Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for June 19, 2015

[This Week in June 1982] -- During this week in 1982: President Reagan and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin met regarding the violence in Lebanon, the Argentine government was at war with Britain, George Allen became the coach of the Chicago franchise of the new U.S. Football League, and the Satellite News Channel debuted as competition for CNN.

Oh, and these songs topped the US Billboard Hot 100... 

Flashback #1"All I want to do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes."

Our first Flashback of the week, "Rosanna," was the first single off Toto's fourth studio album, Toto IV (1982). "Rosanna" was written by keyboardist David Paich, and it is supposedly based on numerous women he had known. Popular assumption, however, is that the song was based on actress Rosanna Arquette, who was dating Toto keyboard player Steve Porcaro (and the band played along with that assumption, for a while at least). The music video for "Rosanna" features Cynthia Rhodes  portraying the song's title character as a dancer whose bright red dress contrasts with the more dour surroundings of the city. And a young Patrick Swayze appears as one of the dancers. At this point in 1982, "Rosanna" had leapt from #7 to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song would eventually peak at #2 and hold that slot for five weeks.  

Flashback #2"I picked you out, I shook you up  |  And turned you around, turned you into someone new."

In the early 1980s, the British group, The Human League, all but defined synthpop on American airwaves. Their third studio album, Dare (1981), was their most popular album. And it yielded their most popular single, "Don't You Want Me," which is our second Flashback. Released on 11/27/81, it was the Christmas #1 in the UK, and it eventually (7/3/82) peaked at #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100. However, as of this week in 1982, "Don't You Want Me" had finished climbing from the #3 to #2 position. 

Flashback #3"Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony."

Our final Flashback this week is a Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder collaboration. And I honestly wasn't certain about posting it. I was concerned about how it would be received in the wake of the Charleston Church Shooting this week. Was it too topical? Did it seem too dated in its hopeful tone? Is it helpful to consider what race relations were like in the 1980s[PDF]? Well, I still cannot answer any of those questions. But I do know this: evoking black and white piano keys as a symbol of integration and racial harmony is rather old. McCartney was inspired by a Spike Milligan quote, but the notion can be traced to James Aggrey in the 1920s, and, possibly, as far back as the 1840s. Written by McCartney -- and recorded for his third solo album, Tug of War (1982) -- the recorded duet with Wonder peaked at #1 in both the US and the UK. It spent seven weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it one of the biggest hits of the year. Of course, the song has its detractors, too. Some critics regarded it as too saccharine, and it was eventually named as the tenth worst song of all time by Blender magazine and worst duet in history by BBC 6 Music listeners. Still, it seems to me that there's a simple truth in this song that we would do well to grasp ... before it's too late. 

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. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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