September 21, 2006

Don't you have anything from the 80s in that stack of unplayable 45s you won't throw out?

Why yes I do:

Unplayable 45

And I will stand by this recording as one of the best pop singles ever. Nice video too. And it holds up over time so much better than that other song + video we enjoyed so much in the summer of 1984, when we moved to Madison, Wisconsin and got MTV for the first time: "The War Song." ("War war is stupid and people are stupid/And love means nothing in some strange quarters" -- remember that?)

But "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"... what a brilliant song! You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day.

And for all you B-side fans, wondering what's on the B-side. It's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (Instrumental)."

44 comments:

nunzio said...

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Still love that tune; they'll have to pry that 45 from my cold dead hands.

Doug said...

I never cared for the video. When I first saw it, I thought it was great Ted McGinley, of Married with Children and Revenge of the Nerds fame. Those short shorts were a bit much.

The one song on that album that I really thought was pure pop gold was "Freedom", which is different than the "Freedom" song George Michael sang on a solo album.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, yeah, shorts! Althousian hypocrisy!

useless ducks said...

Heh, not remembering the shorts I stumbled upon this version of the video (as interspersed with Zoolander clips,) that even fits the themes of the day!

bill said...

And I will stand by this recording as one of the best pop singles ever. Nice video too.

Now you've crossed the line and a letter must be written to your employers. 1984 was a bad year looking at the billboard charts. But if you delve deeper, it was a phenomenal year for music. Here's a few of my favorites from 1984:

Purple Rain - Prince
Let it Be - The Replacements
All Over the Place - The Bangles
I Often Dream of Trains - Robyn Hitchcock
Zen Arcade - Husker Du
Stop Making Sense - Talking Heads
Private Dancer - Tina Turner
Lights Out - Peter Wolf
More Fun in the New World - X

Jeezus, and you a law professor. I feel overcome by the spirit of Frank Booth: "Wham? Fuck that shit! Husker Du!

nedludd said...

You have to understand that prior to enlisting in the Navy I had a safety pin through the eyebrow, and six earings in the left ear and two in the right (remember when people tried to figure out who was gay by the ear they had pierced? If I recall correctly in the US it was left ear straight and right gay, the UK was reversed) and mohawks of varied hues so pop was not my thing, but my guilty secret was I loved "The Safety Dance", particularly the video.

I mean how can you go wrong with a maypole, dancing midget, space cadet chick and midieval villagers? It had it all. Not to mention lyrics whose meaning was argued over endlessly. Anti-nuclear war? Safe sex? Nonsense?

http://www.80smusiclyrics.com/artists/menwithouthats.htm

Everybody now:

"Safety Dance
Say we can dance, we can dance
Everything's out of control
We can dance, we can dance
They're doing it from pole to pole
We can dance, we can dance
Everybody look at your hands
We can dance, we can dance
Everybody taken the chance"

Maxine Weiss said...

Scritti Politti; Frankie Goes to Hollywood "Relax" (Whatever happened to Holly Johnson?); English Beat/General Public; Starpoint, 5 Star, Atlantic Star, Pet Shop Boys, Style Council, Spandau Ballet, Kajagoogoo, Dave Edmonds, Johnny Hates Jazz...

Who am I missing?

Peace, Maxine

Simon said...

So that's where Saddam's WMD went - into Ann's record collection!

Sidenote:
Ann Althouse said...
"Oh, yeah, shorts! Althousian hypocrisy!

For some reason, I've always thought it would make a lot of sense to Germanize your last name when used to describe something thusly - i.e. "Althausian" rather than "Althousian."

nedludd said...

1984, the year that gave us PMRC. Thanks, Mrs Gore and Baker.

Also the year Michael Jackson imitated a Bic for Pepsi.

Maxine, you forgot Los Lobos, Big Country, Def Leppard (this is the year Rik Allen became one of the only one armed drummers), Everything but the Girl, Meat Puppets, The Honeydrippers, The Smiths (I have trouble forgiving the 80's for this), Dwight Yoakam, UB40, Wang Chung, Ultravox, Eurythmics, Thompson Twins, Madness (ties in to earlier Althouse, they had a "hit" with "Michael Caine"), Style Council, Echo and the Bunnymen, etc

What I remember most about the early 80s was MTV as an event. I graduated high school in 84 and can remember gathering in domeone's basement (later a dorm room) to just sit and watch MTV for the videos.

chuck b. said...

1984 was the year the first Smiths album came out. I was really into that album. I remember buying it in the import section at Tower Records with my own money that I got for a good report card. That album had songs to match all my 9th grade moods.

downtownlad said...

