El Debarge – Rhythm of the Night
They sure don’t make ’em like they used to. Back in 1986, you had smooth brothers crooning about romance and nights you won’t forget and dancing until the morning light. It really left something to the imagination. In fact, people back then didn’t have sex. They just danced all night long. That is how you did things back then. People were happy. Then comes LL Cool J, with his songs about girls with big behinds and 900 numbers in his name, and all of a sudden we’ve got to buy deodorants, brush our teeth, and wax Brazilian. Sometimes you gotta do what’s best for the team, James.
Bel Biv Devoe – Poison
Ten bucks says either Bel, Biv, or Devoe heard Bobby Brown singing the hook to this song. Devoe prompts, “Bobby, what’s that you’re singing?” Mr. Brown just shyly cocks his head, “Ahh, thats nothing”, and continues to look out the window, his eyes full of hope. Later, Bel hears Bobby singing in the shower. “Bobby, that’s sounding good! What do you call it?” A delayed response from Bobby: “I dunno, it kinda needs work.” Finally, Biv walks in on Bobby with his notebook. “Whatcha working on?” Bobby swiftly closes his notebook. “It’s personal.” he responds, as he takes off his glasses. Next thing you know, New Edition was over, and Bel, Biv, Devoe was born. When they came into the studio, a tape was still in the machine. Apparently Bobby Brown was sneaking in the studio late at night and working on new material. The label on the tape? Poison by Bobby Brown (AND NO ONE ELSE).
Console – Gulls Galore
Fuck I, Robot. This song sounds like the soundtrack to a movie with AI with no EI. That’s artificial intelligence with no Emotional Intelligence. Yeah, sure, ‘bots can do math real good and stuff, but what good is that if they’re gonna be balling their eyes out every three seconds because there’s no way you can diffuse their emotional neediness because they’ve already computed all the possible bullshit answers you’d tell them just to get them in the sack. If you think your girl participates in circular logic, these bots fucking created that shit. Don’t front.
Boyz II Men – Motownphilly
This song is almost DOA when you hear the producer say “It don’t matter, just don’t curse.” You reach for the stop button, then a little something called New Jack Swing enters the body and crosses the blood-brain barrier intact. The media called it the Agent Orange of 1991, where troops of youngsters were exposed to the harmonious vocal stylings of four handsome African-Americans, kickin’ it just for you. This is the kind of music you played at your sleepover, then your dad is all like “There will be no Gangster Rap in this house!” Then your friend Steve stands up, “Chill, Mr. D! They ain’t bringing it like that!” and then Steve is no longer welcome in your house.
Kool Keith – The Girls Don’t Like the Job
Oh man. If there was ever a song to calm down the white anxiety of “Would Ice Cube think I was cool, despite not having not having successfully ‘killed at will’? Would Xzibit pimp my Escalade if he knew I got it from my dad’s dealership, and not dealt drugs or rapped like those who made it fashionable? Do I really have to listen to Ice-T, star of Leprechaun in the Hood?”, this is it. Kool Keith makes mundane white culture fun again, or at least he is more proficient at it than all of us and that’s why he can derive so much pleasure from it, while we’re all trying to Coolatta ourselves to death from Mike Meyers and Hoobastank.
Dizzee Rascal – I Luv U
This limey makes getting a 15 year old girl pregnant sound like it’s a gang initiation. Some people have to run across the street during rush hour, others have to turn off their headlights then murder whoever flashes their lights, performing their civic duty. In East London, some gang member knocked up someones little sister, and when confronted with it, he’s like “Yeah, no shit? It’s the coooolest!” and not atypical with gang mentality, the fad spread like wildfire throughout the gang community. It makes sense, when you don’t have much, you can always pawn off your possessions, or in this case, your family member’s psychological and financial stability for the rest of their lives. Put down the guns, Pick up a book.
