If there is one era of music that sends me into a fanatical frenzy, it’s the mid-80’s. Not so much because of the synth-pop, power ballads and outrageous hairstyles, but because those were my growing years. And as we all know being a teenager is a challenge enough. Thank goodness that we had Wang Chung and Howard Johnson to guide us out of that awkward period of life.
I couldn’t tell you where I was when I first heard The Spice Girls on the radio, but damned if I didn’t know the date, location and party I was at when Cameo first hit the airwaves (ok, actually I was in the shower designing a shampoo mowhawk, but saying I was at a party sounds a bit cooler). So party it is. And thus lets get ready to roll down amnesia lane with the icons of the 80’s and early 90’s…
I’ll Drive A Million Miles
Vernon Kaye is back and sparkly than ever. I have to admit I like him. He’s fun, slightly robotic and he’s groovy baby. Twenty years ago he would’ve been a shoo-in as Rik on The Young Ones, which gives him two thumbs up in my book.
Vern gets the show rolling with Wang Chung. A little background reminds us that nobody really knows what “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight” means, but if it’s anything like the other ambiguous 80’s pop song “I Think I’m Turning Japanese”, I’m pretty sure we’ve all Wang Chung’d at some point or another.
The duo takes the stage to perform “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”, a 1986 smash hit that followed their other dance hit, “Dance Hall Days”. Jack Hues looks great with his thinning blonde hair- a near spitting image of Sting save for the trillion’s of dollars, multi-platinum records and penchance for all things Tantric. Nick Feldman is slapping away at the bass and digging his new chia pet look. I must admit, I’m fairly amused. They still have the spunk, the same dance moves and hey, when you have a hit song from twenty years ago, nobody’s paying much attention to detail anyways. They’ll be back for another go and sweet Mary Mother of Miracle Whip is it comical. Stay tuned…
Damn!…You Need Some Anti-perspirant Girlfriend
*sigh* Who doesn’t remember Sophie B. Hawkins? You don’t? Trust me, she was salacious back in the day. Many a car window was steamed when “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” came on- her song for tonight.
Despite my fond memories, I’m quickly hoping for a title change of “Damn, I Wish This Song Was Over”. Wow! I don’t know which was more hilarious: her low creeping I-have-a-Charlie-horse-behind-my-knees crawl or the fact that once she realized she had sweaty pits, she began to do a striptease while missing the cut in the shortened song. Even the giggling girls in the front row caught that one.
Wave Your Hands In The Hair
Mention the band Cameo and you’ll inevitably hear “word up, yo”, “come on baby tell me what’s the word”, or my favorite, “w…o...r…d. up!”. Anyway you slice it, you’re getting “word” as a response (and usually in the same vocal voice as well).
The band has been chillaxin in the later years, but no doubt has come back with a flair for performance. It’s a sight to behold as the band moves in unison, dressed in shiny pleather and doused in mucho Soul-Glo. Codpiece: check! I love it and their warm-up gig on the Perry County Jamboree Carnival Tour got the band back in rhythm for tonight’s show. They’ll be back for round two performing a remake of “1985”.
No One Is To Blame…For Liking Flashdance
I would love to snark on Howard Jones. I can’t. Yeah sure he’s balding, he’s known as the Sultan of Synthesizer and he’ll be remembered more for his plastic outerwear and giganta-fro than his music. But this old chap cleaned up and brought out some pretty decent talent. Ho-Jo sang his 1986 hit “No One Is To Blame” and the watered down version was a nice diversion from the rousing raucous that came before him.
Let me just say that I curse Irene Cara. No, not literally mind you. It’s just that with her hit theme song and the phenomenon of the movie Flashdance, I had to endure my three older sisters wearing leg warmers and flash dancing in front of the TV. Yep, I’m at my happy place anytime I’m reminded of that song. Needless to say, she did a pretty good job. She shake’d, rattled and rolled…I even saw her slip in “the butterfly” move halfway through.
