Showing posts with label 1983. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1983. Show all posts

Sunday, April 4, 2021

3/100 Video - "Wrapped Around Your Finger" - The Police (1983)


As a young teen I'd always been mesmerized by "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by The Police. I still am decades later. 

So mellow, yet so hypnotic. And Sting was so damn cool bouncing amid a labyrinth of candles.

Directed by Godley and Creme, the video was shot in slow motion while Sting lip-synced in time with the music - something that required an unusual performance.

The magic of Sting's melodic and lyrical prowess, Andy Summer's sparse effective guitar and Steward Coupland's intricate drum work all reach new heights on this textured tune.


From the lighting of that first candle, the video has always entranced me. 

The obscure literary references in the verses made me flip through the encyclopedias as Sting found a creative way to weave in such words as apprentice, Charibdes, Mephistopholes, tuition, fruition, and from the iconic bridge, alabaster.

And what a bridge! 

It never fails to give goosebumps. Both lyrically and musically, the tune picks up the tempo when the tables are turned on the master and servant relationship dynamics in question as "You'll be wrapped around my finger". Captivating stuff.  

The simple "I'll be wrapped around your finger" chorus shimmered. The synths are hauntingly beautiful.

And I'd love to chat with the folks who lit all the candles, what a job!

Those candles will burn forever in my mind, save for those that Sting knocks down at the end.

Fave lyric: "Devil and the deep blue sea behind me".

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

43/100 Video - "Love is a Battlefield" – Pat Benatar (1983)

 

Pat Benatar has such a powerful stage presence in the video for "Love is a Battlefield".

The cinematic video that acts like a mini-movie evokes full-on girl power and a rebuttal of sorts against men using women as their possessions.

The 90s have often been cited as the decade of the emergence of female artists.

But much of the groundwork had been laid in the 80s, thanks in part to the proliferation of music videos.

Monday, February 8, 2021

58/100 Video - "Dancing With Myself" - Billy Idol (1983)

I always looked forward to watching a Billy Idol video. 

Frankly, I could line up five or six Billy Idol videos in a top 100 countdown. But we'll settle for two to show more diversity.  


The lyrics were inspired after Bill visited a disco club in Tokyo, struck by the sight of the young Japanese crowd dancing with their own reflections in walled mirrors, rather than with one another.

The video for "Dancing With Myself" is one of his best, set in the future during what appears to be a zombie apocalypse.

Or is it?

By the end of the clip, all these supposed 'zombies' wanted to do was find a dance floor closer to their idol, Billy, and the tunes.

Apocalyptic super fans would be the more accurate description.

Monday, February 1, 2021

65/100 Video - "Mad World" – Tears For Fears (1983)

"Mad World" is typical of a Tears For Fears tune, with a striking contrast between the upbeat music and the darker, more serious lyrics.

The message of "Mad World" by Tears For Fears seems so relevant in 2020 and 2021.


In the video Curt is seen staring out a window while Roland busts a series of unstoppable new wave dance moves, perhaps early rave technique, sometimes mistaken for a nervous air traffic controller.

The short birthday party scene includes the duo's real friends and family, including Curt's mother and his then-wife Lynne.

Start the clip around the two minute mark if you would rather skip some of Curt Smith's depressive ramblings.

Back in April 2020, Curt Smith and his daughter performed this moving acoustic version.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

76/100 Video - "Living on Video" - Trans-X (1983)


In the early 80s, "Living on Video" by Montreal's Trans-X had all the fixings for a teenage boy.

Video games. Check.
Synth laser beams. Check.
Robots. Check.
Thrashing Keytar. Check.
Cute girl dancing. Check.
A French girl. Bonus Check.


"Living on Video" not only sounded like the future; the lyrics about surveillance predicted the future. 

The clip sounds and looks like some sort of backstreet video game arcade. Bring your quarters.



Monday, January 11, 2021

86/100 Video - "Separate Ways" - Journey (1983)


Tightly surrounding vocalist Steve Perry in a display of unity, "Separate Ways" was one of the first videos to show the "air band" technique.

Journey also hated making videos, which may explain why this one feels it cost under $20 to shoot. 

Shot on a wharf in New Orleans, the video features the band members in your face with awkwardly close close-up shots. 

"Separate Ways" by Journey is one intense tune. It was written during a turbulent time for the band as two members were going through divorces during the middle of a tour.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

92/100 Video - "Mama" - Genesis (1983)

 

If we judge his work solely based on the mid-80s era, it's easy to forget that Phil Collins had a bit of a dark side.

