POP GOES THE DECADE- A totally rad look back at the glorious 80's and all the flicks, fashions, tunes, and TV shows that made the decade so cool and memorable in the first place. Like, for sure!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lucky Star by Madonna

   

     This was the one, folks.  This is classic Madonna all the way, in all her Boy Toy glory.  This was the video that truly got her noticed, and put her first album firmly in the public eye.  She only went up from here.  "Lucky Star" is magnificent 80's synth dance pop- this was just one of the first of many club anthems Madonna would propel into pop culture.  "Lucky Star" was Madonna's first Top 5 hit, and the first of a record-breaking string of 16 consecutive Top Ten hits on the Billboard charts.

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Whisper To a Scream (Birds Fly) by Icicle Works.

   
     The summer of 1984 saw the release of this New Wave gem.  "Whisper To a Scream (Birds Fly) by Icicle Works, peaked at #37 on the US Billboard charts and went on to become a legendary example of 80's New Wave.  The song would be covered by SoHo for the "Scream" soundtrack in 1996.


Friday, August 31, 2012

The Blues Brothers


     Where to even begin with "The Blues Brothers"?  It's just about as perfect of a movie as there ever could be.  Everything about this movie works.  Dan Akroyd and John Belushi, for one.  I cannot imagine anybody else in these roles.  They were born for these characters.  The script is wickedly sharp and witty. There are lines wizzing past here that Groucho Marx himself would heartily approve of.  It's got one of the greatest car chases in film history. Not to mention countless car crashes, and the utter and astonishing destruction of an entire mall.  It's a madcap mix of hilarious comedy, mind-blowing action scenes, out-of-this-world musical numbers, unforgettable cameos- Aretha Franklin, Steven Spielberg, Twiggy, James Brown, Carrie Fisher (who steals the damn show!), John Candy, Cab Calloway,  Bill Murray... need I go on?  The plot is basically this- two brothers, one just out of prison (Belushi), are on a mission from God to save their childhood orphanage.  Seems simple enough.  But Mr. John Landis has plenty of tricks up his sleeve here.  This is truly a monumental piece of filmmaking.  It's really that good.



     "The Blues Brothers" has achieved legendary cult status, and is easily one of the most beloved comedies of all time.  It's epic comedy- director John Landis really tops himself here with the sheer spectacle of it all.  It's truly outrageous.  "The Blues Brothers" phenomenon is quite big. It's amazing that it all started as a 4 minute sketch on Saturday Night Live, and is arguably the most famous film ever adapted from an SNL skit.  It's a timeless comedy.  It's truly just as funny and fresh today as it was back in 1980.



      This film borders on genius.  It really does.  If you have not experienced "The Blues Brothers", I highly suggest you hightail outta here right now and rent it.  Because I honestly don't know how anybody couldn't be thoroughly entertained by this movie.  This is one that I can watch a hundred times and never get tired of it.  There is not a dull moment to be found anywhere in "The Blues Brothers"- a sad reminder of classic comedies.  It's gleefully destructive, exuberantly infectious.  It's impossible not to be one over by this movie.  That's really all there is to say about it.


   


Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Know There's Something Going On by Frida



     As of February of 1982, super-group ABBA was officially on break.  Frida wanted to branch out a bit on her own, and recorded "I Know There's Something Going On" for a solo project.  Attempting to shy away from ABBA's extremely successful but extremely pop sound, Frida instead went for a more rough and 80s approach.  She collaborated with Genesis frontman Phil Collins, who produced and played drums on the track.

     Released in the fall of 1982, the song became an instant smash hit.  Eventually selling over 3.5 million copies, it hit #1 around the world and reached #13 on the US charts.  The very chic and stylish video quickly became a staple on the new and hot MTV music video channel. This song hasn't lost one ounce of its cool factor.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

RETRO ALBUM REVIEW- Thriller by Michael Jackson

 


      What can possibly be said today about Michael Jackson's iconic "Thriller" album that hasn't already been said to death?  Nothing.  It was simply THE album of the 80's- we all owned a copy, admit it.  Released in November of 1982, this ground-breaking album would go on to garner an amazing seven top 10 singles and currently remains the best selling album of all time.

     Michael Jackson pretty much owned 1983.  From his groundbreaking "moonwalk" on the Motown 25th Anniversary special in May to the release of the iconic "Thriller" video in December- MJ was everywhere.  Often cited as Jackson's greatest album of all time, it's simply a must-have for any serious music collector or pop culture lover.

     There's never a dull moment to be found on "Thriller".  It manages to be all around entertaining, and crosses all musical genres and boundaries.  Michael Jackson was able to transcend all race, age, and labels with this album as well.  This album had humongous mass appeal - it really didn't matter who you were. Everybody had this record.  He became the King of Pop with this album.  Very much like Madonna and Prince, Michael Jackson put out great albums in a decade where there was tons of great songs, but lots of one-hit wonders. This is a great album.  "Beat It", "Wanna Be Startin' Something", "Billie Jean", and "Thriller" are white-hot tracks, and will be packing dance floors all over the galaxy for thousands of years to come.  It's timeless. Epic.  This album WAS the 1980s. "Thriller" is Jackson's triumph- forever iconic, influential, ground-breaking, and immortal.

