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About This Time 40 Years Ago… It’s The Hits Of June-ish 1984!

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The Hottest Song On The Planet:

It’s “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood!

So, as mentioned in our last 80s installment, ZTT’s – (that is, pop-theorist Paul Morley, and pop’s greatest computer nerd, Trevor Horn)- marketing strategy for the entire Frankie Goes To Hollywood project was to release singles, discussing the big issues, in the following order:

  • Sex!
  • War!
  • Religion!

They’d already done SEX with “Relax.” Which means that now: it was time for “War.”

One might argue that in “Two Tribes”, Holly Johnson manages to cover all three of those Big Topics in one single proclamation and/or rhetorical question:

“Are We Living In A Land… Where SEX!!!! And HORROR!!!! Are THE NEW GODS!?!?!?!?!

But mostly, “Two Tribes” is about war. A topic that was never far from the thoughts of most children of the 80s:

… Who truly believed that the Cold War could turn hot at any moment and that we’d all be fried into a nuclear frizzle.

There were a lot of similar songs around at the time.

Ultravox were in the charts with “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes”, a pounding synth-rock throb based on a Neville Shute novel – “On The Beach” – in which a bunch of characters on the outskirts of Melbourne wait to die as a nuclear cloud drifts towards them, the result of a war in the Northern Hemisphere.

It was also a 1959 movie, starring Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire and Ava Gardner, who famously noted that Melbourne was “the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world.”

“Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” is the sound of a world hurtling towards certain-destruction, which also makes it, I have been informed on good authority, perfect for Molly Ringwald style dancing (it’s a 7.)

Frankie Goes To Hollywood took a different approach. “Two Tribes” is an anti-war song cleverly disguised as a “rah, rah” pro-war song. Holly Johnson sounds truly exhilarated by the prospect of war, cackling through his role as a circus-ringmaster of chaos, over-the-top of a track whose name was taken from Mad Max 2, whilst sounding more like it belonged to still-a-year-away Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome.

“For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war

And touched off a blaze which engulfed them all”

HOLLY JOHNSON, ET AL

“Two Tribes” makes war sound exciting. And I say that despite the fact that war is something I despise, ’cause it means destruction of innocent lives, tears to thousands of mother’s eyes… good for absolutely nothing, and nobody, with the notable exception of the undertaker.

“Not bad. Not bad at all.”
“Now do ‘Twenty Five Miles From Home.’ “

Frankie would also cover “War.”

A lot of thought went into “Two Tribes,” and not just Trevor Horn’s typical spending-weeks-in-the-studio-trying-to-get-the-sound-just-right. The whole arrangement, for example, is supposed to be highly symbolic. The dramatic strings are supposed to be Russian – some say Tchaikovsky – and thus to represent the Soviet Union. The synthesizer slap bass is supposed to be funk, and thus to represent the United States.

But it’s also the little details and references scattered throughout it all.

There’s a sample in there of a “Protect & Survive” public information film about surviving a nuclear attack.

On the 12-inch remix – one of them anyway, there were six of them: Featuring names such as “Annihilation”, “Carnage”, “Cowboys & Indians” and “We Don’t Want To Die” – the guy who voiced the Reagan puppet in the UK political satire program impersonates Ronnie introducing the band:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, let me present Frankie Goes To Hollywood, possibly the most important thing, this side of the world.”

The Ronnie-impersonator also quotes Hitler in there somewhere. It’s in English, so it’s hard to tell.

Holly was clearly obsessed with Ronnie. Many of the lyrics to “Two Tribes” – “Cowboy number one, a born-again poor man’s son, on the air America, I modelled shirts by Van Heusen” – read like a Reagan Wikipedia page rewritten as a haiku.

Thus we find ourselves in the situation where the biggest party song of the year was also the most overtly political. They put a picture of Lenin on the record cover. Ronnie and Maggie on the back. Plus a list of the number of ballistic missiles possessed by both “tribes”. This is a lot of content to digest for one hit single.

But most of the geo-political references were saved for the video. A video in which world leaders have it out in a wrestling ring.

Specifically, we have President Of The United States, Ronald Reagan – portrayed by possibly the Least Convincing Reagan Impersonator Of All time – and Konstantin Chernenko, at the time the General Secretary of the Soviet Union. You may not be familiar with him.

