21st,...

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80s Walk-up Songs in Major League Baseball
May26

80s Walk-up Songs in Major League Baseball

Like a tarpless field after a sudden May shower, Major League Baseball is awash in statistics. From Earned Run Average to Runs Batted In to On-Base Percentage, it seems every aspect of the game can be boiled down to a number. Well, almost every aspect. Indeed, there is one phenomenon that has thus far eluded even the most moneyballin’ statistician: the Eighties Entrance Music Effect (EEME). Simply put, a player’s EEME attempts to demonstrate the link between a player’s 80s walk-up music and his overall performance. Admittedly, this theory needs some fine-tuning. (The name, for example: Maybe I should go with something like “Effect of Reagan-era Accompaniment”? (Oh, wait, “ERA” is already taken . . .) More importantly, I know hard-core statisticians will balk at the piddling levels of data I have to back up this hypothesis. But I swear: the EEME is real! First, a little context: a “walk-up song” is the snippet of music, played over the home stadium’s PA system, that accompanies a batter on his journey to the plate. While hardly a new development, walk-up music has now become a fixture in Major League Baseball; just about every current player has a theme song (available for purchase on each team’s website, courtesy of iTunes). Basically, for fans, walk-up music is as essential to the ballpark experience as peanuts, Crackerjacks, and $11.75 beers. Many current players seem to gravitate toward hip-hop and rap for their walk-up music. For example, according to the site DesignatedHits.com (great name!), songs by Drake were used by twenty different players in 2014. But more than a few past and present players have bopped to the batter’s-box to the immortal strains of 80s tunes. Chase Headley had Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.” David Wright had New Kids on the Block’s “You Got It (The Right Stuff).” Michael Morse had a-ha’s “Take On Me,” Matt Holliday had Madonna’s “Holiday,” Chipper Jones had Ozzy’s “Crazy Train.” And Mark Teixeira has actually used three 80s songs throughout his career (Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock,” and Run-DMC’s “It’s Tricky”). The king of 80s walk-up songs is one that dates all the way back to Mark McGwire: “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns n’ Roses, which has been used by seven different players over the years (including Kerry Wood, former closer for the Cubs and Indians). And a close second is a song that actually has a bit of baseball connection (at least as far as the band’s name is concerned): The Outfield’s “Your Love,” which has accompanied six players over the years. (Incidentally, my research has revealed a total of zero players who...

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80s Songs in Non-80s TV Shows
Apr07

80s Songs in Non-80s TV Shows

Last month, the FOX series Glee ended its six-year run. To coincide with the series finale, I envisioned writing a piece about all the 80s songs that appeared on the show. Examples: Artie getting out of his wheelchair for a dream-sequence “Safety Dance”; Finn the Quarterback singing a slowed-down “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”; and the New Directions performing “Don’t Stop Believin’”— along with just about every other Journey song, ever. (As an aside: a co-worker once pointed out the irony of “Don’t Stop Believin’” being Glee’s signature song, since the show rather aggressively tested the audience’s “suspension of belief”– and not just because characters routinely broke out in song. Remember the episode where Will Schuester, clad in a white tux, literally walked across the school’s swimming pool to propose to Emma Pilsbury?) Anyway, I began dutifully collecting 80s songs from Glee, when I remembered two important points: (1) I stopped watching Glee after Season 3; and (2) So did pretty much everyone else in the world. Then the Glee finale came and went with little fanfare, and the whole point of the article became moot. So I decided to take another approach: What are some other non-80s TV shows (besides Glee) that featured 80s songs? I don’t mean shows that mention an 80s tune in passing or for a joke. I mean a show that used an 80s song in a significant way. So, the Parks and Recreation scene when Tom Haverford (on hold with a company about his defective under-eye cream) sings Alphaville’s “Forever Young” will not make this list, much as I adore it. With those ground rules in mind, here’s my list of six non-80s TV shows that used 80s songs… The Office, “Islands in the Stream” (Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers) Quite a few 80s classics appeared on The Office over the years: Michael included Huey Lewis’s “Heart of Rock and Roll” and Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” on his list of Top Ten Bruce Springsteen songs; Pam sang Jeffrey Osborne’s “On the Wings of Love” (with Dwight accompanying on recorder) at a bird’s funeral; and Kevin was a member of not one but TWO Police cover bands, Scrantonicity AND Scrantonicity II. Personally, my favorite Office/ 80s song moment occurred in Season 2’s “Email Surveillance.” Jim has a party at his house, which Michael crashes. In typical Michael Scott fashion, he awkwardly hijacks the karaoke machine and begs for people to sing with him. Finally, as Pam looks on affectionately, a sympathetic Jim joins Michael in a duet of “Islands in the Stream.” A great early Jim-Pam moment. The Sopranos, “Don’t Stop Believin’” (Journey)...