I have 400 songs in ipod for 80's music, and this is not one of them. There are so many better 80's bands.

- The B-52's
- REM
- U2
- The Clash & Big Audio Dynamite
- The Cars
- New Order
- The Police
- The Replacements
- The Cure
- Culture Club
- Blondie
- Guns and Roses
- The Stone Roses
- The Kinks

And then just in terms of pure pop trash, there are tons

- The Go-Go's with We Got the Beat. John Parr and St. Elmo's Fire. Hall and Oates with Rich Girl. Rick Springfield with Jessie's Girl, Laura Branigan with Gloria, Journey and Don't Stop Believing, Tommy Tutone with 867-5309, the J. Geils Band with Centerfold, The Hooters with And We Danced, etc.

Non-cheesy songs that kick ass: Tom Tom Club with Genius of Love, Kim Wile with Kids in American, Grandmaster Flash with White Lines, Joe Jackson with Steppin Out, anything by Howard Jones, Dire Straits with Money for Nothing, General Public with Tenderness, The Psychadelic Furs.

Really - there are 200 80's sons better than this.

J said...

"And it holds up over time so much better than that other song + video we enjoyed so much in the summer of 1984, when we moved to Madison, Wisconsin and got MTV for the first time: "The War Song." ("War war is stupid and people are stupid/And love means nothing in some strange quarters" -- remember that?)"

OK, maybe so. But you have to give Boy George some points for versatility - George Michael could never pull off the paunchy, middle aged garbage collector thing in a million years.

nedludd said...

Journey and Don't Stop Believing

You had me until this one. Journey? Why not just go for the ultimate suck and name Steve Perry's "Oh Sherry"?

Want better? Baltimoro, Taco, Wall of Voodoo, Timbuk 3, Nena, ABC, Human League, Vapors, Adam Ant, XTC, The Fixx, New Order, Joy Division, Dream Acadamy, Stray Cats, INXS, Samantha Fox (to tie in with boob blogging), The Most Important Band Ever (The Clash), Morris Day and the Time, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Ratt, A-Ha, Human League, Spandu Ballet, The Alarm, Falco, After the Fire, U2 (pre-deification), REM (prior to jumping the shark), Romeo Void, Johhny Hates Jazz

This doesn't even touch on the punks, GBH, Attila the Stockbroker, Circle Jerks, Wire, etc

Non-cheesy songs that kick ass:...Kim Wile with Kids in American, ... The Psychadelic Furs.

Kim Wild always looked like she would put out for one more lude, and as for the Furs, if you do the soundtrack to more than one John Hughes film you are by default cheesy.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Outrageous! "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" is bad-bad. Blech-blech!

What ever happened to he other Wham! guy? What the hell did he do, anyway? Did he play an instrument?

Why was George Michael so tan? Brits are not that tan, yet he was very tan. Something fishy about that.

But you are right, it's a memorable song - a classic, in its way, like "Maniac" or anything by Huey Lewis and The News.

I take issue with Downtownlad's classification of The Go-Gos as pop trash. Well, actually, maybe they are, but "Head Over Heels" is a pop masterpiece. Actually that's an overstatement. I really just like the bass line and the refrain and the piano bit at the beginning.

Now The Waitresses were cool. Remember them? "Christmas Wrapping" is the greatest Christmas song of all time.

downtownlad said...

Journey sucked in the 80's, but they get better with age - because they were so bad. Really. Go onto itunes and listen to them. You will kick when you hum along - but it's impossible not to.

I have all those other bands in my collection.

ginabina said...

I am, like, so in heaven! What a bitchin' list of music!

I, like, loooved the 80's! 1983 grad. We listened to a lot of Flashdance at the time. Duran, duran. And everything that has been mentioned here.

Soundtrack to Valley Girl is classic. "I'll stop the world and melt with you..."

downtownlad said...

And isn't it funny how many bands and singers in the 80's were gay. So much for the 80's being conservative. I always find this dichotomy interesting.

REM
Madonna (by association)
Culture Club
The Smiths
The B-52's
Wham
Queen
Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Judas Priest
Pet Shop Boys
Depeche Mode
Bronski Beat
Dead or Alive

I'm sure there are tons of others.