He’s probably the most forgotten Soviet Leader Of All Time. He’s played by someone who looks vaguely Russian, which given that nobody really knew what Konstantin looked like, was effort enough.

Konstantin was only General Secretary for just over a year, most of which time he spent in hospital. Then he died; of everything from emphysema to cirrhosis of the liver. An unsuspicious death then, at least by Soviet standards. Given everything that was wrong with his health it would have been more suspicious if Konstantin had continued to live.

And given everything that was wrong with his health it shouldn’t’ve been too difficult to defeat him in a wrestling match. Ronnie really shouldn’t have needed to resort to biting his ear off.

If only they’d waited until 1985, they could have had a Gorbachev impersonator instead. They could have done the Naked Gun holding Gorby in a headlock whilst rubbing-his-birthmark-off joke!

Given Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s favoured aesthetic I’m surprised they weren’t jelly wrestling. There is a lot grabbing Ronnie by the nuts, though.

““We just want people to realise how stupid the whole thing looks when war is stripped down to its basic form!” said Paul Rutherford, the one with the porn moustache. Mission Accomplished!

“Two Tribes” basically did for geo-politics what “Relax” had previously done for sex. All of which made “Two Tribes” – according to a review in “Cash Box” – a better, or at least “more scintillating anti-war song than “The War Song.”” Then again, that wouldn’t be hard. “The War Song” is probably the least convincing anti-war song of all time. “The War Song” discredits the entire-peace movement.

“The War Song” is stupid. (“The War Song” is a 4.)

So, the next time you look at the direction our world is headed, and start to feel defeatist about it all, just remember:

The Planet Earth managed to get through the 80s without blowing itself up, despite the fact that everyone seemed to take it for granted that we were most definitely about to do just that. If we could not blow ourselves up then, we can not blow ourselves up now.

Two Tribes” is an 8.


Meanwhile, in ‘When Two Squeaky Voiced Disco Divas Go To War’ Land:

It’s “Borderline” by Madonna…

… And “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper

One of the great pop battles was heating up. A battle between two fashion misfits with squeaky voices, teased hair, and a love of fingerless fishnet gloves. One would become – arguably already was – one of the biggest pop stars of her era. The other would become One Of The Biggest Pop Stars Of Every Era!

Madonna’s debut album – titled Madonna – had been out for about a year at this point. And for such a collection of irresistible pop-sugar-rushes, it was surprisingly slow to catch on. “Everybody” didn’t even make the Hot 100. Neither did “Burning Up” despite very clearly being on fire.

Things finally started to move about six months in, with “Holiday,” before finally, “Borderline” – the 4th single – broke into the Top 10.

Maybe Madonna just needed to wait for Cyndi to pave the way for her. Once “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” had introduced thrift-shop fashion to the masses, Madonna could sweep in with her own trashy take; dialing back on the bright colours, whilst ramping up the sex. Cyndi and Madonna may have come up at the same time, with a similar look, and a similar new-wave-but-disco sound and attitude, but in many ways, they were very, very different.

Compare the coverage:

  • When Rolling Stone magazine put Madonna on the cover they went with “Madonna Goes All The Way.

That was in November 1984. “Like A Virgin” hadn’t even reached Number One yet, and already Madonna was already getting Rolling Stone covers. It may have taken a while for Madonna to arrive, but once she arrived, SHE ARRIVED!!!

By that time i-D magazine had already put Madonna on the cover of the “Sex Sense” issue, although, if not for the beauty spot, you might not recognize her.

Now, for Cyndi: People Magazine went with:

  • “Inside the strange world of rock’s loopy, lovable Cyndi Lauper – How an inspired misfit turns weirdness into wealth… and hey, she bops!”

The strange world that People Magazine describes is really not that strange. The strangest part is learning that Cyndi decided that she liked Dave Wolff – her manager/boyfriend – after they had a conversation about “rock pygmies that went underground and come up for wampanini juice.”

So there we have it. By the end of 1984, the public personas of the two biggest female pop stars of the era had been clearly established.

Cyndi = kooky, loopy, crazy.

Madonna = sex.