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30 Facts About Don’t You (Forget About Me)
Mar11

30 Facts About Don’t You (Forget About Me)

Thirty years ago, a Scottish band– relatively unknown in the U.S.–made a request to the world.  And thirty years later, the world is still honoring it. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”– that’s all Simple Minds asked of us in February 1985, when their signature song from the film The Breakfast Club first debuted.  And so far, we haven’t forgotten: the song and the film have been permanently etched into our pop-culture consciousness.  And so, in honor of the song’s thirtieth anniversary, here are thirty facts about the creation and legacy of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”… 30 Facts You Might Not Know “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” the only number one song in the U.S. for Simple Minds, was written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff. Forsey, the music composer for The Breakfast Club, was no stranger to film soundtracks: in 1984, he won an Oscar for co-writing “Flashdance… What a Feeling.” He is also the writer (with Harold Faltermeyer) for Glenn Frey’s “The Heat Is On,” from Beverly HIlls Cop. To get a feeling for what kind of music the film required, Forsey read The Breakfast Club script and watched the actors on the set.  According to several accounts, he was particularly inspired by the scene where Brian, Anthony Michael Hall’s character, asks the others if they’ll still be friends after their stay in detention is over. (Sample dialogue: “I was just wondering, um, what is gonna happen to us on Monday?  When we’re all together again?  I mean I consider you guys my friends, I’m not wrong, am I?” Sample lyric from the song: “Will you recognize me?  Call my name or walk on by?”) According to Susannah Gora, author of the book You Couldn’t Ignore Me If You Tried, the song was originally called “Won’t You (Forget About Me),” but Forsey changed it to the more optimistic “Don’t You.” By the time filming wrapped, Forsey and Schiff still hadn’t found anyone to record “Don’t You.”  (The duo did record a demo– which director John Hughes liked so much he used it for the opening scenes, when the students first arrive for detention.) In her book, Gora reports that Forsey wanted Bryan Ferry, of Roxy Music, to sing the song; unfortunately, Ferry’s father died right before a scheduled meeting between Ferry and the Breakfast Club The meeting never took place, and the Ferry plans quickly fizzled. Armed with the demo and clips from the film, co-producer Michelle Manning and music supervisor David Anderle spent several weeks shopping the song around London– to no avail. No one was interested. Singers who passed on the song include Annie Lennox...

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Sam Draws the 80s and It’s Totally Awesome
Mar04

