Showing posts with label 1984. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1984. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

14/100 Video - "Thriller" - Michael Jackson (1984)

Best way to handle a zombie apocalypse?

Guns: Nope. Nuclear bombs: Naw. Dancing: YES!

"Thriller" by Michael Jackson doesn't really need any introduction. I realize this video should be higher on the list but I'm suffering from a bit of zombie fatigue.

The storyline. The twist. Then the dancing. And the choreography.

A clip that was equally frightening as exciting for those of us who were kids when this came out.

Monday, March 22, 2021

16/100 Video - "Material Girl" - Madonna (1984)

The classic video branded Madonna with a her 
"Material Girl" nickname, a track that is so quintessential 80s. 

Inspired by Madonna's fascination with Marilyn Monroe, this video is an homage to Marilyn singing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" from the movie Gentlemen prefer Blondes.

The first part of the video shows illustrates the assumption that guys think women are all materialistic and will want lavish and expensive gifts, thinking they can buy her love. 

But in reality, as the end of the video demonstrates, the real way to her heart is as simple as a bouquet of flowers and a realistic happy love with guys who are down to earth.

The irony was often lost and/or ignored by journalists, so the name and the image stuck.

Friday, March 19, 2021

19/100 Video - "Rockit" - Herbie Hancock (1984)

"Rockit" by Herbie Hancock was the first hit song to feature scratching.

The bizarre video, which features a host of animated mannequins, was one of the most innovative of the era. 

The video freaked me out as a teenager, with mannequins having seizures, banging their heads on tables. 

I went to bed thinking random items were going to burst out of closets and drawers.

Directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, the very popular video won five video music awards in 1984: Best Art Direction, Best Concept, Best Editing, Best Special Effects, and Most Experimental Video. 

Along with Michael Jackson and Prince, Hancock was one of the first black artists to get significant airplay on MTV, but he barely appears in the video (he is shown in a few shots of the television sets), which was by design. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

20/100 Video - "Two Tribes" - Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1984)

"Two Tribes" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood is a hi-energy dance club track with an amazing bass line that peaked at #1 on the UK charts in 1984.

The video showcases a wrestling match between US President at the time, Ronald Reagan, and then-Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko in front of an audience of representatives from the world's nations.

This clever metaphor for the Cold War degenerates into complete global destruction. Almost forty years later, the shocking ending of the earth exploding is still chilling to see.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

63/100 Video - "Radio Ga Ga" – Queen (1984)


The video for "Radio Ga Ga " by Queen uses black-and-white footage from the 1927 science-fiction film Metropolis, as well as clips from old concerts. 

But how cool is that flying car?

The song was a social commentary on how television was overtaking radio's popularity, as well as the advent of the music video and MTV, which was then competing with radio as an important medium for promoting records.

Fun fact: Without this song Lady Gaga would probably be still known as Stefani Germanotta.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

80/100 Video - "Smooth Operator" - Sade (1984)


Speaking of James Bond theme songs, here's a track that could have easily been one.

I'd always wondered why Sade seemed so fond of western Maine. The region wasn't apparent in the suave video.

The answer: she wasn't. 

I had misheard the lyrics to Sade's "Smooth Operator", oh for the last thirty-some years. 

FYI, the lyric in question: "Coast to coast, LA to Chicago, western male".

So I'll also ignore the fact that Chicago is not located on the coast.

Nitpicking aside, the video for "Smooth Operator" oozed sophistication to my then 15-year old ears and eyes, presenting a cosmopolitan alternative to the never-ending gyrations of the Madonna and Cyndi Lauper at the time. 

Plus it had a great sax riff. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

84/100 Video - "The Ghost In You" - The Psychedelic Furs (1984)

Although British band The Psychedelic Furs is best known for the title track on the Pretty In Pink soundtrack, I've always preferred the shimmering synths and the sheer beauty of the pseudo ballad "The Ghost In You".

This song and video master the 'sad verse, happy chorus' classic alternative formula.

I love the sharp colour contrasts in the video between the more subtle verses and the slightly happier chorus. 

During each verse, the black and white clips show a reflective Richard Butler singing in front of his backstage mirror.

The melancholy is offset in each joyous chorus as the frame changes to an altered reality, as vibrant colourful bubbles move about the screen.

You may recall the track was featured in the romantic comedy 50 First Dates starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

The chorus's cerebral lyrics "Inside you the time moves and she don't fade, the ghost in you, she don't fade" reduce the sappiness of what ultimately is an old school new wave love song...and what a lovely song it is. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

93/100 Video - "Torture" – The Jacksons (1984)

"Torture" by The Jacksons isn't just a music video. It's also a mini horror movie.

It's so bad, it's good.

Musically, the brothers remind us that there was a lot of talent in the family tree to go around.

But all the brothers didn't make it into the video. MJ had other commitments and Jermaine refused.

Although MJ sings a verse, he doesn't appear in the clip. Edit: there's a wax mannequin of him instead.