Or, as one critic – Frank Spotnitz, who would later be a screenwriter for The X Files – put it: “Lauper as a tiny-but-tough, squeaky voiced New Yorker and Madonna as a come-take-me, uh, lady of the evening with a heart of gold.”

Which makes it interesting that it was Cyndi – and not Madonna – who was singing about sex, albeit with herself, so early on. Madonna fans would have to wait until “Hanky Panky” (“nothing like a good spanky”) or “Justify My Love” for Madge to give them a similarly suggestive hit single. (“She Bop” is a 9.)

Cyndi would soon get sick of being compared to Madonna all the time. She also got sick of being compared to Boy George, simply because they both liked bright colors. Cyndi obviously thought her colors were more… true?

Decades later the comparisons continue.

Cyndi insists that it’s a gender thing; that they don’t do that sort of pit-against-each-other thing for the boys, which would certainly be news to Prince and Michael.

If you put “Cyndi Lauper vs Madonna” into Google, as obviously I did, you will be faced with a choice of marketing and business case studies as to why Madonna succeeded and Cyndi failed.

… tl;dr Madonna was into controversy and marketing her sexuality and reinventing who she was all the time, and Cyndi just wanted to be herself, wear bright colors and scream a lot.

So, maybe Cyndi needed to happen before yuppie photographers started venturing into urban wastelands looking for trashy girls with crucifix earrings and fingerless gloves – no “Boy Toy” belt just yet, that was still to come – breakdancing with street kids, for them to hand their business cards to and whisk away in their sports cars.

And no wonder yuppie photographers were interested in Madonna. She’d already shown how she could make love to the camera when given virtually no budget and nothing more than a white screen to dance in front of; whilst singing a perky nursery rhyme filled with astronomical puns (“Lucky Star” is a 9)

And maybe, in order to truly breakthrough, Madonna simply needed to sing a ballad.

Now, “Borderline” isn’t a ballad per se. The beat on “Borderline” pops just as much as it does on every other Madonna jam. But compared to “Holiday”, “Burning Up” and “Lucky Star”, “Borderline” shows Madonna’s sensitive, romantic side. It’s the first hit in which she sounds as though she’s interested in more than just a one-night stand.

I don’t quite know what “pushing (Madonna’s) love over the borderline” means exactly – there’s a surprisingly large community of Madge fans who insist that the song is about Borderline Personality Disorder, which feels like a radical reading of the text.

But the general gist seems to be that Madonna is crazy for this guy, but he won’t open his heart to her, or justify his love, or express himself, and this has sent Madonna into the wilderness…

We learn a lot about Madonna from the “Borderline” video. We learn that she is hungry for fame. So hungry for fame that she’ll flounce off with any rich dude with a camera and a sports car. We also find that she’s worked out a fool proof plan for ensuring that she is both unforgettable and unignorable, which is to burn every bridge you cross…

In this case by spraying painting – albeit accidently – the yuppie’s sportscar.

So “Borderline” isn’t a ballad, despite the pretty and oh-so-80s keyboards on the intro. But it’s still Madonna expressing her vulnerable, sensitive side. A vulnerable, sensitive side that, still, isn’t as vulnerable, nor as sensitive, as that which Cyndi displays in “Time After Time.” Although to be fair, Cyndi was a far bigger personality on virtually every emotional dimension, other than ego.

When Cyndi sings a sad song, she sings it with a sob.

When Cyndi sings a sad song, the second hand unwinds and the drum beats out of time (I’m always slightly disappointed that the drums don’t actually beat out of time at that point, but maybe that would be a little too literal…) In the video, she lets a tear go. In fact, she lets two.

Naturally, like Madonna, Cyndi was obsessed with classic old movies. They were both of the first generation to be brought up by television. The difference being that whilst Madonna would soon recreate “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” Cyndi watches old Marlene Dietrich movies – 1936’s “The Garden Of Allah” in this case – and mouths along to every word. In her caravan. In the middle of the forest. In the middle of the night. With two plastic flamingos standing guard outside.

Cyndi may have been one of the biggest pop stars on the planet, but she still presented herself as someone who might have no choice but to buy her clothes in an East Village thrift store.

For now at least, Cyndi was still the bigger star. But how long could that possibly last for?

“Time After Time” is a 9. “Borderline” is a 10.