And "Mama" by Genesis may be the trippiest single Phil Collins has ever produced. 

Shot in black and white, the video is on the creepy end of the spectrum. Dark and powerful. But also beautiful and poetic. 

The song's slow menacing buildup is spectacular and Phil's vocals are among his finest.

And Phil is downright terrifying when does his little laugh grunts, as the camera shifts perspective and slides his huge mug closeup, staring, glaring back at us.

The song itself is about a young man obsessed with a prostitute who is not interested in him. Based on a book Phil Collins had read called The Moon's A Balloon, by David Niven, in which a young man falls in love with an older prostitute who does not return his affections.

Friday, January 1, 2021

96/100 Video - "New Year's Day" - U2 (1983)

While in junior high I tuned into ASN's Atlantic Canada's Choice on Saturday evenings lying down two feet away from the TV.

I recall watching the video for "New Year's Day" in a trance, captivated by this new group riding on horses and playing in an open field, in the middle of winter. 

This is the song that introduced Ireland's U2 to most of us in North America. 

The early U2 sound exuded fire and soul: the Edge's signature 'chugga-chugga' guitar and Bono's passionate vocals are alive and well here. 

Bono convinces us when delivering the chilling "I will be with you again" and "I will begin again" lyrics. 

I would find out later that the lyrics were about persecuted leader of the Polish Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa.


After all these years, "New Year's Day" remains an uplifting song, an anthem of freedom and renewal.

That piano riff that weaves in and out is pure magic.

The video was filmed in December 1982 in Sälen, Sweden, also known for its alpine ski resorts.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

99/100 Video - "Let’s Dance" – David Bowie (1983)



It would be sacrilegious to make a top 100 countdown without at least one Bowie tune.

"Let’s Dance" by David Bowie debuted in Canada in 1983. The clip was filmed in the Australian outback.

The first time I watched this video I recall asking the room, "who is this cool new artist playing guitar in the corner of some dive bar?"

"That's David Bowie", my dad said. "He was big in the 70s. A good musician but kind of a weirdo".

I shouldn't have been surprised with my father's response, given his preference for 'meat-and-potatoes' rock and roll i.e. Eagles, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Seger.

But I quite liked this introduction to Bowie, along with the follow up singles and videos for "Modern Love" and "China Girl".

I would later learn that this musician not only had a prolific discography, but he would be cited as a major influence for dozens of new wave groups, many I went on to love. 

IMHO, Bowie's greatest legacy isn't the quality and quantity of music he created, but rather how he made it cool (and acceptable) to be different. 

Friday, February 7, 2020

1983 - "Wrapped Around Your Finger" - The Police


As a young teen I'd always been mesmerized by "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by The Police. I still am, decades later on headphones. Hypnotic.

The magic of Sting's melodic and lyrical prowess, Andy Summer's sparse guitar and Steward Coupland's intricate drum work all reach new heights on this textured tune.

From the lighting of the first candle, the video had always entranced me. 

The obscure literary references in the verses made me flip through the encyclopedias as Sting found a creative way to weave in such words as apprentice, Charibdes, Mephistopholes, tuition, fruition, and from the iconic bridge, alabaster.

And what a bridge! It never fails to give goosebumps. Both lyrically and musically, the tune picks up the tempo when the tables are turned on the master and servant relationship dynamics in question as "You'll be wrapped around my finger". Captivating stuff.  

The simple "I'll be wrapped around your finger" chorus shimmered. The synths are hauntingly beautiful.

Decades later, I still dream of knocking all those candles down at the end of the video like Sting did when he channeled the 'boy inside the man'. 

Fave lyric: "Devil and the deep blue sea behind me".

Other favourites from 1983: 

"Major Tom (Coming Home)" – Peter Schilling

"Blue Monday" – New Order

"In A Big Country" - Big Country

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

#6. "Wrapped Around Your Finger" - The Police (1983)


As a young teen I'd always been mesmerized by "Wrapped Around Your Finger" by The Police. I still am, 36 years later on headphones. So mellow, yet so hypnotic.

The magic of Sting's melodic and lyrical prowess, Andy Summer's sparse effective guitar and Steward Coupland's intricate drum work all reach new heights on this textured tune.

From the lighting of the first candle, the video had always entranced me. 

The obscure literary references in the verses made me flip through the encyclopedias as Sting found a creative way to weave in such words as apprentice, Charibdes, Mephistopholes, tuition, fruition, and from the iconic bridge, alabaster.

