Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: 1984 Anti-Eroticism

I’m still not exactly sure how any of us survived being teenagers in the 1980s.

It’s alarming how many people either don’t know or don’t remember — or refuse to remember — the video to Billy Ocean’s “Loverboy”. It exists, it happened, and if we go on denying it, we’ll never recover as a global society.

Actually, even though it’s just bonkers and more than a little off-putting, I love that the video exists. I feel like the TV-headed aliens were genuinely novel; it was at least he first time I’d seen anything like them. It’s tempting to say “they don’t make ’em like that anymore!” but that would be a lie. This might be the biggest gap between inexplicably weird video to straightforward pop song ever, though.

Looking back on the early 1980s, I’m kind of surprised that 12-13-year-old me survived it without becoming even weirder than I already am. Everything seemed unnecessarily sci-fi or post-apocalyptic (Star Wars and Mad Max/The Road Warrior over-saturated 1981-1985 even more than the MCU has done in the present), and oddly sexual and dirty. Not dirty like “naughty” but dirty like actual dirt.

In particular, Russell Mulcahy-directed videos for Duran Duran around this time, like Union of the Snake and The Wild Boys, hit me right in the adolescence. They were a blur of scaffolding and leather and abs and eye make-up. Watching Simon LeBon tied up on a windmill made me feel like the villain in Hunchback of Notre Dame watching Esemeralda dance.

But I mean, Duran Duran was supposed to be 80s sexy; that was their whole schtick. You don’t really get a feel for how bizarrely sexualized early-80s music videos were unless you see something like Hall & Oates’s “Adult Education”, with its post-apocalyptic wedding ceremony and John Oates looking very angry that he didn’t get to wear a shirt. I’m pretty sure that this video had the most naked person I’d ever seen up to that point. But it was like seeing Michael Douglas’s gratuitously bare-assed flank in Romancing the Stone: I thought “even as a ridiculously confused and horned-up 13-year-old, there is nothing I can do with this image.”

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Hyperspace Hoopla

Always two there are, on Tuesdays, no more, no less.

For this May 4th, my favorite performance of “Hey Ya” and what might be the best thing that I’ve ever seen (almost) live: the Hyperspace Hoopla, part of the Star Wars Celebration at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which culminated in a dance off with Chewbacca and the women of Star Wars shaking it like a Polaroid picture. (YouTube won’t let me embed this version of the show, but it better conveys the mood with the introduction of DJ Lobot).

That was such a joyfully ridiculous (and ridiculously joyful) show — extremely, almost obscenely cheesy, effusively corny, so far beyond the boundaries of self-awareness that it became earnest again, and seemingly driven more by genuine enthusiasm and love for all of this nonsense than by a desire to impress. I was at the studios goofing off after working on a project, unaware that the show was even happening, so stumbling on this bizarre moment and learning it was part of a long-running tradition made it even more remarkable.

A huge part of the appeal of Star Wars for me as an adult is that it’s precariously balanced on a knife edge between cool and ridiculous. The ridiculousness of the “Hyperspace Hoopla” without the dancing and costume-making talent would’ve been cringe-worthy. But if you just try for cool props and set design and visual effects, but no spark of joyful goofiness, you end up with Rogue One.

Tuesday tune two is “Nama Heh,” which is one of the songs played at Oga’s Cantina in Galaxy’s Edge. A fact which should surprise no one is that for at least two months after Disney released the cantina songs on streaming services, I listened to them in a near-constant loop. Another example of extremely talented people putting all their talent into making something goofy, because these songs are both a) nonsense, and b) bangin’.

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Now You All Know the Words

Na na dooo doo do na na dit do do

I’ve always been bad at recognizing song lyrics, so I appreciate songs like “Huffer” by The Breeders and “Rock Music” by Pixies. If there’s one thing that Kim Deal and Black Francis can both agree on, it’s that it’s a waste to be getting too heady with the lyrics if I’m just going to be in my car screaming nonsense anyway.

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: A Real Tough Cookie, Not a Divorcee

If you like these two tunes, come back in a couple weeks for your boosters.