The Stampeders – Sweet City Woman
“Put that fucking banjo, DOWN, you fucking asshole! No, it doesn’t sound good! Put it the fuck down!”, then some engineer picks it up and begins playing in the back room, some intern starts humming a bassline, some homeless guy starts hitting some plastic barrels, and the most badass 13 year-old ever with flip-down lazer shades does the solo on strat his dad just bought him (and resides across the street, shooting his son the devil horns and flailing tongue during each solo). They’re all looking out the window singing about whatever passes by the window and this kinda homely, but used-to-be-attractive, woman passes by and the guy starts singing like, “Oh, won’t this be cute,” and then she stops and stands there, shyly cocks her head, swinging her purse, and then the singer keeps looking at the dude humming the bassline like, “What the fuck do I do now? I was just kidding lady.” A small crowd envelops the destined duo, all staring at the singer like “Seriously, look at this lady, you’re all she’s got right now,” and shoot daggers when the singer continues to look at his newfound bandmates with ocular requests for assistance now that he realizes he’s way in over his head and wishes to end the song. But then she continues to stand there well past the awkward pauses where everyone else left, like “Ok, you got my attention, cassanova, now sing to me about pleasures of the flesh.” The singer guy starts playing an acoustic version of “The Humpty Dance” which digs him even deeper, because he heard a guy doing it once and everyone groaned just at the prospect of it, but this frumpy 30-something found it irresistibly charming and now assumed the singer had many black friends. Long story short, they’re both dead. And they died unhappy.
Boston – Feelin’ Satisfied
While technically not an 80s song, it was ahead of its time. The lyrics are completely ridiculous, the verses are the simplest blues scales, but the hook is simply amazing. The Ooo are ya feelin’ satisfied make you stand back and makes you hope you were conceived to this song. I checked my dad’s record collection, but he probably threw it out because he simply cannot afford any more kids.
Expose – Point of No Return
I first heard this on STAR 93.7FM during one of their 80s mega mixes and the production on this track is absolutely marvelous. There are over a dozen tricks of production overkill that somehow morphed into a giant robot that was born to destroy Miami for unleashing a track that proved the industry wrong that a mountain of coke and a few computers could create the sonic equivalent of an erotic thriller. The guitar solo was added to give the detective extra time to cruise around, trying to convince himself there will be other suspects to sleep with, before he finally busts the bitch.
Extreme – Play With me
We all know this song as the one from Bill & Teds when all the historical figures are flipping out at the mall, but it really needs to be heard in its proper context. That context happens to be the dream where you and your friends have exactly two minutes and twenty-four seconds to shoplift all you can while the security changes shifts. Youre throwing DVDs to your friends because you know you’re pressed for time, and the new kid is trying to find the magnet that will set off the alarm and you get to slap him because theres no way youre gonna find them all in time. At 2:25, the security guards bum rush the store and you knock over displays trying to trip them, then you jam the door with one of the DVDs (you should have already picked which one), and flip ’em off from your friend’s speeding Oldsmobile.
Pulp – Common People
There is a girl I know who claims this is their theme song, which might be the most unapologetically conceited thing I have ever heard. Yeah, it’s anthemic and danceable but its ultimately about the upper-class co-opting working class values to fulfill their vapid lifestyle. I didnt want to pry at their reasons for picking this particular song for her dreary, emotionally-draining sitcom, probably because the response would be something like explanations are the opium of the masses.
Bonnie Tyler – Holding Out for a Hero
How suspenseful did this song make that crazy tractor race in Footloose? Bacons totally clutching, AGAIN! I prefer the other usage of this song, in Short Circuit 2, where Johnny Five is careening down the boardwalk, bleeding battery acid all over like he gives a fuck, and sporting a makeshift mohawk, which means he hates his dad. He gets his wheely-ass up on a crane and says in a demonic tone, “OSCAR! I AM REALLY PISSED OFF!”. The song fits perfectly because all those ten-year old kids in the audience were sick of asking for robots that couldn’t even teach them the words they really needed to punch up their college apps.
