[Miami Sound Machine] -- Notice how often today's artists have their releases pushed in TV shows and commercials? How about the resources available to help you track down and purchase those songs (e.g., TuneFind, Shazam, AdTunes)? Given how prevalent pop music is in television, you might think that this marriage of entertainment genres has been in place since the beginning of broadcast TV.
But if you thought that, you would be wrong.
We can actually trace this practice to the 1980s. To be more specific, we can give credit to one groundbreaking show that debuted on September 28, 1984: Miami Vice. In addition to chronicling the exploits of Detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs, Miami Vice was a huge influence in shaping and defining style in the 80s. (Exactly how many pastel shirts and white jackets were sold because of this show?) In fact, Vice was as much a contributor to 80s style as MTV -- not surprising considering how many MTV artists contributed tunes to the police procedural.
Miami Vice originally ran five seasons, spanning 111 episodes from 1984 to 1990. The music was such a popular part of the shows that three soundtracks were released on MCA Records: Miami Vice I (1985), Miami Vice II (1986), and Miami Vice III (1988). Jan Hammer's score music was finally collected in 2002 on the two-CD set, Miami Vice: The Complete Collection. Those four releases combine for a total of 74 tracks. That's a fair number of options for Flashback selections. So, what three are featured this week? Read and hear more after the jump.
Miami Vice's unique sonic style started with the theme, written and performed by Jan Hammer, who also scored the series. The Miami Vice Theme hit #1 on U.S. Billboard charts in 1895 and garnered two Grammy Awards in 1986 (not bad for an instrumental). Jan Hammer's music video for the theme song cleverly inserted him into footage from the show to make it look like he was on the run from Crockett and Tubbs. I could not embed that video in this blog post, but you can view it here if you like. For this post, I am using the 12" mix: seven minutes of synthesized goodness.
Flashback #2: "Nobody knows where you're goin' | Nobody cares where you've been | 'Cause you belong to the city | You belong to the night."
Glenn Fry -- a founding member of 70s superstar band, The Eagles -- continued his success into the 80s with two songs in Miami Vice episodes. "Smuggler's Blues" appeared in an episode of the same name, an episode that also featured Fry as a guest star. That was a fun little tune, but it's not our second Flashback. That honor is reserved for a tune that appeared in the second season's premiere episode, "Prodigal Son." It's a two-hour "film" that follows Crockett and Tubbs as they travel from Miami to New York City in a quest to hunt down a few Columbian drug lords. This Flashback underscores the scene where Crockett is walking city streets and sitting in a club. "You Belong to the City" perfectly captures that air of defeat associated with a night in the big city, but it also has that slight hint of 80s optimism. The song appears on the first Miami Vice soundtrack and it reached #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Flashback #3: "Take that look of worry | I'm an ordinary man | They don't tell me nothin' | so I find out all I can | There's a fire that's been burning | Right outside my door | I can't see, but I feel it | And it helps to keep me warm."
Earlier this month, Phil Collins announced his retirement from the music industry. Although he was a hit machine in the 80s, but outside of the Tarzan soundtrack (1999), he hadn't really cracked the top 100 since 1990. Still, he has left quite an impressive catalog and he, too, made his mark on Miami Vice. Our third flashback of the day closed out the season two premiere, underscoring a reunion between Tubbs and his old girlfriend (and Crockett's departure from New York). Aside from the television use, "Take Me Home" (1985) reached #7 on the U.S. charts and was very popular in Collins' live performances. The official music video, embedded below, shows Phil singing (or, more accurately, poorly lip-syncing) in front of popular spots around the world and then returning home. This storyline is somewhat at odds with Collins' own explanation that the lyrics refer to a discharged mental patient ("Phil Collins: Pop Music's Answer to Alfred Hitchcock". Stephen Holden, The New York Times, 4/7/85.) Whatever the real story, I hear the yearning of a protagonist to return -- whether it is a return home or to a previous condition, it is a return nonetheless. Check out the video below, or view the Miami Vice scene where it appeared.
Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. But if you 80s-philes need more flashbacks, please visit the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post.
I'll see you in seven!