The Beastie Boys and Pat Benatar all agree: get vaccinated!

It’s a good way to be a responsible citizen looking out for your neighbors, just like Pat Benatar does in this video by telling someone in the front row of the audience that he’s got some barbecue sauce on his cheek.

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Better on Video

Two tangentially-related tunes every Tuesday: today’s videos made me like the songs more

This installment of Tuesday Tune Two-Fer has two of my favorite music videos ever, and in fact they’re so good that they make me like the song more.

First up is “And She Was” by Talking Heads, which has such an amazing aesthetic that I’m still surprised it wasn’t used more often. (The only other occurrence I know of is Michael Jackson’s “Leave Me Alone” video). I still want to make some kind of video or game project that looks like this, which let’s be honest must be a billion times easier to do now. Just use shaders or some shit.

Second is “Hello” by Emergency Broadcast Network, which goes by the better title “You Have Five Seconds to Complete This Section” on their album Telecommunication Breakdown. I didn’t actually discover the video until years after I got obsessed with the album, but it’s almost overtaken “Electronic Behavior Control System” as my favorite thing by EBN.

I say “almost” because I really can’t overstate how much “Electronic Behavior Control System” blew my mind, even as a tiny QuickTime video hidden on the data portion of the album CD. This one wasn’t included on the CD, for whatever reason, so I never really appreciated just how much video DJ-ing went into the track. I also appreciate how their sense of humor comes through more subtly in this one, especially with the sign language interpreter pointing accusingly at us.

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Early 2000s Mix Tape

Today’s two tunes appeared on 99.9% of my playlists in the 2000s

Remember the early 2000s, which were just a few years ago and not 20, so shut your lying mouth? Instead of all these uninspired present-day bands who insist on making “new music,” back then, they dug up under-appreciated albums from the 60s and 70s and did electronic remix version compilations. They were crazy about that stuff, and we liked it that way.

One was called The Now Sound Redesigned, a bunch of remixes of songs by The Free Design. The Free Design have an album called Kites Are Fun and they seem to me as if they were inspired by The Association, but wanted a sound that wasn’t so intense and edgy. “I Found Love” is by far my favorite track from that project. Putting the original men’s vocals weaving in and out of Sarah Shannon’s more prominent lead vocals is the perfect move, elevating the original from something slight and treacly to something genuinely pretty.

Another was “Batucada” by Towa Tei & Bebel Gilberto. (It had already been out a few years before I discovered it). Hearing this song brings back memories of driving around the Bay Area listening to Pizzicato Five, Fantastic Plastic Machine, the Samba de Amigo and Jet Set Radio soundtracks, and imagining living in a swinging future bachelor pad that overlooked the megalopolis of Rio de Tokyo.

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: In Search of Lost Fountains

YOU CAN’T MISS DISNEY WORLD IF YOU KEEP IT IN YOUR HEART ALWAYS

There are many books that I’ve never read and will never read, but still like to make easy references to in order to sound more literate, the same way that lazy TV writers reference A Christmas Carol around December, and traitors to the United States reference 1984. One of those is Remembrances of Things Past, which I only discovered today is more often translated as In Search of Lost Time.

And the one thing about that work that everyone knows is the part about vivid involuntary memory conjured by eating a piece of cake. Maybe I should stop pseudo-referencing Proust and instead update it to something I have actually seen, and compare it to the end of Ratatouille?

Anyway, the older I get, the easier it is to narrow down my favorite place on the entire planet Earth: the area stretching from Crescent Lake to the center of Future World in Epcot.

When I want to go back there mentally, there are two pieces of music that never fail to deliver. One is “Linwood Road” by Billy Joe Walker, Jr. This was (is?) part of the background music loop playing just outside of the Yacht & Beach Club. Hearing it now, I can actually feel that muggy heat of central Florida in late spring, not yet hot enough to be oppressive, because it’s early morning and because you can still feel the perpetual cold of constant air conditioning. I can actually taste the blueberry muffin I had from the lobby just about every morning, which like a lot of stuff at Disney, is good but nowhere near as good as you were imagining. I can hear the kids screaming in the pool and feel the calm of knowing that they’re not my responsibility. And I can see the Friendship Boat coming from the BoardWalk, on its way to take people to MGM Studios.