The Strokes – I Cant Win
Something about Julian Casablancas writing about not getting laid on his second album seems a bit queer. He talks about going to bars and getting shot down like he can’t get an intern from SPIN to commute from central New Jersey at 2 a.m. to ravage him proper. I find that even more disloyal to fans than when rock stars start writing songs about stardom, like when Vanilla Ice decided to ink up the ol’ feather and contemplate on the times he spent with the Ninja Turtles. Yeah chief, like I can identify with that.
Grandmaster Flash – White Lines
I like this song because most people in this day and age listen to it ironically. That’s right, they’re probably out on the slopes before the song even starts. He even adds an echo to when he shouts “Don’t Do It!”, which means if he could say it more than once at that point in time and space, he would. He even wrote it in the title of the song, and probably has it tattooed on his arm somewhere. He needs to join the Girls Gone Wild crew, and right before some girl attempts the Daytona 500 for an 8-ball of Cascade, he’ll jump out of the closet and give her a t-shirt with the aforementioned advice and a stern look.
Real Life – Send Me an Angel
For some reason, this euro-trash synth pop became the song for all occasions in the late 80s. When Cru Jones and Lori Loughlin had to hijack the dance floor and court each other with BMX bikes, what song what there? When Fred Savage had to cart his retarded brother across the country to win a video game championship to try and reunite his parents, who answered the call? When Jason Bateman obliterated the wrestling competition at his college because he is a fucking werewolf, who was there to pat him on the back?
Air France – Beach Party
Usually after I’m done pleasuring myself to icanhazcheeseburger, and the non-primal brain state returns, I often wonder of what use the emotional response to ‘cute’ is. What good has ‘cuteness’ done to evolution? The only think I can think of is they’re fucking adorable, there’s nothing else to it, and something internally wants us to protect it, hold it, and maybe lick it. I don’t know who Air France is, but all I’m saying is I would shoot predators from a helicopter to ensure they keep making songs like this.
Blondie – Atomic
Some of us weren’t even born when this song came out, and were introduced to it either one of two ways: You saw junk-sick Ewan McGregor commit statutory rape to an awful Brtish cover of this song, or you were busy trying to create a race riot in Little Havana in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Either way, you were instantly hooked. But try to remember to leave the needle in for a few minutes so you don’t lose any drugs. Don’t worry, Crash Bandicoot will still be there when you wake up.
The Clash – Janie Jones
This is Jacko here, to tell you how life is in late 70s London. We here, we like Rock ‘n Roll. Ever heard of it? Didnt think so. You know what we like to do? A little something called getting stoned. If you dont know what that means, well, I ain’t gonna tell ya. And I like a girl! A girl named Janie Jones. I’m also rather dissatisfied with my job situation. You yanks think you really have something to sing about, but if you haven’t experienced late 70s London, you missed out on a brief glimpse of where evolution will bring us.
Junior Senior – Chicks & Dicks
This song is pretty hip, and is only like one step away from Fatboy Slim, which I am forbidden to play. If Fatboy Slim did heroin, he’d be in this list quicker than a witty retort from Cody on Step by Step. But the fates have it that Fatboy Slim doesnt hate his life or doesn’t want to get addicted to the most addictive substance on the planet. If the indie scene were an 80s horror flick, which it is (oh, snap!), Vincent Price would bust out of the DJ booth shaped like a coffin, grinding with Nico and Andy Warhol, singing with impending doom, “They’re dying to get in! Hahahahahahahahahahahahah.”
The Stooges – No Fun
I wish more people were honest like Iggy. Iggy just tells it like it is, like “Hey, really, if your’e looking for a good time, look somewhere else. I’m very boring, indecisive, and I haven’t really found a way to entertain myself.” To which you would (hopefully) say, “Y’know what, buddy? I think you’re fun. You’re a great guy. Put on some clean clothes, tell your mom you’re going out, and well go find some trouble to get into. Next thing you know, the guy’s drinking lemonade and watching Friends. You are a good friend to have.
