If you want 80s pop, get that The Bangles debut ASAP!

I, like everyone else who wasn’t a teen in the 80s, know the Bangles for their chart toppers “Eternal Flame” (all the white girls sing along but not in the right key), “Manic Monday” (which was a gift from Prince, how the hell did I not know that????) and “Walk like an Egyptian” (double the fun since the German punk pop band Die Ärzte covered this in German and I liked it back then as a kid but now really question why they would leech on the Bangles’ success when they would have been ok without this cover).

Also, a fun fact, I have to note: “Manic Monday” was only surpassed by one other song on the charts: Prince with “Kiss”. He basically topped himself. Damn.

BUT today I listened to their debut album (1984) “All over the Place” and I feel like we wronged them so much by only citing the mentioned trifecta of hits. “Going down to Liverpool” is an amazing song and sounds like The Smiths but without the moping (and there’s no way they copied the Smith’s style because both debuts came out the same year). The song was written by Kimberley Rew from Katrina and the Waves, by the way.

Also, the video has a grumpy Leonard Nimoy and one fantastic joke that I won’t spoil now because I love you.

I mean, the music videos alone are so much fun because of all that 80s fashion game going on but the whole album is fantastic and I have no idea why it never pops up in the best albums of the 80s lists because there’s not really any filler song and not every song sounds basically the same (looking at you, The Smiths*).

It’s a bit of a shame that apparently the music industry destroyed this band by featuring mostly Susanna Hoffs because they thought she was, I don’t know, marketable? The music industry can be such a dick. And when the band broke up and Hoffs tried it solo, they dropped her during the recording of her second album. What a dick move, Universal.

I mean, this pre-debut single is fantastic:

It’s also the biggest shame and simply outrageous, that no one gave Michael Steele a record contract for the next 20 years after the band broke up because Steele did not just have the best hair but also a gigantic voice and guitar and bass guitar skills to hold her own (“Walk like an Egyptian” would only be half as good without that bass line). I mean, if you have the whole package right there, why not sign her and make it happen? Universal was a mess in the 80s, I tell you that.

*Look, I like the Smiths but they are the Nirvana of the 80s in that they get way too much credit for being the most popular of a certain zeitgeist sound that was dominated by white dude bands that were moping and kind of a downer.

Cover me: INXS ‘Never Tear us Apart’ – and a lot about musical stars

I am watching “SVU New York” which – according to the internet – makes me a 70 year old lady who drinks a small glass of liquor and eats a cucumber sandwich when she watches this show. Does it redeem myself if I say that I only watch it to see Raúl Esparza (in the role of lawyer “Rafael Barba”) one day break the fourth wall and break out in song? Because that’s what I always hope for whenever I see a Broadway star on TV. So far, only “Orange is the New Black” and “Pushing Daisies” actually helped me fulfill my tv-dreams, so Raúl – make it happen! (*there is an inordinate footnote about more of this at the end of this article, in case you are interested in those Broadway-outbursts. It totally derailed after I wrote the initial entry and I am kind of sorry but not really – my readers know that I have a soft spot in my heart for all things cheesy-musically-a-cappella-y).

Anyways, in one of those “SVU”-episodes I stumbled over Paloma Faith’s cover of INXS’ “Never Tear us Apart” which might be one of the greatest 80s songs in the history of great 80s songs. It has everything: A charismatic and amazing vocalist with the late Michael Hutchence, an epic orchestra to give the dramatic background, a single guitar strung while the drums go faster and harder, one of those moments in a song when everything stops only to commence much stronger and lyrics that evoke nostalgia as well as a feel of great gravitas and being in the moment. Ok, it also has one of those horrible saxophone solos that no one ever asked for but that just happened in the 80s and early 90s but given that the rest of the song is stellar, let’s not hold that against it.

Now, I like Paloma. She is cool and classy and doesn’t talk so much crap like Lily Allen (man, it’s really difficult to like Lily Allen when you read her interviews). It’s a great version and pretty much the best version of all the “Never tear us apart”-cover songs. It’s dramatic, it doesn’t have the saxophone solo and her voice gives it a certain James Bond-vibe.

Paloma gives the song justice and it’s no “Celine Dion sings ‘I Drove All Night'”-trainwreck – far from it, actually.

But Michael Hutchence is one of those rare shiny and unfortunately tragic examples of one of a kind-artists who give so much of their own to a performance to a song that there is no one who can do it better. So, whatever version I might listen to, his is the only one that I really want to listen to. No wonder – what a giant shadow he cast.

