Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for January 21, 2011

Image from How Do You Know You're Doing Science Wrong? [scienceblogs.com]

[Theme: Better Living Through Science] -- This week's theme was inspired by a fan video that I just happened to see in my Facebook newsfeed yesterday. I'm using that very same video today, so you'll have to wait until later for specific details about it. For now, all I want to say about it is that this particular video took footage from the current incarnation of an older TV series and set it to a great song from a crazy-fun 80s movie (a movie that inspired a slightly entertaining 90s TV series, but that's a bit tangential for today). "Science," I said to myself, "is a perfect theme for me to use in an 80s flashback!" Why is it so perfect? Well, I spent 1982-1986 in what was called the Scientific curriculum at my high school. I then spent the remainder of the 80s pursuing a Physics degree at Penn State. Yes, I was a good little nerd during that seminal decade. So, of course, I love music that is infused with technology -- or music that at least has lyrics influenced by science and technology. It may not be the best stuff for studying how to use bracket notation or matrix computations, but it is the absolute best music for celebrating after surviving another difficult exam.

Or celebrating a long work week. Like, perhaps, this week.  

If you want to know what songs your mad scientist has in the mix today, read and hear more after the jump.

Star-divide
Flashback #1"Good heavens Miss Sakamoto -- you're beautiful!" What better way to kick off this week's scientific theme than with a tune that playfully gives a wink and a nod to the old adage, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullsh--," er, um, I mean, "...baffle them with complex knowledge." You see, to "blind someone with science" is pretty much the British equivalent of the "baffle them with b.s." tactic.
Don't say you never learned something about world cultures during the flashback, folks!

By now, you've likely guessed that our first flashback is "She Blinded Me With Science," the first single off The Golden Age of Wireless (1982) by the inimitable Thomas Dolby. His parents named Thomas Morgan Robertson, but his friends called him "Dolby" because of his predilection for monkeying about with keyboards and tapes and such. They were no doubt was inspired by Dolby Laboratories, but did not seriously confuse or associate Thomas Dolby with the audio company (folks there, however, did think it might become a problem, but they could not get courts to agree).

Here is a great video of "She Blinded Me With Science," mixing recent concert footage with that of the original music video. This performance must have come at the end of a concert because about the first two minutes are filled with Thomas Dolby thanking the audience and everyone involved in the show. If you can't wait for those two minutes to pass, or you don't enjoy an artist's live reinterpretations of their own classics, you can see the original video. Otherwise, enjoy this updated version!




Flashback #2"Not long now till the ultimate experiment. He's breaking all the rules." Our second flashback was the third single from Men At Work's sophomore effort, Cargo (1983). In a great twist on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,  Colin Hay and his band-mates composed a song about a mad scientist, Dr. Heckyll, who creates a potion that transforms him from a socially awkward academic into a suave, smooth-talking young man. I believe the modern name for this potion is Felix Felicis.

Now, I'm not admitting, nor am I denying, that I ever wanted or needed such a potion, but I do very much dig this video, and I hope you will, too.




Flashback #3"From my heart and from my hand | Why don't people understand | My intentions?" We have finally arrived at the video that inspired this week's theme. I saved it for last and I do hope the wait was worth it. Released in 1985, Weird Science was a teen comedy written and directed by the late John Hughes, the cinema bard of my generation. The them of this particular film -- geeky and bullied teen boys making out good in the end. Or, was that just making out? Yeah, it was pretty much the latter. But, still, it was a modern take on the mad scientist story ... just with hormones.

Now, you couldn't have a popular film in the 80s without a high-octane soundtrack. And Weird Science had just that. The title track for the movie was written by Danny Elfman (yes, that Danny Elfman) and performed by new wave favorites, Oingo Boingo (also known as The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo as well as other names). You can find "Weird Science," the song, on the movie soundtrack and Oingo Boingo's 1985 release, Dead Man's Party (highly recommended, by the way, and the title track of that record appears on the soundtrack for Back to School with Rodney Dangerfield).

Regarding the video selection for this song, who does the very best weird science, and I do mean an emphasis on who?  If you said Doctor Who, then you would be following my train of thought! (Whether that is the most correct answer is not relevant at this time). The following video masterfully unites clips from the 10th Doctor's adventures with Oingo Boingo's popular song (the original video, with a three minute intro, is here).  




As is the usual mode of operation around here, flashbacks are governed by the Rule of Three. So three vids is all you get ... until next week. Be good, folks. And when in doubt, just try to live like Doctor Who. Of course, for those of us who first met the good Doctor in the 80s, this man will always be The Doctor.
http://www.filmcritic.com/features/images/who1.gif
Image from "Doctorin' the TARDIS"

1 comment:

O'Hara said...

Pretty cool Blog! your creativity and writing skills are being put to good use! Good thing you majored in physics!! Thanks for the flashback!! Your friend,
Bob