Primal Scream – Kill All Hippies
If conservatism was always this funky, there would be no war. I predicted in the earlier days if Cheney dropped the Harlem Shake during the Republican Convention, Bush would just freak out and be all like, “Stop that! Stop that dancing right now! Dick! Jesus Christ, stop it! Just stop it!” and he would run over and pull the plug but Cheney’s newfound urban-ness provided enough energy to auto-tune every TV in the nation from the liberal media elite to the greatest footwork and limber(ty) displayed by an in-office VP since Gore did softshoe. And Kerry wanted to be the next ‘black’ president. Please. Bring it on? It has already been broughten. Suckas just got served.
TechnoTronic – Pump Up the Jam
I still can’t believe Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez are brothers.
Cyndi Lauper – Good Enough
This song still gives me the creeps, because it was played at a point in The Goonies when you realized these kids were in way over their heads. It didn’t help any my uncle was in real estate, and kept muttering, “Those little shits are fucking up a perfectly legal land-dispute conclusion. Fuck them.” When Mikey’s dad tears up the deed, which has been brought to the beach for some reason, my uncle punched a hole in the wall in the perfect shape of a fist holding a beer bottle. When holidays get boring, me and my cousins go below the deck and whisper, “This is our time! This is our time down here!”, my uncle flips out and is often asked to leave. Then we tell our fat cousin (IN-LAW) that if he doesn’t do the Truffle Shuffle, Santa will die.
Eve – Cowboy (Fatboy Slim Remix)
Possibly the most fun had dropping the n-bomb since the Manhattan Project. I don’t understand why producers don’t edit out shout outs to the original producers while doing the remix. I mean they don’t necessarily have to insert a vocoder voice saying ‘Fatboy Slim’ instead of ‘Swiss Beatz’, because that’s just lame and just screams ‘I’m not talented enough to have the original artist redub that portion’. They could do some Sneakers shit and find 3 instances of her saying all the syllables but then it would sound like her voice is cracking and some bigwig upstairs would freak out running down the hallway like ‘Nooooo! Lil’ Romeo’s going through puberty! Cancel that check!!’ It just bothers me because I think Eve’s fans [re:black women] should give Fatboy Slim [re:white english celebrity, who’s main work is composed of recomposing rap music] some ‘props’ for his delicious beats, not Swiss. We can be cool sometimes. Please.
Huey Lewis & The News – Power of Love
Huey Lewis has crafted such such a song of pure brilliance, only him and Steven Hawking (when he was 15) know exactly what’s going on in this song. They play this in Back to the Future after Jennifer gives Marty McFly her grandmother’s telephone number and then kisses him as a cinematic expression of the love Huey Lewis alludes to. Marty is stunned after the kiss, his blank stare devoid of any comprehension. His gaze seems to say, Whatthefuckwasthat?, and then the seemingly non-diagetic music is turned up. You really wanna know what that is? Huey answers: Thats the Power of Love. But don’t be fooled, Michael J. Fox is an actor, he was only acting like he knows what’s up. That’s what actors do.
Laura Branigan – Gloria
This is more of an honorable mention, because I have been prohibited from playing this song. Seriously. No one will back me up. I suspect my fellow DJs are upset I am the one who discovered this song, or they are afraid the Awesome Police will show up and throw me in the Awesome Hole for 6 months. I elude the Awesome Police (who are funded by the Carlyle Group) everyday, I know their tricks and mind games. Much like Bruce Lee was murdered for teaching westerners the secrets of the east, I may too may suffer one day for my generosity. But until I get my Enter the Dragon of awesomeness, I will continue to sprinkle a few Awesome Seeds here and there. In a time before me, someone tossed some Awesome Seeds near Brewster, NY. And those seeds were watered and trimmed, and the fruit of that tree fell in 1982, and the name of that sweet fruit was Gloria.