Tag Archives: music

test your musical knowledge with my favorite game

Hello, old pal, it’s been a long time. Too, too long. So long, in fact, that I wasn’t sure I was going to remember my login and password. But my long-term memory came through, and here I am. Continue reading


some top ’80s music picks for the bday

I turned 36 today, and this blog turned 1. I was planning on writing some big retrospective about how blogging this past year has taught me so many life lessons and made me a better writer/thinker/person. But then I had some birthday wine, and a friend asked me what my top 10 songs of the ’80s were. So now I’m going with that. But really quick before I do, I’ll pat myself on the back for posting 57 times in the last 365 days (this will be 58). That’s more than once a week, so I’m pretty happy about that.

Now on to more pressing matters: how to pick the Top 10 songs of the ’80s. No one, not even VH-1 and their listmaster generals, could do that. So I’m going to give you a list of my top 10 right at this moment. This means the first 10 ’80s songs I can’t live without that come to my head, so don’t chastise me when I leave off  “Billie Jean.” It’s a great song, I know. But they can’t all make the list.

1. Jumping Someone Else’s Train, The Cure. As with The Smiths (see #10), it’s impossible to pick one Cure song. But I chose this one because I play it for my high school students all the time. Such a great metaphor for high school life.

2. Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division. The brilliance is in the haunting beauty: I love you, but that will kill me. Bonus points for appearing in Donnie Darko.

3. Don’t Change – INXS. Such an inspirational message, set against Michael Hutchence’s gorgeous vocals. My favorite in a long list of favorite INXS songs — when I hear that opening synth I get so excited.

4. Goody Two Shoes – Adam Ant. What can I say? It’s a classic. And I always loved this video.

5. Heat of the Moment – Asia. The supergroup Asia, featuring members of  Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Roxy Music, might not have been so super, but this song left an indelible mark in my musical memory. These lyrics never cease to get to me — especially now that I’m 36:
and when your looks are gone and you’re alone
How many nights you sit beside the phone
What were the things you wanted for yourself
Teenage ambitions you remember well

6. Hey Ladies – The Beastie Boys. I am a huge Beastie Boys fan. I liked License to Ill, but I always felt it was a little juvenile. I really fell in love with the Boys when I heard Paul’s Boutique. This is also one great video.

7. Our Lips Are Sealed – The Go-Go’s. You couldn’t be a young girl in the ’80s and not be profoundly affected by this all-girl band. Such an influence they had on what I believed it meant to be a woman (I can be anything! Even a rock star! I can wear clothes from a thrift shop and dance in a fountain!). I was in love with Belinda Carlisle and her haircut well into the ’90s.

8. The Metro, Berlin. Terri Nunn is another one of those powerful women who had an influence on me. I finally lived out a fantasy related to this song when I rode on the Metro in Paris earlier this year and said to Tim in my nastiest snarly singing voice, “I remember hating you for loving me!”

9. Wild Wild West, Kool Moe Dee. I used to record Yo! MTV Raps on my VCR in middle school. I loved it all – Big Daddy Kane, Sir Mix-A-Lot (My Posse’s on Broadway is the first song I ever knew all the words to), Queen Latifah, MC Hammer (before his Hammer Pants got crazy), LL Cool J, L’Trimm…you get the idea. But for some reason this song has always stuck with me. I particularly like all the shout-outs at the end.

10. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now, The Smiths. It would be impossible for me to even pick 10 Smiths songs for a list, so I just had to blindly choose one. I do so love this one, and I sing it almost every day when I take on a task I don’t want to take on. In my book, Morrissey can do no wrong.

I have left off a million songs that I love, songs that would make the list tomorrow. I’ve steered clear of ’80s hair bands — a genre I was a huge fan of — and most of the massive ’80s pop singers like Madonna and Prince. I also neglected some favorite bands like Depeche Mode, Rush, Duran Duran, Guns N’ Roses, REO Speedwagon, etc. One day they will get the proper attention they deserve. For now I’m satisfied enough with my list to close the book on this post…and this birthday.

it feels good to sing in the car

I don’t karaoke, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to belt out this Pat Benatar classic in my car. And after watching this video, I now know where the inspiration for that disgustingly sappy Robin Williams/Cuba Gooding Jr. movie “What Dreams May Come” came from.

P.S. – Pat, I love the day-glo green gloves.

on the voices of rock

A friend of mine recently tried to settle an argument about Rush frontman Geddy Lee’s vocal prowess by telling me he sounds like Katharine Hepburn.

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He thought he could poke holes in my “Rush is the greatest three-man progressive rock band from Canada of all time” stance by knocking its spindly, witch-featured singer. Little did he know that my love for Canada’s ultimate nerds runs as deep as the Congo (for dramatic effect, I’ve confirmed this is the deepest river in the world). But even though I am now, more than ever convinced, that this friend is tone deaf, it did get me thinking:

Are there any rock singers who have what would be considered a traditionally pleasing voice? Continue reading

more on the wonders of ’80s movie music

Everyone who’s anyone knows that movies from the ’80s — especially those involving people between the ages of 11 and, say, 24 — kill all movies from any other time period. Turning on TBS to find a gem like Red Dawn or Lucas is a bit like finding a $10 bill in a jacket pocket on the first cold day of the year — you forgot it existed but sure are glad to see it. But what is it about these celluloid masterpieces that reduce us to wistful, line-reciting reminiscers? Is it the nostalgia factor they hold for people of a certain age? Yes, that idea may hold some weight, but tonight I propose an alternate theory.You see, the thing that makes ’80s movies so special can be boiled down to one artistic concept:

The music montage.

Long before the movie soundtrack became as important as the film itself and indie artists became overnight sensations by penning tunes for the likes of the Twilight series, movies were filled with snappy ditties by artists no one had ever heard of. These songs are inextricably linked to their respective movies, because the only place people ever heard them was when watching that film. And while these songs were not typically included on any sort of compilation album, they got prominent, full-length airtime during some important point in the plot, forever shellacking them to our frontal lobes. The music montage was a wildly popular ’80s movie device that was most commonly utilized for one of these purposes:

1) to emphasize a turning point in the plot
2) to make up for weak dialogue/script writing
3) to provide an excuse for the actors to dance.

So why don’t the movies of today use the music montage as frequently as their predecessors? It’s tough to say. It’s certainly not because the writing has grown sharper and more witty. No, I would venture to guess that the smug self-importance that has spread throughout Hollywood prevents directors/actors from giving up screen time to a car chase dubbed over with a song from some unheard of session musician. To this I say: Bad Move. I, for one, would visit the theatre far more often if I thought I would be treated to a montage of falling-in-love images set to some sappy, synth-y love song. But until the studios come to their senses and look to the past to reimagine their futures, we’ll have to take solace in the clips below, which feature the perfect blend of cheesy pop music and dialogue-free (or almost free) plot…

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