J. Peden said...

possibly '80's 33 1/3 albums/songs, which will rest beside me regardless:

Pet Shop Boys - What Have I Done to Deserve This, with Dusty Springfield
Styx - Mr. Roboto
Dexy's Midnight Riders - Come on Eileen, The Same For Everyone
Prince - 1999
Van Morrison - Did You Get Healed?
Bonnie Tyler - Faster Than the Speed of Night
Lacy J. Dalton - Unsatisfied, greatest song ever, but I have the only copy
Anything by Lacy J. Dalton
Elton John - Rocketman + David Bowie - Major Tim, inseparable ET's
Theme from Shaka Zulu
O.J.'s - Just To Satisfy Her
Muddy Waters - Rolling and Tumbling
Jimmy Reed
Nina Simone
Cyndi Lauper
Talking Heads - Home


Must quit - can't afford big enough tomb

chuck b. said...

I can't believe Wake Me Up Before You Go Go went on for very nearly four minutes. That's insane!

amba said...

nedludd, you're making me nostalgic. I loved 80s music. I was in my 40s and it was my second adolescence.

"Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" is the cultural phenomenon that, for me, ushered in the '80s, made me know that the wind had changed. It was the cultural equivalent of the election of Ronald Reagan: such a dramatic change in mood that it was really startling and attention-getting. And those white T-shirts with the big black lettering on them: Frankie says Relax. It was so refreshingly clean and bouncy and unsentimental, like the whole country was suddenly striding cheerfully off to work in a suit, all the hairy, bleary hippies sobered up and slapped and shaved and cleaned up so you wouldn't recognize them.

amba said...

But I liked Steve Perry's "Foolish Heart."

The Right Reverend Rabbi Judah said...

I'll just refer to the title of the post just below: "The right to die, not just for the terminally ill anymore". I'll take the punch-flavored kool aid, please. Before I go go.

Christopher Althouse said...

That's actually one of my least favorite songs of all time. I can't think of anything more annoying.

Ann Althouse said...

I've stirred up a lot of controversy, I see. I'm not saying other things in the 80s weren't good. For me, the main 80s thing I liked was Prince. I listened to Prince every day. But it was all on cassette. The 45s were bought because the kids played records on a little Fisher Price radio. But Chris weighs in and says he hated it. Well, why's it so scratched up then?

I agree that there were a lot of great songs back then, and a lot of bad stuff too. I always enjoy hearing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and "Billie Jean" and the early Madonna songs and The Cars.

bill said...

But Chris weighs in and says he hated it. Well, why's it so scratched up then?

First sentence explains the second? He was trying to kill it.

MadisonMan said...

Yes yes yes to The Cars -- although their best songs were late 70s. Their first album is a superb party album.

So many songs of the 80s were infectious like flesh-eating bacteria. Once they got into your skin you were doomed. Miss Me Blind. Come on Eileen. Take on Me.

knoxgirl said...

only one mention of Duran Duran...????

I thought I was in love w/ George Michael in 6th grade. Ah, to be young, carefree and clueless again.

I agree with dtl that Journey gets better the more time passes... I challenge anyone to go to you tube and watch their "Separate Ways" music video without smiling for a long time afterwards..

MadisonMan said...

I agree with dtl that Journey gets better the more time passes

It's hard to imagine how it could get worse. And I'll pass on listening to Steve Perry caterwauling on youtube, thankyouverymuch. I really can't think of an 80s singer with a more annoying voice than Mr. Perry.

knoxgirl said...

watch it, I promise you'll fall off your chair laughing, mute it iff you must. or if you must

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony said...

I agree that Wham had the pop song completely nailed. They weren't one of my favorites, but they were sort of like ABBA in that they had an uncanny knack of just making pleasant, easy to listen to songs.

Geez, what I remember from 1984: We used to go to the White Horse Inn almost every night for 65-cent tap beers, and often to a place called The Bottom Line. It used to be downstairs right next to. . . .damn. Can't recall the name of the place. It'll come to me eventually.

I just remember them playing Prince's 1999 and thinking that 1999 just seemed soooooo far off.

Telecomedian said...

Johnny Nucleo - George Michael was always tan because he's of Greek parents. He's naturally not-pasty.

Lots of mentions of fantastic 80s bands...God bless you all who still carry a torch for the Replacements like I do.

Haven't seen mention of The Tubes or Flesh for Lulu yet, so I will.

I occasionally deejay `80s nights as DJ Jake Ryan. The Perfect pop song of the 1980s...hmmm...Wham's Wake Me Up would be up there, but the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian" gets a good crowd, The Blow Monkeys "It Doesn't Have to Be That Way" gets the "Oh I haven't heard this song in YEARS!" vote, The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" does well, but, honestly...J. Peden nailed it earlier. Dexy's Midnight Runners. Come On Eileen. Never fails. People go ape over that tune.

tcd said...