And what a bridge! It never fails to give goosebumps. Both lyrically and musically, the tune picks up the tempo when the tables are turned on the master and servant relationship dynamics in question as "You'll be wrapped around my finger". Captivating stuff.  

The simple "I'll be wrapped around your finger" chorus shimmered. The synths are hauntingly beautiful.

Decades later, I still dream of knocking all those candles down at the end of the video like Sting did when he channeled the 'boy inside the man'. 

Fave lyric: "Devil and the deep blue sea behind me".

Sunday, March 24, 2019

#10. "Major Tom" - Peter Schilling (1983)

"Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Peter Schilling will always remind me of the space shuttle missions in the 80s.

The song is a sort of a sequel, an homage to David Bowie's astronaut character ("Space Oddity" and "Ashes to Ashes") who cuts off communication with Earth and floats into space.

The melody is so addictive, and the glorious exploding chorus with the 4-3-2-1 countdown is a natural singalong. I can't help but feel a little sappy while watching the video and imagining Major Tom looking down on Earth. 

So what happened to our hero? The sweeping melodramatic finale sounds like he made it home. 

In space.

On one hand, Major Tom may be left drifting out in space, unable to return to Earth. But perhaps that was his intent all along: could it be he just wanted to go away to some place, a new home, and not have to answer or reply to anyone?

Since the song was originally written in German perhaps something is getting lost in translation or interpretation. I'd be interested in a German's take on all this.  

Fave lyric: "This is my home. I'm coming home."

Here's the original German version:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

#14. "This Charming Man" - The Smiths (1983)


"This Charming Man" is the most iconic song in The Smith's repertoire: a veritable Marr & Morrissey masterpiece.

Johnny's Marr's trademark jangle guitar kicks it off and shimmers the rest of the way.  

Vintage Morrissey lyrics articulate obscure and elegant literary references delivered with verve. 

The bass is catchy, almost funky making the rhythm punchy, the melody upbeat. 

The buoyant and bubbly song is just so darn uplifting; imagine that for a second, from a band often branded as being miserable.   

The tune is short and sweet, clocking in at less than three minutes. Dare I say this "This Charming Man" rivals a typical single from The Beatles.

Fave lyric: “I would go out tonight / But I haven’t got a stitch to wear / This man said, ‘It’s gruesome/ That someone so handsome should care'”

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

#23. "In a Big Country" - Big Country (1983)

How about them bagpipe guitars? 

As a young teen I secretly wished "In a Big Country" by Big Country was the Canadian national anthem (Big Country hails from Scotland).

The descriptive lyrics conjured up iconic images of Canada coast to coast:

"in a big country dreams stay with you"
"mountainsides"
"seeing the sun in winter time"

Although the story line in the video is hard to follow (what exactly is happening anyway?), the symbolism only solidified my sentiment, featuring clips of all sorts of outdoor rural adventures: all-terrain vehicles, jet skies and scenic landscapes. 

As for the tune itself, it's a driving tour de force of old Celtic meets new wave starring a unique bagpipe-emulating guitar and fantastic drumming.   

Lyrically, I think "In a Big Country" is a song about getting back up when you get knocked down and it still gives me chills.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

#27. "Blue Monday" - New Order (1983)


"Blue Monday" sounded nothing like Joy Division. Released three years since New Order formed from the ashes, the number one selling 12" single of all time was the result of an evolution from bleak post-punk to cutting-edge electronic music. 

The song was inspired from the band's desire for an automated excuse to hit the bar early.

"Blue Monday" ended up being an accidental innovation, inspiring electronic music for the mind.

The drum machines and synths do their thing, mostly by accident as the story goes, while Bernard Sumner's sparse guitar and Hook's iconic bass weave in and out of the mix. While the infectious beats almost force you to move your body, Sumner's obtuse lyrics stirs the mind (mine, anyways). 

It's not my favourite track by New Order, but it was the one that reeled me in. 

I used to play this song incessantly but have moved on to a deeper dive and appreciate a few others. But every once in a while I"ll feel the need to crank 'er up and still be in awe that something so futuristic was even possible in 1983.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

#33. "New Year's Day" - U2 (1983)

While in junior high I tuned into ASN's Atlantic Canada's Choice on Saturday evenings lying down two feet away from the TV.

I recall watching "New Year's Day" in a trance, captivated by this new group riding on horses and playing in an open field in the middle of winter.

This is the song that introduced Ireland's U2 to many of us in North America. 

The early U2 sound exuded fire and soul: the Edge's signature 'chugga-chugga' guitar and Bono's passionate vocals are alive and well here. 