Sam Draws the 80s and It’s Totally Awesome

You may have seen Sam’s drawings online; he’s developed quite a following.  In fact, he’s been featured in the Huffington Post, Good Morning America and has received praise from the likes of George Takei, Martha Quinn, and the guys from Wang Chung. If you are new to Sam’s work, he is a 6 year old artist in Portland, Oregon. After hearing a steady stream of 80s music (thanks to his 80s-loving mom), he was moved to draw what he heard.  And the results are amazing.  He gives new life and perspective to your favorite songs from the 80s. Well, we have the inside scoop as Sam’s mom, Lori, is one of our writers here at Like Totally 80s (see her stories here).  So, we asked Sam to do some 80s-inspired art just for us, and we love what he’s done! Q&A with Sam How did you get started drawing songs from the 80s? I heard a song when I was in kindergarten called “Hold Me Now” by The Thompson Twins then I drew it, then I drew more and more songs then we made a website. What other types of things do you like to draw? I like to draw hamburgers, hot dogs, my family, I like to use tracing paper to draw pictures from books. There’s so many things I like to draw. I hear you like to cook; what’s your favorite recipe? There are so many things I like to cook but mostly cake, cookies and pie. I want to be a chef or an artist when I grow up. Do you have an all-time favorite song from the 80s?  If so, what is it? Probably “Hold Me Now” because it was the first song I ever drew. What do you think makes 80s music so good? I don’t know, it’s just good! We couldn’t agree more, Sam.  80s songs are just good.  It’s that simple. Sam’s Like Totally 80s Art ‘Poison Arrow’ by ABC (1982) ‘The One Thing’ by INXS (1982) How impressed are you that Sam knows about negative numbers?!?   ‘Pac Man Fever’ by Buckner & Garcia (1982)   ‘Pop Muzik’ by M (1979) ‘The Wild Boys’ by Duran Duran (1984) See more of Sam’s work at his website,...

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80s Power Ballads: A Rating System
Feb12

80s Power Ballads: A Rating System

AUTHOR’S NOTE: “How did I forget ‘Home Sweet Home’?” That’s what I’ve been asking myself ever since I read the feedback to my last post, the one about the greatest songs from 1985. Sure, I couldn’t mention every big song. But, next to Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round,” Motley Crue’s signature love song was probably the most glaring omission. Of all the songs to overlook, how did I miss THAT one? (Actually, I think I know how: when I was first getting into music, Motley Crue always sort of scared me. Or more accurately, the kids who liked Motley Crue scared me. So that lingering unease might have had something to do with it. That, and my fear of excessive umlauting…) But, in a way, I’m glad I didn’t include “Home Sweet Home” the first time around, because that gives me an excuse to write a whole new piece — just in time for Valentine’s Day — on that reviled-yet-revered 80s mainstay, the Power Ballad. Where does “Home Sweet Home” fit in the Power Ballad Pantheon? Of all the guilty musical pleasures, the Power Ballad may be the guiltiest… and the most paradoxical. What Makes a Power Ballad? The hybrid name says it all. First, you have the “ballad” part: a gooey confession of love, usually complemented by a heartfelt piano, that builds to a lighter-waving (now cellphone-waving) crescendo of electric guitars and earnest wailing. Of course, that could also describe any garden-variety Peabo Bryson song. What makes the Power Ballad unique is the “Power” part — represented by the hard-rocking, hard-living bad boys, notorious for consorting with all manner of groupies, who now croon mushily about settling down with that one special girl. It’s the out-of-nowhere combination of these two opposites — the hard with the soft, the hedonistic womanizer with the hopeless romantic — that makes Power Ballads so paradoxical. And a little embarrassing, both for the band and the audience. In his 2001 article “Don’t Fight the Power,” journalist/ former SPIN Magazine editor Charles Aaron describes the Power Ballad as “the moment when macho rockers surrendered all their dignity” by seemingly laying their souls bare. But the fans do some dignity-surrendering as well by singing along, and thus acknowledging they too experience those less-than-macho feelings. Ultimately, the Power Ballad links artist and listener in a bond of wussiness, what Aaron calls “a general-admission utopia where both performer and audience share their most uncool desires.” But the bad boys don’t care about being cool, as long as they are well-compensated. And in the case of Power Ballads, they usually are; after all, that’s why they...