Meanwhile, in Rock’N’Roller Resistance Land: ‘

It’s “Oh Sherrie” by Steve Perry…

and “Dancing In The Dark” by Bruce Springsteen

We’ve been covering a whole lot of New Romantic frippery lately. A whole lot of British pop stars with incredible hair. Now it was time for the rockists to strike back! To fight the good fight! To take a stand for authenticity! For “real music”! For America!

Steve Perry…

…Lead singer of Journey, chronicler of the woes of small-town girls, living in a lonely world, and of city boys, born and raised in South Detroit, a man with utterly terrible hair, a man far shorter than his mighty voice might make you expect – was leading the charge, walking out of a pretentious video shoot, leaving its pretentious cast and crew banging on about the Flaming Forest Of Doom, to sit on a staircase and bellow “WELL YOU SHOULDA BEEN GOOONEEE!!!!!!”

And thus Steve proved that you don’t need tights and a jester’s hat to sing a love-song, all you need is a pair of tight denim jeans and a great big hall with amazing acoustics. And a girl to sing to. A girl called Sherrie. Who Steve was dating at the time. Good work, Steve. She’s way hotter than you.

Ironically of course, both the intro and the outro to “Oh Sherrie” are dripping with so many overprocessed synthesizers that it may as well be “Together In Electric Dreams” from the movie Electric Dreams, the story of a love triangle between a man, a woman, and a computer, the latter of whom ends up committing suicide so that the man and the woman can be together… or something.

It’s quite possibly the cheesiest 80s movie ever made.

“Oh Sherrie” is a 9. “Together In Electric Dreams” is a 10.

Even more than Steve Perry, Bruce Springsteen was the embodiment of the rockist revival. That’s probably not the role he would have chosen for himself.

Bruce has shown time and time again that he has no time for reactionary forces in society.

Also that he has a lot of time for pop. He told Jimmy Fallon that he was a Miley Cyrus fan – they were comparing “Wrecking Ball” with “Wrecking Ball” at the time – and that he really liked “We Can’t Stop.”

So Bruce seemed to take a far more conciliatory approach in the war against pop. For one thing “Dancing In The Dark” was played in discos. Or clubs, as they were beginning to be called, what with disco being a dirty word and all.

“Dancing In The Dark” was being played in places where people danced in the dark.

And the reason “Dancing In The Dark” was being played in such places was because Arthur Baker, fresh from producing Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” and “I.O.U.” by Freez and “Confusion” by New Order, did a remix.

We’re talking truckloads of echo on the snare-drums, “Holding Out For A Hero” drum rolls all over the place, gospel-choir backing-vocals, sprinkles of cascading synths… – which was apparently the biggest selling 12-inch of 1984! It was also the 50th most played record in the clubs that year. That’s a lot of clubbers dancing in the dark.

The official line on “Dancing In The Dark” is that Bruce’s producer was trying to convince him that the album – Born In The U.S.A., of course – needed another song to be the big hit single. Apparently “Born In The U.S.A.” itself wasn’t hit single enough sounding. Neither apparently was “Glory Days.” Or “I’m On Fire.” So Bruce tried to write another song, but he had writer’s block, and so “Dancing In The Dark” is a song about writer’s block. And sure, probably.

I prefer to think of it as a song about a guy, a tragic character, addicted to clubbing. Bruce gets up in the evening. He comes home in the morning. Bruce Springsteen is, as Laura Branigan put it so well at about the same time, a “creature of the night.” (“Self Control” is a 9.)

I picture our narrator, Bruce, living in a small, cramped apartment, just off a dark alley; trying to write his book by the light of a flickering fluorescent tube. Going out to dive bars, in search of inspiration, but all he finds is empty, meaningless sex. The “gun for hire” in this reading is, well you can see where I’m going with this… Bruce may have a sideline as a gigolo. This book he’s writing is not going to pay for itself.

This reading makes a lot more sense when it’s not Bruce singing it, but, let’s say Lucy Dacus, or even better, Hot Chip. Their version sounds very much like the clubs that the narrator may have visited in 1984… imagine if Dead Or Alive had covered it! I mean, Frankie Goes To Hollywood did cover “Born To Run.”