Atomic by Blondie

   

     A top 40 US hit and a #1 UK hit for Blondie in 1980, "Atomic" is one of their most searing and influential songs.  The video infamously has Debbie wearing a trash bag, and it offers a cameo by deceased 80s supermodel Gia.  This song completely epitomizes Blondie and the time period.  Debbie Harry oozes coolness, and this video is white-hot.
     Blondie is, in my humble opinion, one of the all-time cool bands.  Effortlessly and boldly mixing new wave, disco, and rock, Blondie churned out a rather impressive string of hits through the late 70's and early 80's.  The incomparable and stunning Debbie Harry and crew were a huge presence then, and would become a huge influence on Madonna as well.  Blondie rocks.
   

Pump Up the Volume by MARRS.

   
     Regarded as a milestone of 80s British house music, "Pump Up The Volume" by MARRS dominated radio in 1987 upon its release.  Reaching #13 on the Billboard US charts and #1 on Billboard's dance charts, the song made an impact.  It sounds as if it could be recorded and released today- it's quite ahead of its time.  This would be the only hit single from MARRS.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Genius of Love by Tom Tom Club

   

      "Genius of Love" by Tom Tom Club, was released in 1981 and became a huge #1 Dance/Club smash, even peaking at #2 on the US Rap/Hip-Hop Charts.  The song would be Tom Tom Club's only US Billboard hit, peaking at #31- although it would go on to become one of the most sampled tracks of the 80s. This song instantly reminds me of summer whenever I hear it.  It's pure, joyous 80s dance pop, and this is a perfect tune to blast on a warm summer evening with the top down.


The Lost Boys



     Sam and Michael (played by Corey Haim and Jason Patric) are two teenage brothers living in Phoenix, AZ who's parents have just divorced.  Mom takes the two boys and moves to Santa Carla, California, crashing with eccentric and somewhat grouchy grandpa.  The sleepy little town just happens to be known as the murder capital of the world, and even scarier than that, their mom (memorably played by Dianne Wiest) is dating again. Yikes! On top of all that, they soon find something else to worry about. While younger brother Sam is busy trying to find an MTV hookup and checking out the comic book collection in town, older brother Michael meets gypsyesque Star, played by Jami Gertz.  Star belongs to a gang of forever-young, teen punks obsessed with Jim Morrison, led by a fantastic Kiefer Sutherland (in a star-making role).  Michael becomes further and further involved with the mysterious gang, and soon finds out that they're all vampires.


     Probably one of the most-loved movies of the 80s, "The Lost Boys" is not only a superb time-capsule of the decade, but often considered one of the greatest modern vampire tales ever to hit the big screen.  Joel Schumacher's teen vampire flick completely epitomizes the 1980s in all their glory- and was the first film to put both Corey Feldman and Corey Haim together.  Although tongue-in-cheek are far from actually "scary"- "The Lost Boys" is still known as a horror classic.  It definitely has a more fun approach, as it successfully walks the tightrope between schlocky teen horror and comedy.  It's a perfect popcorn movie, and it holds up pretty good today.


     Surprisingly, "The Lost Boys" is filled with some great performances.  Every one involved seems completely right for the part- and this may be Haim's finest hour on screen.  Jason Patric is perfect for his role,  Barnard Hughes steals the show as cantankerous Grandpa, Dianne Wiest is simply delightful as the boys frazzled-but-determined mom, and even Alex Winter (Bill from "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure") makes a cameo as one of the undead.  And let's not forget the Frog Brothers, played by Jamison Newlander and Corey Feldman.


      It may seem a bit dated today, but after watching it again recently I was surprised at how well it still holds up.  I like that it doesn't take itself too seriously- there are elements of humor, horror, and good old-fashioned camp running gleefully throughout.  "The Lost Boys" is one of the best remembered and most loved films of the 80s- it's slick, it's stylish, and it's a huge cult classic today.  Whether or not this is mostly from the films' own merits or pure pop nostalgia, I can't say. Probably both. Doesn't matter though.  It's still darn fun to watch.


     And one more thing.... there are some definite homo-erotic undertones running throughout "The Lost Boys".  First of all, why does Corey Haim's character have a poster of a rather seductive looking Rob Lowe in his closet?  Go back and watch the movie.  You'll see it.  Trust me.



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vienna by Ultravox

   
     "Vienna", released on January 15 of 1981 by British New-Wave band Ultravox, would become the band's signature song.  The song was hit in the UK, it would spend 4 consecutive weeks at #2 on the UK charts and would also win 'Single of the Year' at the '81 Brit Awards.  It's a somewhat underrated track, but is widely loved by 80's purists.  Myself included.  This is classic synth pop, kids. It's dreamy, it's other-worldly, it's magnificent.