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!

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.