Thursday, March 20, 2008
A 60's singer, an '80s song, a '90s video. Guaranteed ironic fascination for 2008.
A few weeks ago, before moving, I used a decade old copy of Billboard's Top 40 Hits as a guide and downloaded dozens of songs by pop stars underrepresented in my music collection. Now I have more CD-Rs with names like "'80s Cars/Wang Chung/Paula Abdul mix" and "Animals 1964-1969" and life is better for it. While debating whether to keep Cyndi Lauper's "I Drove All Night" (bite me, I'm unemployed), I remembered Roy Orbison's version and checked youtube to see if the video really did feature Jason Priestly and Jennifer Connelly (back when their respective hair and chest inspired awe and disbelief) canoodling in the desert on various modes of transportation. My memory was correct, but what surprised me was the bumpada-bumpada bass sequencer underneath Roy's past-prime warble and "uh-huh, yeaaaah"'s. Thanks to American Recordings, MTV Unplugged and the niche market they spawned, its unlikely we'll ever see a pop fogey brought back in such a garishly "modern" context again; Santana's the only such success of late that wasn't merely crassy class, and that was almost a decade ago.
An example of why this sucks? Aerosmith's Big Ones, which I also recently downloaded. Rocks is the godhead, but I've got a lot of love for the second commercial heyday of these decrepit transvestites. Along with the power ballads and dramatic descriptions of molestations consensual and otherwise, they had a tremendous, nasty, FIERCELY rocking track about fucking in an elevator...and it went top 20! The song even ends with a trumpet and a capella harmonies! Now, if they want to get some attention without calling Diane Warren, they have to make an album of "classic blues" tracks. Zzzzz. I already have classic blues tracks, I want Aerosmith to take me to the other side! Take me to the other side, where Desmond Child, John Kalodner and a synth-horn section wait patiently. Even a band named Velvet Revolver, a band with SLASH in it, can't reach these heights today, thanks to their choice of Weiland as a singer. He got the clothes right (love that Night Porter vibe) but he's so 90s-glummy a vocalist that I keep hoping Ian Astbury will bash him over the head and the lead them into "Fire Woman." But that schmuck's too busy with the 21st Century Doors. Christ.
Ignoring extremely awesome yet too-self-aware-for-prime-time bands like Eagles Of Death Metal and Electric Six, two acts on this planet give me hope for the future of gaudy 80s feel-good rock. One is AC/DC, who've claimed that their next album will be a DOUBLE CD. They can't fill all that with just Brian Johnston's incomprehensible gargling, so why not some RAP CAMEOS?! I'm down! Did somebody play the band that remix of Nelly's "Work It"? Don't get Rick Rubin on this, though, he had his chance.
My other hope against hope is Taylor Hicks. While this detested American Idol winner can't really rawk, his success should have made Clive Davis realize that AMERICA WANTS BAR-ROCK BACK! Down with soul patch, up with soul patrol! Give this man's man some "Simply Irresistible" jam and watch it skyrocket to the toppermost of the poppermost, where hopefully it will inspire other aging men of song to loosen up and give us the kind of Spuds McKenzie trash that can dignify a decade like this. Seth Rogen knows what time it is! Why doesn't anyone else?