Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for November 9, 2012

[Post-Election Edition] -- I know. I know. Everyone has something to say about the 2012 election. And I've certainly said my share in the last few days (mainly to pick on Donald Trump and Karl Rove). But not now. No, right now, rather than something to say, I have some things I want to sing. Or, rather, things I want to sing along to. I want to use music, particularly our shared love of 80s music, to begin the healing process. And if I cannot do that, I'll at least draw some interesting parallels between current issues and the lyrical content of a few 80s songs. Ready? Well, then, read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"She says we've got to hold on to what we've got  |  'Cause it doesn't make a difference If we make it or not."

In 1986, I graduated from high school (May), started college (August), and saw Bon Jovi perform in concert (December). I was having a good year, but not everyone else was. And the second single from Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet illustrates this. "Livin' on a Prayer" hit the charts on October 31, 1986. Within months, it worked its way to the top of the the Mainstream Rock Tracks and the Billboard Hot 100 charts (spending two weeks at #1 on the former and four weeks at #1 on the latter). Thematically, the song is a protest against poverty and homelessness. Lyrically, the song outlines the woes of a working class couple: The loss of a (presumably) high-paying job, union issues, and struggling to make ends meet. These woes are, unfortunately, as familiar to folks today as they were in the late 80s. And all the lyrics' topics -- unemployment, the role of unions, household income, and (to a certain extent) prayer -- made appearances in the 2012 election as well as those of 1980 and 1984. In fact, if you stripped away the hair metal guitars and 80s synths, replaced the talk box with auto tuning, and released the song today, some folks might not realize it was written over 25 years ago. On second thought, forget I wrote that. I really don't want to encourage some wannabe to auto tune this gem.

Flashback #2"Look out of your windows, watch the skies | Read all the instructions with bright blue eyes."

While you were celebrating -- or, perhaps, incessantly weeping over -- the election results on Tuesday night, you might have missed another huge voter decision. No, not the Colorado stoner amendment or the four states that legalized gay marriage (although both results were historic). No, I'm talking about a decision made outside the continental U.S. You see, for the first time in their history as a U.S. Commonwealth, Puerto Rico voted for statehood. Now, it was only by a slim margin, and it was a nonbinding referendum, but the implications for Congress, the U.S. flag design, and the cultural relevancy of an 80s punk band are huge. Granted, "51st State," New Model Army's first single off their 1986 album The Ghost of Cain, was actually about the perceived Americanisation of the UK. But if the U.S. actually grants statehood to Puerto Rico, they will be the first new state since Hawaii joined in 1959. Do you understand what I'm saying? The last new state was admitted to the Union before we children of the 80s were born! All our lives, there have been 50, and only 50, states! Now there is a very real possibility that school children will have one more state for which they cannot remember a capital name.

Flashback #3"I can't stand this indecision | Married with a lack of vision."

Tears for Fears formed in 1981 after the breakup of ... well, after the breakup of a band that no one ever heard of. Initially a synthesizer duo, Tears for Fears later moved into more of a pop rock sound and this evolution is apparent on their sophomore album, Songs from the Big Chair (1995). The album spawned two number one hits, one of which is our final Flashback of the day. Although Tears for Fears came from a nation that once truly ruled the world, they could have been singing about anyone in "Everybody Wants to Rule the World."And it looks like they were doing just that. According to songwriter Curt Smith, the song is "about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes." In 1986, this song won "Best Single" at the Brit Awards. Considering the amount of money that was shoveled into this recent U.S. election, this song is as relevant as ever ... at least as far as politicians are concerned.

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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