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1985: Thirty Year Retrospective (Music Edition)
Jan26

1985: Thirty Year Retrospective (Music Edition)

Bowling for Soup sure picked the right year to celebrate in its song “1985.”  Now, I know that I once proclaimed, on this very site, that 1983 was the best year in music ever. And last fall, Rolling Stone magazine called 1984 “pop’s greatest year.” But 1985’s got some game as well. So why, thirty years on, are we still preoccupied with 1985? Well, 1985 was the year of… Defining the Decade: Quintessential 80s tracks were released in 1985. I’m talking about your “Money for Nothings,” your “Can’t Fight This Feelings,” your “Don’t You (Forget About Me)s.” Also unleashed on an unsuspecting world in ‘85: Starship’s “We Built This City,” the song Blender magazine once infamously put at the tippity-top of its “50 Worst Songs Ever” list– which I always thought was a little harsh. Worst song ever? I don’t even think it’s the worst song of 1985! (How about “Possession Obsession,” the one Hall and Oates song sung by Oates? And don’t get me started with Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time”… you’re trying to say “We Built This City” is worse than that pile of steaming crud?) Making Names: ‘Til Tuesday, Sade, a-ha, and someone named Whitney Houston released debut albums in the U.S. in 1985. Also, even though they all had recorded albums previously, 1985 was also the year that New Edition, Depeche Mode, Hooters, Mr. Mister, Tears for Fears and Wham! were able to “make it big.” Building Legacies: Established acts made sure these young whippersnappers didn’t hog too much of the airwaves. Old friends who made some noise in 1985 included Hall and Oates (“Out of Touch”), Prince (“Raspberry Beret”), Foreigner (“I Want To Know What Love Is”), Kool and the Gang (“Fresh”), Stevie Wonder (“Part-Time Lover”), Commodores (“Nightshift”), John “Still-Cougar” Mellencamp (“Lonely Ol’ Night”), and most importantly, “Weird” Al (“Like a Surgeon”). Even Aretha Franklin zoomed back into the Top Ten with “Freeway of Love.” And speaking of the Queen of Soul, sisters were likewise doing it for themselves in 1985: Tina Turner (“We Don’t Need Another Hero”), Sheena Easton (“Strut”), Annie Lennox (“Would I Lie to You?” with Eurythmics), Pat Benatar (“We Belong”), and Chaka Khan (“I Feel 4 You”) all graced the charts that year. But it was Madonna who soared way, way over the borderline into super-duper-stardom, thanks to songs such as “Material Girl,” “Into the Groove,” and “Dress You Up” (coincidentally released around the same time her nude pictures surfaced). Being Nice: Everyone apparently took charity pills in 1985, as evidenced by USA for Africa’s “We Are the World,” the Live Aid extravaganza, and the foundation of Farm Aid....

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In Defense of Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
Dec22

In Defense of Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

In 1984, an instantly classic holiday song tried to save the world.  Thirty years later, it seems the song needs to be saved from itself. I originally intended to write a piece outlining how the 1984 version of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is infinitely superior to the 2014 version. (Sorry, One Direction guys, but it’s true.) But after some initial research, I realized the 1984 version is not quite as beloved as I thought.  In fact, many folks downright loathe it, for a bunch of compelling reasons: Its misrepresentation of African climate and geography (So, there isn’t snow in Africa, eh?  What about the caps of Mt. Kilimanjaro?  And no rivers flow, huh? What about the Nile, only the longest river in the world?) Its utter misunderstanding of religious practices in Africa (Pretty sure the 380 million plus Christians in Africa know it’s Christmas, and I’ll bet the Muslims who make up 45% of the African population are likewise aware of Christmas, even if they don’t celebrate it.) The reduction of the immense, complex country of Africa, made up of fifty-four nations, to a single, desolate place where “nothing ever grows” And, finally, the imperialistic and patronizing tone of the whole project. Legitimate gripes, all. The song really does portray the Western world as the oh-so-altruistic White Knight out to save the poor and pitiful “other ones” in Africa.  And yet, I still have a soft spot in my 80s-loving heart for the song. Maybe because I was fourteen when the song came out and thus too young to appreciate how patronizing the song was.  Maybe I’m just a sucker for songs that feature Sting singing “sting of tears.” Maybe I just really dig Phil Collins’s gnarly drum track. Ultimately, despite its glaring faults, I feel there are still plenty of reasons you can enjoy “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”  Here are five: Band Aid 1984 Was a Superstar Summit Boy George, Simon le Bon, George Michael, Sting– these guys were HUGE in the mid-80s,. Heck, even Paul Young– who opens the song– may be residing in Obscurity Town today, but he had a major hit at the time with “Every Time You Go Away.”  The fact that Bob Geldof was able to get all of these big names (and big egos) together for one song was very impressive indeed. (As an aside: When my fourteen-year-old son showed me the video for the new version of the song, I kept asking, “Who’s that singing now?”  Except for Bono, Seal, and Sinead O’Connor, I didn’t recognize anyone. Of course, my son didn’t recognize anyone from the 1984...