I won’t post the Joe Cocker-version because it’s really not good. I didn’t even believe that Joe would sing this song because vocally, it’s such a weird fit and Joe’s usual growling by the end of the song is simply off-putting because the song works through a singer who is in control of his emotions and doesn’t go full Cocker on stage. Cary Brothers* did a pretty solid cover but didn’t really add too much to the song. And even though Tom Jones and Natalie Imbruglia add a lot to the song, it might be a little too much and they out-duet each other so much that the song loses the initial cool and determination. I am also not the biggest fan of their Diva-grandeur by the end of the song with one singing over the other. It feels a little as if they don’t really get the song.

*I initially thought it was the Cary Brothers, even though it is just a man named Cary Brothers. Given that I even wrote about him before, that’s kinda embarrassing but also – admit it – a very easy mistake to make. Still, story to Mr. Brothers and his fans.

(Edit, April 2018) Apropos unfitting growling and duets who don’t seem to get it: Cade Foehner, the Michael Hutchence-hair model from this year’s (2018) “American Idol” did a cover version duet together with Bishop Briggs and it’s … not good. I actually do like Cade and his above-American Idol-level guitar play but his growly voice and Briggs’ weird aggressive Rage against the Machine-vibe (and dancing) is really off-putting because again, the song is such a masterpiece in grand emotions delivered in a nearly Lynchian-cool aesthetic (highly stylised, highly controlled, a little feeling of old-fashioned noir and even the outbursts sound like they are orchestrated which makes everything go under your skin).
The way that Foehner and Briggs interpret the song is nearly as if they don’t know what this is about. It’s a love song and not a “stick it to the man”-hymn for the “damn the man”-generation. It has a hecking sax solo! How much more polished can you go?

It’s a true “what were they thinking?”-moment for me, dawg.

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Cover me: James Ray ‘Got My Mind Set On You’

The cover version by George Harrison is one of the many songs that marked long trips in the car with mix-tapes by my mom. For a very long time, I thought that it was a song by ELO because the slight Rockabilly-vibe and the backing vocals in the song are ELO’s trademark. That should be no surprise, though, as Jeff Lynne (If I am not mistaken) not only plays in the video but also produced Harrison’s album “Cloud Nine” which features this song.

Little did I know, that this is an actual Rock’n Roll tune from 1962, originally sung by James Ray and written by Rudy Clark. Clark is some sort of pop-wizard because he also wrote the insanely awesome “Shoop shoop song” and “Good Lovin’”.

Little fun fact: “Got my mind set on you” was the last #1 Hit in the US performed by an Ex-Beatle. It must kinda suck that it wasn’t even written by Harrison.

I usually tend to pick the song I heard first as my favourite and Harrison’s version was a huge part of my childhood but I’d say it’s a tie because the original…man, Ray’s voice sells this thing and he could sing it without any backing instrumentals and it would still be gorgeous.

 

Underrated: Nik Kershaw is not the Guilty Pleasure you think he is

Oh dear, the 80s, so many bad fashion choices (only surpassed by the ghastly 90s) and so many crap-tastic songs and music videos. When it comes to dancing the night away, the 80s are my favorite decade and you can bitch and moan as you want, it was an awesome time for music.

However, because someone spread the nasty rumor that the 80s were the worst in everything, some artists of that time got completely overseen when the 90s arrived to pretend that they were any better. One of them is definitely Nik Kershaw, aka the guy with the white overall and the movie on said overall.

I could have posted the original music video but this version of the song is my all-time favourite, it’s from 1985, and it’s one of those songs where I actually have a “wait, wait…I LOVE THAT PART!”-part (which starts 2:35 and usually gets interrupted by “who throws toy guinea pigs at a concert?”) Continue reading

so…this actually happened…

Offensichtlich schreib ich derzeit weniger über Musik, was daran liegt, dass ich mich a.) mental auf Top of the Blogs 2011 vorbereite und auch noch ein 80s Pop Revival im Hinterkopf habe, das hoffentlich auch noch dieses Jahr hier erscheint und b.) weil mich derzeit auch nix wirklich umhaut, von den bereits erwähnten Bands der letzten Monate einmal abgesehen. Naja, damit hier nix austrocknet, hier etwas, was…äh…ja…

Wow.