Telecommedian,
Jake Ryan as in "Sixteen Candles" and Molly Ringwald?

Sipp,
It's like deja vu all over again!

JohnK said...

It is interesting how things change with perspective. Some music that seems so cool at the time is with the passage of time not so cool. Other music of course is just the opposite. Actually, I have to admit that Wake me Up is a pretty good pop song. At lot better than I thought it was when it came out.

The two acts that that really haven't aged well from the 80s are REM and Michael Jackson. REM is just dork rock. They have a few good songs in their IRS records (Driver 8, Pretty Persuasion, Radio Free Europe, Superman) but for every Driver 8, there is a Shiny Happy People, Stand The End of the World as We Know It; songs that now just grate like nails on a chalk board.

Pedophile issues aside, Michael just wasn’t' that good. He wanted to be Prince but wasn't cool enough. I listen to his records now and realize that when he hit puberty, he lost his clear beautiful child voice he had with the Jackson 5, but never really got an adult voice either. Quincy Jones dealt with the highness of his voice by just having Jackson grunt everything and pick off the notes. It really sounds awful. Yes, a song like Billie Jean is a really well crafted record, but Michael Jackson really can't sing. He sounds terrible.

Sanjay said...

I salute you for your courage. I'd not have admitted to saving this '45.

And Johnk: Michael Jackson can't sing? _What!?_ C'mon, the guy has talent oozing out of him. OK, he's a nutcase, and in fact I regretted the image in that last sentece even as I typed the period. And, sure, he's not going to belt out, say, "Lush Life." But MJ can sing.

JohnK said...

I listen to the records and I don't think Jackson has a lick of talent. The only thing I hear that is any good on Thriller is the production values and that is Quincy Jones. I don't care that he is a nut. Jackson is the most overrated artist in the last 40 years.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Telecomedian said...

TCD - Yup, the same Jake Ryan. That's why I picked the name.

Anthony said...

Actually, I find this whole thread kind of odd because I never really bought 45s. I bought whole albums. That was probably because I came of age when Album Oriented Rock really hit its stride. I listened to WAPL in Oshkosh (still there, too).

When I wanted a single, I think we just recorded it to cassette off of someone else's album. That was kind of the thing with my crowd: "Who's going to break down and buy the album so the rest of us can tape the good parts?"

nedludd said...

REM is just dork rock. They have a few good songs in their IRS records (Driver 8, Pretty Persuasion, Radio Free Europe, Superman) but for every Driver 8, there is a Shiny Happy People, Stand The End of the World as We Know It; songs that now just grate like nails on a chalk board.

Quick rule of thumb, if you can understand what Michael Stipe is saying the song probably sucks.

Journey sucked in the 80's, but they get better with age - because they were so bad. Really. Go onto itunes and listen to them.

I won't live long enough for Journey to be tolerable. BTW, who do you think was more earnest, Steven Perry or Michael Bolton?

David Manus said...

Is George Michael wearing a pro-life T-shirt in this vid? Or was that before the anti-abortion lobby co-opted the phrase "Choose Life?"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n7Aiic3AgM

Kev said...

"What ever happened to he other Wham! guy? What the hell did he do, anyway? Did he play an instrument? "

I always thought it would be funny to have a band made up of the lesser-known halves of famous duos: Andrew Ridgeley (the other "Wham!" guy), John Oates, Curt Smith from Tears for Fears, and even Art Garfunkel (who sings very well, but obviously doesn't have nearly as much fame as Paul Simon). There would be no lead vocals, only background ones.

Ann Althouse said...

docweasel: I wondered at the time whether that was supposed to be an anti-abortion T-shirt. It just didn't make any sense for it to be, but it added to the overall strangeness of the thing, which amba described well upthread.

David Manus said...

The much maligned Wikipedia to the rescue!

Hamnett founded the Katharine E. Hamnett clothier in 1979. In the early 1980s Hamnett's oversized t-shirts with large block letter slogans were adopted by pop bands including Wham!, with her "CHOOSE LIFE" slogans prominently displayed in the music video for "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go", and "FRANKIE SAY RELAX", adopted by Frankie Goes to Hollywood with the popularity of their hit song "Relax"; the latter also popularized shirts with the slogans "Frankie Say War Hide Yourself" and "Frankie Say Arm The Unemployed".

Notably, the "Choose Life" slogan, which in the context of the day was directed at drug abuse and suicide, has since been adopted by the anti-abortion movement, even appearing on Florida license plates.

So there we go. The net is so edumakating.