“Dancing In The Dark” was responsible for transforming Bruce from a critically acclaimed radio-friendly rock star, to a fully-fledged MTV pop star, dominating the charts to such an extent that he’d soon practically get top-billing on “We Are The World.” And a lot of that was because of the video, in which Bruce is all sweaty biceps, like he’s the musical version of Sylvester Stallone, dancing like a “Footloose” before-photo, and of course, because of Courtney Cox.

“Dancing In The Dark” is an 8.


Meanwhile, in Soppy Love Song Land:

It’s “Hello” by Lionel Ritchie

I am shocked.
I am astonished.
I am stunned.

It turns out that “Hello” is not regarded as the definitive Lionel Ritchie ballad! Both “Endless Love” and “Say You, Say Me” have more streams on Spotify!

I mean, sure, there’s not a lot in it, and “Hello”s 268 million streams certainly doesn’t embarrass itself. But “Endless Love” has 350 million streams. “Say You Say Me” has 275 million streams. They are apparently both more popular than “Hello.”

But then again, it’s not as though anyone is posting “Say You, Say Me” posters on telephone poles. Or memes of said poster on the social media platform of their choice, the way they do for “Hello.”

Neither can you buy “Endless Love” welcome mats on the Spotify merchandise page, the way you can for “Hello.”

Not to mention a mug, with the question “Hello, Is It Tea You’re Looking For?”

All of which appears to be official Lionel Ritchie merchandise.

Did he really sign off on the doormat? Really?

And when the beer brewers of Australia needed a song for someone to sing whilst playing a piano inside of a fridge in an advertisement for their sounded-like-a-good-idea-but-turned-out-to-be-the-biggest-marketing-flop-of-all-time product TapKing, what else could the slogan be but… “Hello, is it beer you’re looking for?”

And nobody’s writing thought pieces about the video for “Endless Love.” Did “Endless Love” even have a video? Or did they just show footage of Lionel and Diana singing on Solid Gold or something?

Checks: almost, it was the Grammys.

But, four decades on, people are still writing thought pieces about the video for “Hello,” mostly debating whether or not Lionel is a dangerous stalker/sex-pest/prank-caller, pondering whether a teacher spending his entire day following a blind girl around campus is a fire-able offense, or simply wondering what the hell is going on?

The Dallas Observer has claimed that “Lionel Richie’s “Hello” is the Most Confusing Music Video of All Time.”

Then, of course, there’s the question everyone asks: how does she know what Lionel looks like?

“Hello” is a 9.

But it gets TEN MICROPHONES simply for giving you the opportunity to sing the world’s greatest ever dramatic pause.

“Hello” * dramatic pause * is the karaoke song you are looking for.

To hear these and other 80s hits, tune into DJ Professor Dan’s Twitch stream on Monday nights Melbourne time… so about Monday lunch time London time… breakfast New York time?

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Phylum of Alexandria
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June 10, 2024 8:54 am

Some stray thoughts:

  • “She Bop” is the greatest sex song to hide in plain sight.
  • The puppets from Genesis’ “Land of Confusion” video haunt me to this day.
  • In contrast, the images from FGTH’s “Two Tribes” video just, well…Don’t Do It. For me.
  • Steve and Lionel: This ain’t “Thriller.” Skip the talking and get to the damn song.
mt58
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June 10, 2024 11:00 am

“She Bop” is the greatest sex song to hide in plain sight.”

Correct. The subtlety makes it the poetry. Compare:

“Because I can’t stop messin’ with the danger zone”
vs.
“When I think about you, I touch myself.”

When making the inevitable comparison between Cyndi and The Divinyls, the more interesting take is obvious.

rollerboogie
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June 10, 2024 9:28 am

Hello is a 10 for me, but I will gladly take the 9 after usually being in the minority on this one.

I guess I wasn’t paying attention in ’84 because I never thought of Cyndi and Madonna in competition with each other. To me, they sounded nothing alike and I didn’t associate them together at all. I still don’t.

Virgindog
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June 10, 2024 10:12 am
Reply to  rollerboogie

Agreed. Madonna had a thin voice but used her charisma and sex appeal to reach pop superstardom. Cyndi Lauper had a voice that could knock down walls, and her fun personality was just a bonus. She was a star based on her vocal talent and artistic choices. Madonna’s talent was in marketing.