The other is, not surprisingly, the music from Epcot’s Future World/Innoventions area. It’s funny that this is so easy to find online these days, since I can remember a few years when I was desperate to be able to listen to it outside the parks. I ended up getting a copy from some anonymous person from a small Disney music-obsessive message board, who had access to the original tracks, and it felt dangerous and illicit, like meeting Deep Throat in a parking garage.

Hearing it now puts me right outside the Mouse Gear store, sitting and watching the fountain that used to be at the center of Future World. (And smoking, but I don’t miss that part). Or leaving for the monorail right after it’s gotten dark, and the fiber-optic patterns in the concrete have started to light up.

I think part of the reason I can’t get too upset about all the changes in the works at Epcot is that I’ve got even more vivid memories of that place than I do of apartments I’ve lived in.

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: Simmer Down Now

SpectreCollie.com, your soft rock FM in the AM

Last night, we decided to forgo my usual white noise and try Apple Music’s playlist for so-called “Peaceful Sleep.” Apparently, I fell asleep eventually, but it was a battle. I’ve never been able to sleep with music playing, partly because a part of my brain is always waiting for the next bar to finish. Maybe too many years in band trained me to pay super-close attention to music, so I don’t miss my cue.

But there is some music that can calm my brain, like the two tunes for today. First is Angelika Suspended, which was from a short side project by Poi Dog Pondering. I first heard this in college and it’s still one of my favorite pieces of music.

Next is Super Triangle by the Go! Team. It already made me think of 1970s educational animation even before they made that excellent video. It’s very calming to have nostalgia for a time when all I had to worry about was when 3-2-1 Contact was going to be on.

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: For the Boys

Two videos I just want to watch, so back off, okay?

Is there a word for when you feel like something is blatantly, shamelessly pandering to you, but you’re still into it for reasons beyond your control? That’s how I feel whenever I watch the video to “Fast Slow Disco” by St. Vincent.

But maybe I’m being dismissive of its artistry. Perhaps I should watch it again.

I can’t get too into this video, because I get irrationally and unfairly annoyed whenever I see women in gay bars. I also think that while I’m still a huge fan of St. Vincent, sometime around Masseduction she started over-estimating her own coolness by about 10-20%, and she could stand to pump the brakes a bit.

But it’s still a pretty good song, and I can hardly ever turn down a chance to watch guys with their shirts off making out with each other. And even though it feels a little like she’s wearing a gay bear leather bar as a costume — similar to how Lady Gaga’s meat dress probably wasn’t intended to make people think about cows — it’s nice to see someone fairly mainstream normalizing body types like this as being sexy and fun. This video isn’t all that sexier than the one for “Cold-Hearted” by Paula Abdul, and that one ran constantly in 1989 — on network television, even! — back when I was still trying to figure out why the scenes with Bob Hoskins and Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? were clearly connecting with me in a way they weren’t intended to.

Completely unrelated, here’s Michael Sembello lip-syncing “Maniac” for American Bandstand in 1983. Kudos to red beret guy for making the most of his camera time!

Tuesday Tune Two-Fer: What Could It Mean?

Two tangentially-related tunes every Tuesday! This week: do you have what it takes to unlock the baffling subtext?

Two songs have been running through my head this week. What mysteries could my subconscious be holding?

One is Seu Jorge’s Portuguese cover of “Changes” by David Bowie. If for some reason you haven’t seen The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, or unfamiliar with Jorge’s music for that movie, I really recommend checking it out! I think those covers, along with The Venture Brothers, made me more of a fan of Bowie’s music. (This one and “Life on Mars” I have to say I actually like better than the originals).

The other song is “Found a Job” by Talking Heads, which isn’t one of my favorite of their songs, but it was in Stop Making Sense, which means that it’s permanently embedded in my brain.