Every time I see you falling
I get down on my knees and pray
U.S. 7″ promo copy of Bizarre Love Triangle
Bizarre Love Triangle is one of my all-time favorite songs and the reason why I fell in love with New Order. If I had a dollar for every mix tape I started with Bizarre Love Triangle, I’d be vacationing in St. Bart’s right now. It’s a great song to listen to, a great song to dance to, and it has lyrics that grab ahold of you with all the beauty, turmoil, and confusion of young love. (Did I mention I really love this song?)
New Order’s fourth album, Brotherhood
Released in 1986, Bizarre Love Triangle was a single from New Order’s fourth album, Brotherhood. It reached No. 56 on the UK Singles chart and No. 4 on the US Dance Club Songs chart. In 1995, a new mix of the song, included on The Best of New Order album, cracked the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 98. Continue reading
So bad it makes him cry
The Police’s hit single Don’t Stand So Close to Me dealt with the subject of teacher-student affairs long before they became common fodder for TV specials and Internet headlines. The song was inspired by Sting’s experience as an English teacher before he became famous (although he denied ever having an affair with a student while he was a teacher) as well as his admiration for Vladimir Nabokov’s classic Lolita. The novel tells the story of a literature professor in his late 30s – “the old man in that book by Nabokov” referred to in the song – who becomes obsessed with a 12-year-old girl.
Don’t Stand So Close to Me was released in 1980 as a single from The Police’s third studio album, Zenyatta Mondatta. It was a No. 1 hit and the best-selling single of 1980 in the United Kingdom. In the United States, it peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Continue reading
I’m never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
It’s impossible to have a conversation about 80s pop music without including George Michael. Between his time with Wham! and his solo career, the man absolutely owned the decade and is one of the most successful recording artists of all time because of it.
Careless Whisper was the second single from Wham!’s second album, Make It Big, released in 1984. The song was a follow-up to Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, the duo’s first No. 1 hit in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Even though it appeared on Make It Big and was credited to “Wham! featuring George Michael” in a handful of countries, including the U.S., Careless Whisper was George’s first solo effort. Unlike most Wham! singles, the song was co-written with the other half of Wham!, Andrew Ridgeley. Continue reading
She turns herself ’round and she smiles and she says
“This is it, that’s the end of the joke”
I was twelve when the Pretty in Pink movie came out in 1986, and I actually fell in love harder with Richard Butler’s voice on the song of the same name than I did with Andrew McCarthy’s irresistible grin. (And that’s saying something. Andrew McCarthy’s grin is pretty irresistible.) It was the first time I had heard the Psychedelic Furs, but it only made me want to hear more.
In the years since, I’ve become a huge fan of the Furs. Speaking of Richard Butler’s voice, I can listen to it for hours, and if you ever get the opportunity to see the band live, I have one word for you: go! And while I’ve grown to like some of their songs more than Pretty in Pink, you never forget your first. Plus, I love the Pretty in Pink movie, and there’s just something about hearing the opening notes of the song that bring you right back to 1986 and watching Molly Ringwald’s character Andie getting ready for school in the first scenes of the movie. Continue reading
Give no mind to what they say
It doesn’t matter anyway
I was only 7 years old when the Go-Go’s debut album, Beauty and the Beat, and its first single, Our Lips Are Sealed, were released in 1981, but I still remember standing in the middle of a department store begging my mother to buy me the record. The cover art – with the Go-Go’s wearing towels and face cream – was mesmerizing, and it was impossible not to start moving and singing along immediately upon hearing those first notes of Our Lips Are Sealed.
From that first song, the Go-Go’s made a huge impression on me when I was younger. They made me want to start my own all-girl band (until years later when I realized I had absolutely no music talent). They were more relatable somehow than many other music acts at the time – like they could be your older sister and her friends, only much, much cooler. Continue reading
Debbie Gibson‘s Electric Youth Tour was one of my first concerts and the first one I went to unchaperoned. My best friend and I, 16 at the time, got tickets for the Philadelphia stop slated for August 1, 1989 and waited anxiously all summer for the date to arrive. We were huge fans of Debbie’s since Out of the Blue – we listened to her albums (on cassette, of course), had Electric Youth perfume on our dressers, and would have worn hats just like Debbie if we had any prayer of pulling it off.
Debbie embarked on the Electric Youth tour in 1989 to promote her second album of the same name. The album produced four singles, including the No. 1 hit Lost in Your Eyes. Continue reading
Remember yesterday, walking hand in hand
Love letters in the sand, I remember you
Skid Row’s I Remember You is 80s power ballad perfection. I don’t know what this song reminds me of more – teenage heartbreak, lead singer Sebastian Bach‘s impossibly perfect hair, or the frustration at having absolutely no idea what the lyrics “love letters in the sand” actually were in the days before you could simply Google them.
Released in 1989, I Remember You was the third single off of the group’s debut album, right after 18 and Life scared us all straight. It reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and perhaps more importantly, according to Sebastian Bach in a 2007 interview, it was the No. 1 prom song in 1990. Continue reading
I drink Brass Monkey and I rock well
I got a Castle in Brooklyn (that’s where I dwell)
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the Beastie Boys‘ debut album Licensed to Ill. Like so many others, I’ve been obsessed with this entire album since 1986, and I always come back to Brass Monkey as one of my top tracks.
Brass Monkey was the second single released from Licensed to Ill with Posse in Effect as the B side. The song reached No. 48 on the Billboard Hot 100, which surprised me; I would have guessed it had charted higher. I remember this song being huge among my circle of friends when Licensed to Ill first came out. Of course, we were teenagers at the time, and I’m sure anything involving partying and alcohol seemed incredibly cool and intriguing, even if we had absolutely no idea at the time exactly what Brass Monkey was. (It was long thought the Beasties were rapping about a combination of malt liquor and orange juice, but in a 2014 interview, Mike D challenged everything we know to be real and true in this world by stating it was actually about a pre-mixed cocktail of dark rum, vodka, and orange juice. Say what?) Continue reading
Some strange man is on the telephone
He keeps telling me my baby ain’t home
In the age of smartphone technology, kids today will never experience the true satisfaction of a phone’s click as it slams down into its cradle. New Edition’s Mr. Telephone Man brings us back to a day when your phone weighed as much as the nightstand it was sitting on. Before New Kids on the Block captured the hearts of teenage girls everywhere, Ralph, Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, and Mike were the boy band that would inspire all future boy bands.
In Mr. Telephone Man, New Edition, which would later spawn Bobby Brown’s solo career and Bell Biv Devoe, laments about what must be a faulty telephone line, “because when I dial my baby’s number, I get a click every time.” So young, so naive. We just wanted to scoop them up and hug them and promise to answer every single one of their calls. Continue reading
Cyndi Lauper‘s She’s So Unusual was one of my very first albums, and the Fun Tour that supported it was my first concert. Cyndi’s first major headlining tour lasted from November 1983 through December 1984, covering North America and three stops in Europe.
I saw the September 6, 1984 show at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia. Philly natives The Hooters opened for Cyndi. Because I had actually seen her in concert, I was elected president of my town’s unofficial chapter of the Cyndi Lauper Fan Club, which consisted of me and about four of my friends. I took my duties very seriously at the time (there was a handwritten newsletter and lots of Cyndi buttons pinned on denim), and I still remember that tour living up to its name – just a really fun time with lots and lots of energy. Continue reading