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Sampling the 80s
Nov17

Sampling the 80s

Why Current Artists Can’t Resist Picking from the 80s Buffet As if you need more evidence that 1980s music is the greatest, consider this: even now, almost a quarter-century after the decade folded, artists are still ripping off– oops! I mean, “sampling”– 80s hooks for their own songs. For example, just the other day, I was thrilled to hear on the radio Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” (a.k.a. The “Duh-Duh-Da-Duh” Song). Only it wasn’t Suzanne Vega: it was Fall Out Boy, whose newest single “Centuries” heavily borrows from Vega’s song. And this is just the most recent stop on the 80s Sample Train. Artists as diverse as Rihanna (who samples Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” for “S.O.S.”), Jessica Simpson (who includes echoes of John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” in “I Think I’m in Love”) and Pitbull (who got help from both Christina Aguliera and a-ha’s “Take on Me” for “Feel This Moment”) have adopted 80s grooves for their own purposes. And speaking of Pitbull . . . don’t get me started on all the rap and hip-hop artists who have dipped into the teeming treasure trove that is 80s music. Of course, everyone knows the debt that M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice owe to 80s songs: Hammer liberally lifted from Rick James and Prince (for “U Can’t Touch This” and “Pray,” respectively) and Vanilla Ice’s entire, thankfully short-lived career relied solely upon the bass line of Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.” But even hip hop artists who aren’t punchlines have sampled 80s songs: Flo Rida borrowed from Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Around” for “Right Round,” P.M. Dawn from Spandeau Ballet’s “True” for “Set Adrift on Memory’s Bliss,” and Sean “Whatever-He’s-Calling-Himself- This-Week” Combs from the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” for “I’ll Be Missing You,” his tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. (who himself sampled “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross in “Mo Money Mo Problems”). And there’s much, much more. Nicki Minaj, Jay Z, Kanye West, L. L Cool J, Drake– they’ve all paid homage to the great 80s. Moreover, some 80s songs are so amazing, they get sampled over and over: “Billie Jean” has appeared in songs by Ice Cube, ODB, and Aaliyah, while Toto’s “Africa” has inspired tracks by Ja Rule, Wiz Khalifa, and Xhibit. Now, not everyone looks favorably on this trend. Some fans decry these artists for their lack of creativity, for being so sample-minded, they’ve become simple-minded. Other 80s purists get really territorial about the whole sampling phenomenon and take on an indignant, “get-your-own-damn-music” kind of attitude. Me? I don’t have a problem with newer artists sampling 80s music (that whole “ripping off” crack...

