Hola amigos! Kleph here. Todd's busy doing his part for the glorious SB Nation people's revolution you've all been hearing so much about and asked me to pic up the Friday Random Ten duties again. And, once again, I'm tweaking the rules a bit.
About a month ago a friend of mine from high school and I got into an discussion about those horrible songs from the mid-80s we simply could not deny retaining a certain affection for. Needless to say it sparked a blistering exchange of youtubes that I was kind of glad nobody else could peek in on.
You see, I've always been a sucker for power pop songs sporting bitchin' guitar riffs so there have always been a lot of albums in my collection featuring bands with poofy hair and a decided lack of irony. None quite bad enough to be considered a fashionably contrarian but certainly not something I'd leave lying around out in the open for anyone else to see either. And the videos, oh my. So so sad.
So, in the spirit of the now departed Embarrassing Admissions, I give you ten songs I'd probably prefer nobody knew I secretly adore. Each and every one has at one time (and possibly still is) represented in my music collection.
Chilliwack - "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)"
Canadian cheese pop at it's finest. (In fact you best prepare yourself for a lot of backbacon-friendly rock if you want to get through this list). From the do-wop style chorus to the undeniably upbeat melody to the outta-nowhere rocktastic climax this song simply wins me over completely every damn time.
The video is a fine example of the early-80s genre from which is sprang - big hair, sleeveless t-shirts and then-state-of-the-art special effects that make you laugh out loud today. Also, the guitarist in the Ohio State shirt at 2:49 makes this one's presence in the list a complete no-brainer.
The Rasperries - "Go All The Way"
OK. These guys are legitimately good (any band Paul Westerberg liked is alright by me) but I include them as my disclaimer to what's about to follow. As schlocky and embarrassing as the rest of this list might be - they all have that fantastic power-pop sound somewhere deep down beneath the layers of big hair and bad keyboards. And when it comes to Power Pop, you start with The Raspberries. Natch.
Diesel - "Sausalito Summernight"
A disturbingly catchy diversion by a Dutch band, Diesel, who rivaled Motörhead in terms of facial hair and umlats in the members names. Not that the disco-friendly guitar breakdown in this song would ever be mistaken with anything
Lenny Lemmy would see fit to record. This is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite one hit wonders. There's a better sounding version on youtube but it uses Fashion Channel video as it's visual and I was afraid Todd would freak out at all the side-boob. Besides, that Seeburg jukebox causes significant flashbacks on its own.
Honeymoon Suite - "New Girl Now"
Oh yes, more Canadians. These guys cleaved that strange line between pure power pop and big hair metal and somehow pulled a great... er, well, pretty good song out of the mess. It's completely impossible for me to defend this song but I can't deny listening to it always puts a smile on my face. And there's enough bad 80s fashion and big hair in that video to crush a decade of dedicated therapy and medication.
The Babys - "Isn't it Time"
If there is an Mt. Everest of cheaply sentimental power pop - John Waite is the Sherpa that breathes naturally in the rarefied air of it's highest reaches. Still, the dude had some serious pipes and knew how to write a song with a beastly hook. This band was the bane of every junior high school male during the late-70s/early-80s. OHMYGOD! Do we fast dance to this!?!! Do we slow dance to this!?!! AAAHHHH!
Gino Vanelli - "Black Cars"
Oh look, another Canadian. An Italian-Canadian, actually. While Mssr. Vanelli had the 70s lounge lizard thing down he had trouble transitioning into the new decade. This was his effort to find his New Wave voice and it's the only thing even halfway bearable on the album that begat it. And for some freakin' reason, I love it. The video's effort to rebrand him in the Duran Duran/Robert Palmer mold succeeds more than one would have thought, but still... set cheese shields to "high."
Billy Squier - "Rock Me Tonight"
Ok. I admit, I thought Billy Squire was a complete and total badass back in the day. And even the not so subtle homoeroticism that drenches this video was going to convince me otherwise. The dude ripped out a string of hits in his own little genre somewhere between the sentimental excess of Power Pop and the uptight histronics of Arena Rock. That surprisingly fertile musical ground that Freddie Mercury found so much success with.
Laura Branigan - Gloria
I thought she was hot.
Saga - "Wind Him Up"
And in case you thought we were out of Canadian bands, let me hasten to correct you. Saga was the acme of self-conscious hair rock in the early 80s although nobody seems to remember them anymore. But damn I loved this song. As the shockingly perceptive youtube commenter noted "This is just one of the those perfect 80s songs in all its overwrought beauty." Of course it is. Also, bonus cheese points for the overly literal final shot of the video.
The Fabulous Poodles - "Mirror Star"
These guys were a British pub rock outfit that during the late 1970s slid very nicely into the yawning gap between Power Pop and New Wave. Their penchant for exploding instruments and on-stage weirdness made them a popular opener for bigger punk acts like The Ramones but admitting you liked them was decidedly uncool back in the day. Today you're lucky if you can find their stuff in the 99 cent bin at the creepy used record store that still carries vinyl.
Alrighty. That will do it for my ten. You kids can list your embarrassing songs in the comments or give us your usual random ten. In order to make up for all the horrid Canadian music I've forced on you, I'll make it up to you by signing off with MST3K's "Canada Song."