Hit Me Again, Y2K Style
We’re moving right along and this time the five bands/ singer’s will perform a song that is hot today. Sizzle! First up is Wang Chung. Am I the only who giggles every time I hear that name? Yes? Hey, sue me…I never claimed to have gone to finishing school.
We catch up a little more with the duo- once formally a trio until Jack and Nick decided the Wang was only big enough for two. They still reside in England and enjoy the quieter pace of life. Oh, they still record and share their music with their kids. It’s just that now nobody knows they still do.
They definitely win the comical performance of the night. Wang does a remake of Nelly’s “It’s Hot In Here”. It’s complete with the monotone rap and the type of lyric concentration that produces tiny beadlets of sweat on the brow. What’s even more priceless is they are really getting into it. Jack even pulls out the gopher in Caddyshack dance move- hands close to the side and shimmy back and forth.
Sophie has been living in Venice, Ca and is enjoying her life. She can’t believe how much of a young and sacred girl she was when she broke out. We see a clip of her painting in her little Garden of Eden and she tells us her painting influences her music. She paints, therefore she sings. Today she tours and the best part is she loves “milking it“. Milking it? Her words, not mine.
Having tossed the ripped up jeans into the 90‘s fire, Sophie comes out looking stunning and radiant. She has on an elegant black number and her hair is up showing off the soft and supple nape of her neck. I’m enjoying her rendition of Five For Fighting’s “100 Years”. While the original is a whiny, woe is me, I want to vomit piece of garbage, Sophie turns the song into her own. Picture a smoky lounge, a three piece band in ruffled tuxedos, Sophie perched upon a piano and Voila! Instant heart melting. All that was missing was a high pitched “boop-boop-bee-doo” at the end. Maybe next time…
The Science Of Bowling For Cameo
Next up is Cameo and we scoot across country to the A-T-L (that’s Atlanta for you non-homies). Mr. Cameo has been quite busy apparently (never mind my chillaxin comment) with radio shows, recording music and taking up leisurely hobbies such as astrology and metaphysics. Well, I’d say he grew up to be a well rounded young man…wouldn’t you?
Their remake tonight is “1985” by Bowling For Soup. It’s fun, it’s hip and the audience is up and grooving. I’m may just be one of five or six people who have heard of Bowling For Soup and I gotta tell you, Cameo blew their version out of the water. Me thinks Bowling might be bowling for a new song after Cameo’s performance.
You’re Always At Home With Howard
Our second to last performance tonight is by Howard Jones. Ho-Jo lives in a quiet countryside home in Somerset, England. He has a in-house studio so he spends most of his time there with his son. Lately, he has picked up Buddhism and his newfound spirituality has brought him inner peace and love.
Howie performs “White Flag” by Dido. It’s smooth and mellow. It’s mostly just he and the piano. Since he is lacking of the synthesizer and glam, does this mean he is piano-a pella? Regardless, he turns in two great performances and is my favorite of the night.
I Made It Through The
Irene seems to be the only one who is attempting a real comeback. She has been looking for a group that she can front and has found one! Whew…for a sec there, I thought we wouldn’t be so fortunate. Her new band’s name is…ready…Cara-mel. *rimshot* She’s so sneaky.
For the final song of the night, Irene and Cara-mel will making their debut singing Anastasia’s hit “I’m Out Of Love”. Ana-who? Oh silly, of course I know who Anastasia is. I do keep up with artist’s who use vanity and washboard abs in an attempt to cover up a crappy voice.
It’s a ho hum performance from where I was sitting, but it must’ve been a doozy in the auditorium as Irene Cara is announced as the winner of this weeks show. The charity she is supporting is Women In The Arts, Inc and a twenty thousand dollar donation will be made.
So that wraps up this weeks flashback. Drop by soon for more memories of yore gone by. Next week Glass Tiger, Greg Kihn and three more bands will peform. Until then…
What was your favorite song from the eighties? Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org