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The 5 Best Make-Out Songs of the ‘80s
Nov12

The 5 Best Make-Out Songs of the ‘80s

The 1980s gave us so much great music—totally awesome music for partying, doing aerobics, slow dancing, cruising on Friday nights, and above all, making out! Who else remembers kissing in the backseat of the car or on the couch with one eye open, making sure Mom or Dad didn’t peek out the living room window or come down the stairs? Anyone? Depending on what area of the country you grew up in, making out might also have been called muggin’ or grubbin’ or snogging or pashing, or one of the less appealing options like sucking face, swapping spit, or tonsil hockey. Whatever you called it in the 80s, when these five songs came on the radio, it was make out central in my 80s world: ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin Turning and returning To some secret place inside Watching in slow motion As you turn my way and say Take my breath away… The movie Top Gun brought us many great things: non-stop action, an epic volleyball scene, and one of the greatest make out songs of all time. Berlin’s hit won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe back in 1986. With its dreamy synth-pop sound and singer Terri Nunn’s velvet-smooth voice, whose breath wouldn’t be taken away by this ballad? ‘Heaven’ by Bryan Adams And baby, you’re all that I want When you’re lyin’ here in my arms I’m findin’ it hard to believe We’re in heaven… Melt . . . sigh . . . we’re in Heaven! This rock power ballad/love song was a number one hit off Bryan Adam’s album, Reckless. With a sweet guitar lick opening and sweet lyrics to match, ‘Heaven’ was the theme to many proms, homecomings, winter formals, and back seat make out sessions in 1985. ‘Is This Love’ by Whitesnake I can feel my love for you Growing stronger day by day, An’ I can’t wait to see you again So I can hold you in my arms Is this love that I’m feeling, Is this the love, that I’ve been searching for… You know I had to include a butt rock, big-haired, beautiful ballad on this list right? Whitesnake’s ‘Is This Love’ made it all the way to the number two spot in 1987, their second biggest hit alongside the equally sexy ‘Here I Go Again.’ The music video also featured lead singer David Coverdale’s then-girlfriend, Tawny Kitaen dancing, rather than doing gymnastics on the hoods of cars. The song was deemed one of the top power ballads of the ‘80s by VH1 and was a certified make out hit. ‘I Need Love’ by LL Cool J When...

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80s Halloween-Themed Music Quiz
Oct16

80s Halloween-Themed Music Quiz

It is officially the season– when grizzly ghouls from every tomb close in to seal our doom, when we bark at the moon and speak of the devil, when people across the country ponder the eternal question of “Who ya gonna call?”   And so, Like Totally 80s would like to present our first-ever “80s-Music-Halloween-Themed-Quiz.” (Still working on the name…) 80s Halloween-Themed Music Quiz Time limit: 0 Quiz-summary 0 of 31 questions completed Questions: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Information Below are thirty-one questions (in honor of the number of days in October as well as the number of years since the “Thriller” video debuted), each one of which has something to do with ghosts, vampires, monsters, and sundry spooky stuff.  Good luck! You have already completed the quiz before. Hence you can not start it again. Quiz is loading... You must sign in or sign up to start the quiz. You have to finish following quiz, to start this quiz: Results 0 of 31 questions answered correctly Your time: Time has elapsed You have reached 0 of 0 points, (0) Categories Not categorized 0% How Did You Do? 26-31 Correct– True Thriller! 17-25 Correct–  Quiz-Buster! 10-16 Correct– Frightfully Inept 4-9 Correct– Creep-slow 0-3 Correct– The quiz equivalent of going out for Trick-or-Treat and coming home with a bag of rocks. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Answered Review Question 1 of 31 1. Question What group released “The Ghost in You” in 1984? Correct Totally awesome! Incorrect Bogus, dude! Hint They also sang the title track to ‘Pretty in Pink.’ Question 2 of 31 2. Question What hair metal band’s second album is called Shout at the Devil? Grim Reaper Cinderella Motley Crue Autograph Correct You Rock! Incorrect Bogus, dude! Question 3 of 31 3. Question Which Men at Work song includes the line “Ghosts appear and fade away”? Correct Incorrect Question 4 of 31 4. Question Since we’re on the subject . . . What 1983 Men at Work song (and accompanying video) recounts the story of a nerdy mad scientist who drinks one of his own potions and is transformed into a gregarious party-goer who is “cool in every way?” 'Down Under' 'Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive' 'Business as Usual' 'Be Good Johnny' Correct Rock on, dude! Incorrect Like, totally not the right answer, man. Question...

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