Friday, October 01, 2010

Friday 80s Flashback for October 1, 2010

[Unrequited but Upbeat Edition] -- The theme for today's flashback is upbeat songs about unrequited love. Every generation has them, but the 80s seemed to spawn some singularly interesting instances of happy beats with potentially depressing lyrical content.

Flashback #1
: When Pet Shop Boys debuted with "West End Girls" in 1984, I thought they would be a one and done kind of band. Sure, the music was catchy, and the vocals were non-threateningly polished, but I didn't see much of a future for a synthpop band singing about inner city conflict and neuroses. (Seriously, those lyrics were harsher than what many heavy metal bands were singing at that time). But this first flashback is not about that song (which is neither upbeat nor about unrequited love). No, this flashback is from late 1987, which found the 'Boys with their debut album, Please, having gone platinum in three countries, and their follow-up recording, Actually, well on its way to similar success. The second single from this sophomore effort mixed relationships, power, and money, and even helped revive the career of 60s icon Dusty Springfield. Tell me who hasn't wondered, in the course of a relationship, "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" and I will show you the one person who cannot connect with the obvious frustration and anger of "Chasing time from hour to hour, I pour the drinks and crush the flowers." Take it away, boys.

Flashback #2: I don't know why, but for years I have had this memory of Steel Breeze being introduced on Solid Gold as "the band originally known as Tin Wind." I can find nothing in the band's bio that supports such a story, so I could simply be making a mashup of two distinct memories (one of a rumor, and the other of the TV performance). But there is no mistaking that "You Don't Want Me Anymore," the first single off their 1982 self-titled debut album, took radio and MTV by storm. You might think this is far too upbeat to be about unrequited love, but the man is constantly telling the object of his affection, "I don't want to lose you," and that he wants just another chance. So, if going to someone's door uninvited isn't a demonstration of unrequited love, I don't know what is. But I do know I love this song and it's our second flashback of the day.

Flashback #3: I'm pretty sure Iggy Pop never appeared on Solid Gold. And I freely admit that "Cry For Love" is hardly a likely choice to crack your top 10 list of songs about love, unrequited or otherwise. But if the old saying is true, and every song is essentially a cry for love (or even simply attention), then the second single from Blah Blah Blah (1986) certainly qualifies. With lines like "in searching for a meaningful embrace, sometimes my self-respect took second place," Iggy gives voice to a central theme of life. And it matters not whether you are a lovesick teenager, a giddy newlywed, or a tired middle-ager sloughing throw a long-term relationship. Love of self is even more important than the love of another person. But we still want that love, too, don't we?

I compiled a pretty long list of potential tunes while preparing for today's theme. Flashbacks, however, are governed by the Rule of Three, which is something along the lines of, "Three shalt be the number of videos thou shalt recall, and the number of the videos shall be three." So, that's it until next Friday!

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