Virgindog
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June 10, 2024 10:46 am

OK, I get it. Did MJ and Prince have a feud? I missed that one, too.

Ozmoe
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June 11, 2024 4:05 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

It wasn’t a feud so much as Michael wanted to outdo Prince on the charts while Prince never cared much for Michael. I base the former on what it said in the MJ musical and the latter on Prince saying how Michael wanted him to do the duet on I Just Can’t Stop Loving You originally (I can already see Prince rolling his eyes about that one). Ironically, both had a lot in common. MJ and Prince were both huge crossover artists, arguably more pop than soul. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses who nevertheless made some, umm, I’ll just say, rather non-church like sexual poses in public. They had tense relationships with their fathers. Both had brief movie acting careers that never really panned out on screen. And saddest of all, they both died from drug overdoses in the 50s.

cstolliver
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June 11, 2024 4:10 pm
Reply to  Ozmoe

In addition to IJCSLY, I’ve always heard that Prince was supposed to sing the line in We Are the World that went to Huey Lewis (“but if you just believe, there’s no way we can fall”) when Prince declined.

Chris S
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June 10, 2024 11:01 am

A few thoughts…

–I remember watching a local video music channel at the time–local, as in not MTV–and it pretty much played videos on a loop; both Borderline and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun were in that loop. I wasn’t sure what to make of either–I was in elementary school at the time–but I knew that I liked both songs. I also had a feeling these two would be jockeying for a similar spot in the pop “wars”, so to speak; the aesthetic was similar, both from a look standpoint and a musical one. It’s strange now to see how divergent their respective paths ended up being; Madge became the Queen of Pop, while Cyndi managed to stay (somewhat) in the spotlight, despite decidedly diminishing returns from a consumer standpoint, by dipping her toe into other creative avenues. She just announced her Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Farewell Tour and has a documentary out, no doubt a push for entry into the Rock Hall (a la the Go-Go’s, Tina Turner and Sheryl Crow). I hope she makes it.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and She Bop are 9’s; Time After Time is a 10. Borderline is also a 10.

–Despite the Spotify rankings, I’d still argue that Hello is Lionel Richie’s signature ballad. It’s funny, because back in ’83 when Thriller was the be all to end all, Lionel was always my preferred artist. Can’t Slow Down was my very first vinyl album–it was a Christmas gift from my aunt, alongside Duran Duran’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger–and All Night Long was my jam, full stop. Hello…..is not a favorite of mine. It’s well constructed and beautifully performed, but I’ve never liked it (Stuck on You is better). 5 or 6 range for me, strictly based on musical construction.

–Self Control is a 9; Laura Branigan had some solid wins, but she never had the full success she deserved. Great, highly underrated vocalist.

mt58
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June 10, 2024 11:18 am
Reply to  Chris S

Nice to see you, @Chris_S !

Pauly Steyreen
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June 10, 2024 12:06 pm
Reply to  Chris S

I snatched up those Cyndi Lauper tickets the day they went on sale. I have doubts if her voice still holds up (her New Years Eve performance a couple of years ago was not good), but she’s a national treasure and beloved by both me and Mrs. Pauly. So it was a no brainer — we had to go.

JJ Live At Leeds
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June 10, 2024 2:04 pm

Re: Konstantin Chernenko, I remember watching the video a few years ago thinking they got Gorbachev badly wrong. Then realising it was his predecessor, the one that every forgot due to the fact that he was awol for most of his short tenure.

Still, he got his moment of infamy thanks to Frankie.

As for Oh Sherrie, I can’t decide if I dislike the song or the video more. Probably the song, the video at least has a cheesy moment in time quality which is missing from the song – but even then its no matxch for Hello. I’m going to strongly dissent from the 9 and give it a 3.

blu_cheez
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June 10, 2024 5:11 pm

“Oh Sherrie” has one of the greatest mondegreen first lines ever:
“Your cinnamon gum!”

Also, that 12″ of “Dancing In The Dark” is awful (and I love that song). The drums? Yikes.