Now the video itself is a delicious slice of 80s swagger.

The overuse of cheesy special effects and tropes typically reserved for science-fiction and fantasy movies reflects one helluva budget.

The eye in the middle of the hand. The elaborate costumes. The dancing babe. Giant spiders. Demonic symbolism.

For the grand finale, a group of dancing skeletons steal the show. There's even a moonwalking skeleton.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

97/100 Video - "Jump" - Van Halen (1984)

While the video for Van Halen's classic hit song "Jump" is a straightforward mock performance, it looked ground-breaking at the time.

But it's the natural chemistry and random stage moves of the entire band that lift this video to the top of the class.

The ever colourful David Lee Roth and guitar legend Eddie Van Halen were born to be in front of the camera. 

We may remember Roth first and foremost as a showman, but he was a pretty good damn singer, too

And then there's Eddie and his guitar magic. This clip also reminds us he was equally adept at playing the synthesizer. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

1984 - "Eyes Without A Face" - Billy Idol

"Eyes Without A Face" is two tremendous songs for the price of one. 

The first half sees a chill Billy Idol crooning a ballad, with no screaming nor squealing guitars in sight. The synths are dreamy and laid-back.

One of the best hooks of the decades, I've always loved the female vocals leading into the chorus. The angelic "les yeux sans visage" harmony literally translates the track’s name, and encouraged me to translate other pop singles of the day into French. 

The second half is a complete 180 turn. 

Kicking in around 2:25, the minute-plus breakdown features a Steve Stevens' guitar riff slashing through Billy's road trip bender lyrics  about his nomadic bus tour reading murder books whilst trying to stay hip.

Billy returns to do his best Sinatra impression to wind up the power ballad.

Other favourites from 1984: 

"It's My Life" - Talk Talk

"Wouldn't It Be Good" - Nik Kershaw

"Relax" - Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Sunday, March 24, 2019

#9. "Eyes Without A Face" - Billy Idol (1984)

"Eyes Without A Face" is two tremendous songs for the price of one. 

The first half sees a chill Billy Idol crooning a ballad, with no screaming nor squealing guitars in sight. The synths are dreamy and laid-back.

One of the best hooks of the decades, I've always loved the female vocals leading into the chorus. The angelic "les yeux sans visage" harmony literally translates the track’s name, and encouraged me to translate other pop singles of the day into French. 

The second half is a complete 180 turn. 

Kicking in around 2:25, the minute-plus bridge features a Steve Stevens' guitar riff slashing through while Billy goes on a road trip bender whilst "trying to stay hip".

Billy returns to do his best Sinatra impression to wind up the power ballad.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

#15. "It’s My Life" - Talk Talk (1984)

"It's My Life" by Talk Talk is a synth-pop masterpiece and pure magic: both song and video.

A soaring chorus, warm synths and a catchy bass line carry it along.

In the video the animals for the most part are in the sync with the sounds: check out when the whale breaches and the running ostrich. Perfect. 

The nostalgia factor cuts deep, as I find myself wondering whatever happened to all those animals in the zoo and in nature. 

It's a powerful and even joyous tune that should make us want to follow our dreams and respect and protect the natural world. Not a bad ROI on a 80s new wave tune.

No Doubt's cover in 2003 charted higher than the original which is a minor travesty.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

#22. "Here Comes The Rain Again" - Eurythmics (1984)

Here comes the chill again, running up my spine...

"Here Comes the Rain Again" is a mesmerizing and immaculate new wave classic and one of the most beautiful pop songs ever made. 

Like many of my favourite tunes, I dig a cinematic opening. 

Then the powerful and entrancing vocals of Annie Lennox kick in and carry the show along with the shimmering melodies. 

The sweeping instrumental bridge and Annie's final chorus offer convincing and ample proof that synth music can churn out emotion and soul.

I used to hear this track in my parent's car while we'd take a day trip to Lawrencetown Beach in the summer of 1984 and of course for years later, whenever a low pressure system was bearing down.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

#26. "Wouldn’t It Be Good" - Nik Kershaw (1984)

Wouldn't it be good if "Wouldn't it Be Good" would be covered by Matthew Good? 

This is a great pop song with the iconic opening guitar riff and an irresistibly catchy synth line. The tune keeps getting better: the sweet instrumental bridge with the guitar & brass solo is genius.

Always enjoyed the deep lyrics with a slightly dark tone. "Wouldn't it Be Good" is one of the first songs that lead to a shift in my preferences over to the melancholic side of the spectrum. 

For its time the video was entrancing, with hints of what to come in the next year with A-ha's "Take On Me".

Fave lyrics: "Wouldn't it be good if we could wish ourselves away?"

Sunday, February 24, 2019

#42. "Relax" - Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1984)

That fookin' bass line!

The debut single from Frankie Goes To Hollywood became one of the 80s most controversial songs. It was also among the most popular, staying the UK charts for 42 weeks. 

And tenacious: the single was released twice in both the UK and US as it under performed the first time around.

