Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Okay, breaking the promise to womankind about the May Aufderheide biography (well kinda...been taking offsite notes). Overall I'm on semi-wikibreak this month. Broadly defined, that means reducing useful editing to a minimum.

What else is there in life? Besides Thanksgiving etc. etc?

Music. Bad music. On Skype and gmail chat a bunch of people have been trading YouTube links to really awful music. There's a strange fascination to this and an impulse to one-down each other. So sharing the highlights...erm, lowlights...of this monumental waste of time.

Earth Wind, & Fire, "Boogie Wonderland"
In order to be truly awful a song needs to have a few good points going for it. Quality sound engineering, a chart appearance in at least one country, and video production values. "Boogie Wonderland" is a typical bad song: something that kind of seems tolerable if the first hearing happens during one's third drink at a noisy party. It's got a danceable beat and an infectious melody. The next morning, though, that beat resembles a pounding headache and the melody is still infectious in that other sense of the word. The few lyrics that aren't garbled are inane. Then add those late seventies disco costumes...for a couple of months a whole lot of people had a terrible lapse of taste.

Yes, the video is contributory copyright infringement (which I would not do on wiki). Most of these links are. If a copyright holder complains I'll delink the darn things. I dare anybody to admit ownership.

Robert Palmer, I Didn't Mean to Turn You On
Robert Palmer deserves his own special place in rock 'n roll hell for inventing a music video cliche: models in black minidresses pretending to look like a backup band. It was a little bit witty the first time with Addicted to Love. He also used it here (smaller minidresses this time) and the models don't even try to finger chords on their instruments. The dude used the same gimmick again for Bad Case of Loving You, recycling sets and models. Other artists picked up on the idea and for several years MTV got really boring for heterosexual female viewers. Its last gasp was probably Tone Loc's Wild Thing. The particular touch that makes I Didn't Mean to Turn You On more dreadful than any of the others is its saccharine paean to neoconservative morality: Palmer in a dark business suit pleads innocence surrounded by eleven models, all of whom wear too much makeup and too little clothing. The title phrase juxtaposes against close-ups of the dancers' wriggling backsides. You didn't mean to be a tease, Robert? Yeah, sure.

Laura Branigan, Gloria
What's with the hairstyle? Was it a fashion in 1982 to deliberately mimic a unibrow? Just because a singer has a voice doesn't mean a song is any good. The lyrics she doesn't slur seem to be a warning to a friend who's developing schizophrenia, delivered with all the schmaltz and bad judgment of a teenager who thinks she can lecture a buddy out of psychosis. Except Branigan was already in her late twenties when she recorded the thing--which is a bit too old to be forgiven. Please, lady, close your lips and look up 'psychiatrist' in the yellow pages. Extra irritating points for the synthetic mock-trumpets in the final seconds.

Doobie Brothers, What a Fool Believes
Gotta hand it to this video for including subtitles. Problem is, they eliminate the good faith extended to misheard lyrics that maybe the real song would make sense. It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to sing and remove all doubt. Pity the radio audience of 1979 as they fled from the frying pan of Earth, Wind & Fire and landed here. Bad hit songs tend to zing around inside the cranium consuming spare brain cells until something else drives them out...usually another bad song. Want to get rid of this one? Well, the only melody that really outdoes What a Fool Believes for moronic relentlessness is It's a Small World.


Circéus said...

I'm fairly sure you cannot be legally faulted for linking to existing copyvio.

Lise Broer said...

Have a closer look at Wikipedia's copyright policy.

Timothy Usher said...

The lyrics to "What a Fool Believes" make perfect sense - try them again. As one might assume, they mock the song's hapless protagonist. Not that Michael McDonald *needs* to make sense to sound good…

Shame about the horribly dated synth comp, however.

Dan said...

The title caption inside that last video calls the band "The Doodie Brothers"... amusing typo.