This is a very cool cover of that song:
https://youtu.be/sE1pBndoZD8

Love these article – keep ’em coming!!

cstolliver
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June 10, 2024 7:55 pm

One thing I love about this column is you give us a global view of the hits that helps put the U.S. performance in context. For example, with “Two Tribes,” although it was major in U.S. clubs and on MTV, it was not a Billboard Hot 100 smash, and what chart life it had came in 1985 after “Relax” belatedly broke in the U.S.

(I agree that “The War Song” is stupid, and would give it a 2.)

I do remember those Cyndi vs. Madonna comparisons, which is hilarious decades later — just as silly as the Prince vs. Michael stuff. Agree with both of your scores for “Borderline” and “Time After Time.”

I agree with Chris S. (great to see you, buddy!) that “Can’t Slow Down” was an underrated monster album and that “Stuck on You” is a much better ballad than “Hello.” (I’d give “Stuck on You” that 9 and “Hello” a 5 or 6.)

I like the Arthur Baker remix of “Dancing in the Dark” though I know lots of Bruce purists do not. He was going for a different audience, not the folks who’d been following Springsteen from the Jersey club days on.

And “Oh Sherrie” is lots of fun, even if Perry’s solo career went out with a whimper not much later.

Chris S
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Chris S
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June 10, 2024 9:11 pm
Reply to  cstolliver

I like Oh Sherrie also, though I thought Foolish Heart was alot better (though not quite as successful).

LinkCrawford
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June 11, 2024 7:50 am
Reply to  cstolliver

“Foolish Heart” is a decent ballad that I like better than I did in 84. “Oh Sherrie” holds up as a great pop song from the day. I suppose if I heard it every day that would get old, but in fact I probably only hear it a few times a year, and it’s always a happy occasion.

bcm4648
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June 11, 2024 11:08 am

I like Cyndi Lauper but I love Madonna—always have, dating back a long time. But they’re very different and I never compared them or anything like that. There are a lot of reasons they had diverging chart fortunes through the ’80s. Some of it was serendipity. Some was probably how much they wanted it: Madonna was clear from day one that she wanted to conquer the world but I don’t know what Cyndi’s goals were. Madonna also didn’t take her foot off the gas through the decade while after that once-in-a-lifetime run in She’s So Unusual, Cyndi’s singles ran out of steam a little.
Cyndi Lauper’s voice is world-beating but I just connected with Madonna more and maintained that connection. At the heart of what I love about her is the idea of adventure, musical and otherwise. I can see it even in the photos above—Madonna gives you that look that says, “Come with me. I know a place,” and that appealed to me.
Anyway, here are some ratings:
Borderline: 10
Time After Time: 10
She Bop: 9
Two Tribes: 10
Relax: 10
The War Song: 2
Oh Sherrie: 8
Dancing in the Dark: 8

mt58
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June 11, 2024 3:13 pm
Reply to  bcm4648

“…but I love Madonna…”
And you wrote a good one about it:

https://tnocs.com/living-to-tell-madonna-remembers/

Last edited 12 days ago by mt58
Zeusaphone
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June 11, 2024 11:34 am

This was about the time I graduated high school.

You underestimate how much everyone in my generation believed nuclear war would happen. It wasn’t a question of “if”, just “when”.

bcm4648
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June 11, 2024 1:59 pm
Reply to  Zeusaphone

The world literally almost ended twice in 1983, but the public didn’t know it for many years. It wasn’t just paranoia.

mt58
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June 11, 2024 3:15 pm
Reply to  bcm4648

I remember the story about Stanislav Petrov – what was the other…?

Zeusaphone
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June 11, 2024 3:36 pm
Reply to  mt58

Pretty sure he’s talking about the Able Archer exercise

bcm4648
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June 13, 2024 10:46 am
Reply to  Zeusaphone

Yes, Able Archer 83.

Ozmoe
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June 11, 2024 4:13 pm

Two fun facts I’ll add here:

1) Cyndi Lauper is just an Oscar shy of claiming EGOT status (Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony winner, in case you’re wondering). In contrast, Madonna is just a Grammy winner (as well as a lot of other awards though).

2) If Sherrie did indeed marry Steve Perry, she’d be Sherrie Perry.

cstolliver
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June 11, 2024 5:30 pm
Reply to  Ozmoe

If Madonna ever won an Oscar, it would be in the song/score category, I’m sure.

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