Bono is convincing when delivering the chilling "I will be with you again" and "I will begin again". I would find out later that the lyrics were about persecuted leader of the Polish Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa.

After all these years, "New Year's Day" remains an uplifting song, an anthem of freedom and renewal, and a staple on my beach runs. 

That piano riff that weaves in and out is pure magic.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

#58. "Don’t Walk On Past" - Blue Peter (1983)


This is the first of three Canadian songs in a row on this chart (yeah, Canada's music scene kinda boomed in the 80s). 

Let's make a blender shall we... 

Toss in a slice of Duran Duran groove (think "Rio"), mix in the suave sound of ABC, a dash of Roxy Music for inspiration, and a suit from a Spandau Ballet member and you get Toronto's Blue Peter one-hit wonder "Don't Walk Past".

Yeah, it may be borderline cheese but it's iconic at the same time. 

The tune has an immaculate arrangement and I always get a kick out of the blinking timed perfectly with the drums early in the clip. 

"Don't Walk Past" has an equally epic and unquestionably dated video featuring several period conventions: 
- a typewriter
- smoking in the office (albeit after hours)
- martini glasses: I counted 5 empty glasses and I ain't judging 
- fog (yes!)
- henchmen appearing from thin air aka the magic of video, 
- and the highlight: some of the slickest dance moves ever performed in a suit...plus bonus moves at 3:05 from former MuchMusic VJ Rick the Temp in the lower inset. 

It's too bad the tune never got any traction in the US or UK markets. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

#65. "Fascination" - The Human League (1983)


Caution: Guilty pleasure alert! 

By 1983 The Human League was already 5 years old. Formed in Sheffield, England's industrial heartland, they were one of the first synth bands to make it big, scoring hits on both sides of the Atlantic with "Don't You Want Me" in 1981 and "Mirror Man" in 1982. 

"Fascination" hit the charts in 1983 as the synths stormed the airwaves, even getting lost in the shuffle. But I'll still choose to play this one more then most Duran classics. Gotta love the democracy at play on this track, with the vocals shared by four band members.

About that cheesy keyboard melody: you'll either love it or it'll drive you bonkers. Add in that ear worm of a bass line and I can't get enough of it! 

If anything, "Fascination" is ample proof that synth music isn't all 'cold' and 'detached' as its detractors like to share.  

The video is reflective of shoestring budgets back in the day:
- Secure a small white-walled room in a low-rent part of town. Check.
- Play or airplay your instruments with reckless abandon. Check.
- Strategically-timed hand clapping to match the percussion. Check.
- Synchronized dance moves by the cute back-up singers. Check.
- Film in one take. Check.

Friday, February 1, 2019

#67. "Little Red Corvette" - Prince (1983)

"Little Red Corvette" is an anthem about the dynamics of a one-night stand. (Aren't all of of Prince's songs about sex?)

Prince's breakthrough song was a brilliant fusion of rock and dance.

Plus a whole lot of attitude: the girl-as-corvette metaphor recounts the subject of wild weekend escapades. 

Not only an evocative storyteller, Prince showed he was also a pretty decent guitarist too.

And since it was 1983, the synths and drum machines are alive and well. Stir in a few timely guitar solos into the mix and voilà: "Little Red Corvette" is a perfect example of post-disco pop. And a hint of what was yet to come from the king of leisure

A well-known fact: Stevie Nicks borrowed the tune's melody for "Stand Back".

A close #2 fave Prince tune tune would this catchy slice of psychedelia: 


Thursday, January 24, 2019

#75. "Synchronicity II" - The Police (1983)

"Synchronicity II" is a tune where the guys let loose and rock. 

It also star's Sting on the soapbox to share an important message.

While teetering and swinging amid a futuristic apocalyptic garbage heap, an especially  intense Sting describes in the verses how our so-called modern society, in the pursuit of material possessions and hellish suburban commutes, ultimately destroys our relationships and the natural world.

One of my fave lyrics of all time, "packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes", really drives the message home. By the end of the clip, a Loch Ness monster has been awakened "many miles away" and apparently on its way to settle the score.

I used to think a lot about "Synchronicity II" when I moved back to Clare from Halifax in spring 2003. My alternative interpretation of the lyrics made me appreciate the serene lake view that symbolized the Scottish loch “many miles away” from soul-sapping suburbia. 

Not to be confused with Synchronicity the album, "Synchronicity I" the song is another high energy offering from a group that ended up disbanding soon after, arguably still in their prime years.