More than a tune about wanking or shagging, "Relax" filled the dance floors on both sides of the Atlantic with an anthem that influenced the club music boom to follow later in the decade.

I recall getting down to this one at Rosa's on Argyle with the fog machine in its full glory. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

#54. "Thieves Like Us" - New Order (1984)

New Order does downtempo on the beautiful and epic "Thieves Like Us".

Recorded in New York with DJ Arthur Baker as a follow up to "Blue Monday", the song makes its mark with a sweeping cinematic opening, a full two minutes and twenty-five seconds of sonic bliss before the first vocal.

It's also New Order signature love song: the layered synths and Peter Hook's signature bass create captivating, dreamy melodies. Bernard Sumner often gets railed for his often out of tune vocals but his plaintiff style is especially fitting here. 

But that's part of the secret appeal of New Order, their imperfections make them perfectly human.

One of three New Order songs to be featured on the Pretty in Pink movie (although only "Shellshock" appears on the soundtrack), "Thieves Like Us" also appears on the Substance album that got me hooked on them back in 1986.

Fave lyrics: "I've studied the cracks and the wrinkles. You were always so vain"

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

#55. "Love on a Real Train" - Tangerine Dream (1984)

Fans of cinematic chill music will appreciate this one. So put on your headphones and be prepared to be transported to another world inside your mind.

I remember stumbling on "Love on a Real Trainafter picking up a mixed chillout CD sometime in the early 2000s, and thinking I'd heard this sublime track before. 

Turns out it had been featured in the 1983 film Risky Business (during the love-making scene on the train between the Tom Cruise & Rebecca de Mornay). The tune has since been included on other film soundtracks and television series. 

Pioneers of early electronica, German artist Tangerine Dream has produced dozens of scores for soundtracks including more than 20 in the 1980s alone.

"Love on a Real Train" is an epic classic of the genre: a hypnotic song that demands replay. The track guarantees a magical entrancing ride of the mind through layers of synth that build, ebb and flow. Chills and goosebumps should follow.

In fact, it's been remixed several times, an obvious homage to its greatness. Check out this recent version that is equally mind-blowing:

Monday, January 7, 2019

#91. "Hold Me Now" - Thompson Twins (1984)

The first single from the 1983 Into the Gap album,"Hold Me Now" has an incredible melody. 

The track features a unique array of instruments: a piano, a xylophone and a plethora of cool percussion (check out the setup of noise-makers behind Alanah Currie: cymbals, bells, rattles and tomtookas!). 

The final chorus drives it home with some really nice vocal harmonies. 

"Hold Me Now" is also the first of six from the epic The Wedding Singer soundtrack to appear on this chart.

The Thompson Twins were no stranger to movie soundtracks. Soon after "Hold Me Now" hit the charts in North America, the ballad "If You Were Here" from Sixteen Candles solidified their standing as household names in the mid-80s.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

#99. "99 Luftballons" - Nena (1984)

One of many pro-peace anthems from the Cold War era, "99 Luftballons" by German artist Nena reached #1 in much of Europe, Canada (I think) and #2 on US Billboard, only bested by "Jump" by Van Halen. 

Shout out to the bass plucking to keep things kinda light since the lyrics are dark as hell.

The song is about how balloons were mistaken for missiles on the radar thus instigating a nuclear war. But at the very end of the tune, after the apocalypse, a single balloon is found offering hope.

I prefer the German version to the English remix "99 Red Balloons", much in the same way I'd rather watch Montreal Canadiens home games in French on RDS: for the authenticity. 

Fave lyrics: 
"99 Düsenflieger
Jeder war ein großer Krieger
Hielten sich für Captain Kirk"

"99 jet planes
Everyone was a great warrior
Thought they were Captain Kirk"

Below is a great sounding redubbed English version from Nena's appearance on the popular Brit show Top of the Pops

Since it's now 2018 and environmentally incorrect to release 99 red balloons into the air, we no longer have to worry about balloons triggering an apocalyptic use of military force.  

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Bubbling under: "Do They Know It’s Christmas" - Band Aid (1984)

Band Aid may not have achieved all its lofty goals but it was still a good idea.

Just the fact that the 'who's who' of the British music scene came together to make a charity song spoke volumes about their hearts. It led to the Americans and the Canadians to follow. It inspired Live Aid concerts in the summer of 1985. And dozens of similar gigs.

About the song itself, that intro with the bells still gives me goosebumps. With all the egos in the room (check out Sting starring at Bono) it was amazing that the track even got produced in the first place. 

The spirit and magic of collaboration is on full display as Boy George and George Michael sung emotive lines while the boys from Duran and Spandau Ballet played side by side. 

I'll always remember the SEA staff party in Halifax (1997?) when Bruce from accounting unpacked his acoustic guitar while we took turns botching the lyrics. 

Below are the follow up songs, ordered by my personal preference: Canada's "Tears Are Not Enough" by Northern Lights and the USA for Africa "We Are The World".