Und ich weiß, es ist total vorhersehbar, aber hey, cooler Song:

Lieblingslied: Billie Joel – For the longest time

Ich dachte eigentlich immer, dass Billie Joel für ungemein langweiligen Amipop steht, aber derzeit ist wohl irgendwie Jubiläum von irgendwas, weshalb es auf Spinner.com ein paar Alben von ihm gibt und wer hätte es gedacht, auf eine charmante Art und Weise mag ich den leichten Hauch von Rock’n Roll und mit dem folgenden Song hat er sich unmittelbar in mein Herz gesungen, gute Laune, soooo gute Laune…oh ja, a cappella kriegt mich immer.

Lazy Sunday: Wendy’s Hot Drinks 80er Ubersong!

Als ich gestern Abend diesen Cracked Artikel las, in dem unter Anderem von 80er/90er Trainingsvideos für die Fast Food Kette Wendy’s geredet wurde, war ich drauf und dran, das Video mit Schnauben und verächtlich hochgezogener Augenbraue zu sehen, stattdessen war ich ca. 20 Sekunden im Video am Tanzen und leider lüge ich nicht, ich mag vielleicht nicht aufgesprungen sein, um einen heißen 90er Jahre Breakdance hinzulegen, aber meine Schultern sind in Vogue-Madonna-Gestik schwungvoll nach links und rechts gewandert. Ich würde es ja gerne ironisch sehen, aber verdammte Scheiße, für einen 80er Jahre Song ist der astrein und wenn ich ihn irgendwo aufgetrieben bekomme, landet der definitiv in meiner Discoplaylist. Und als wäre das nicht genug, ich weiß außerdem auch noch, wie man Heißgetränke bei Wendy’s serviert, meinem Work&Travel Urlaub in den USA steht also nichts im Wege!

Coversongs: When you were mine

I recently got the classic Lauper record “she’s so unusual” and I gotta say, I was blown away. Apart from the typical hits, I really didn’t expect such versatile and incredibly timeless songs. Given that the 80s are back in our pop-music, it puts most artists nowadays to shame because they won’t be able to create such brilliant popsongs in a million years.
“When you were mine” is my current favourite although its no Cyndi-original but was written by Prince who has a hand for writing great songs that get popular when covered by females (Sinead, I am looking at you!)
Prince’s version is up-tempo and therefore sounds more like the protagonist is determined to get the Ex back. In Cyndi’s version, you have the feeling, she has already given up but still hopes that he’ll come back to her.
According to Wiki, Cyndi didn’t change the gender when singing the song (I love that, you should be confident enough to keep a “he” or “she” in it, Alex Turner does that as well which is one of the many reasons why I am in awe with him as a musician). Anyway, this caused many people to think that she meant that her ex was actually gay, came out of the closet and now is with another man which happens, so it added another possible meaning to the song.

Prince (this might not stay on youtube that long, so hurry up watching it!)

Cover me: The Cure songs

There are people (I think, quite a few) who would consider a The Cure-cover as mere blasphemy and would burn everyone who tries. I think they make at least 50% of the people who would also burn everyone who covers The Smiths but I digress.
Now most of The Cure covers actually are shit because they are boring and sound nearly like the Cure except they are less good.
However, there are two cover versions of two rather known songs that I simply adore.

1. Editors – Lullaby

I am not lying, it is Tom Smith’s voice and nothing else. I’d become a satanist if he would tell me to, or even better, whisper it into my ear.
There is a way that “Lullaby” becomes less playful and simply frightening in the Editors version and somehow Tom Smith manages to make you feel claustrophobic with the urgence in his voice. I am in a really tough situation because I wouldn’t know which version I like best. The Cure’s version actually sounds like a Spider walking with long gaunty legs and Robert James Smith sounds as if he is already at the brink of sanity, whereas the Editors version is menacing and the vocals are more sane but deeply frightened. I love them both.

Original

Cover


2. Marmaduke Duke – Friday I’m In love

Now, I don’t know how many bands have covered this song and failed, even Death Cab For Cutie, although quite charming, didn’t manage to make the listener not think “Man, I really want to listen to the original after this”. But Marmaduke Duke who have blessed us with a genious album (Duke Pandemonium) this year, have created a weird, off-putting electropunk-monster of this lovely love-song. The violently distracting drum-rhythms and the woozy intro and outro are pure bliss. I still love the original but when listening to Marmaduke Duke, I am torn between “Man, I really have to listen to the original after this” and “Man, I really have to listen to that one again after this”.

Original

and the crayzay cover!