Hit Me Baby One More Time 6/23: They Don’t Write ‘Em Like That Anymore
Welcome, folks, to the fourth episode of Hit Me Baby One More Time. Since I haven’t actually seen the show, and this is my very first recap, I’ll bring a fresh perspective. Either that or I won’t know what the heck I’m talking about. It’s all good though- we’ll muddle through together. Tonight’s musical guests are Greg Kihn, Club Nouveau, Glass Tiger, Billy Vera and the lovely Thelma Houston.
Our illustrious host Vernon Kaye rises from beneath the stage to welcome us. He’s tall and lanky, all teeth and gums. Unfortunately, I can’t understand a word he’s saying. Pause, rewind, play. Pause, rewind, play. He seems to be explaining how the show works but the only words I catch are "…a doonation to tha charity of tha ahtist’s chooce by tha Americaquest Mortgage Company." Ah, product placement. That’s the important message.
My Health’s In Jeopardy, Baby
The first performer of the evening is Greg Kihn. A flashback shows us the video for "Our Love’s in Jeopardy." Dang, The video looks even cheesier than I remember, but he’s a charming specimen of manhood - all muscles, hair and teeth, and he looks great in a tux.
Portly but energetic, he takes the stage to perform “The Breakup Song”. His voice is a little rougher than it used to be, but the song rocks. Wow, I even remember the words: "Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh." Sometimes I amaze myself. He’s unrecognizable and I’m worried that he and his band of cohorts will keel over before they finish the song. These guys are seriously out of shape. A sweaty Kihn beams as he ends the song with a flourish. He breathlessly tells Vern they’ll be back to sing Green Day’s “ Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. Okay, guys, y’all get some rest now.
We Still Be Jammin’
Up next is Club Nouveau, singing their 1987 Grammy winning cover of Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me”. I prefer Wither’s more soulful version of the song, but Valerie Watson still has a great set of pipes. Braids flying, she is all over the place. They don’t quite match the studio rendition, which was layered to absolute perfection by singer/producer Jay King, but the vocals are pleasing and they bring energy to the song, crisscrossing the stage as they sing the harmonies. “We Be Jammin.” Yeah, you do.
Vern informs the audience they have the most important job tonight, that of “jukebox jury.” The audience gets excited, perhaps imagining a future in which they tell their children about their experience: “Nooo, it wasn’t the Michael Jackson trial, but we deliberated just as carefully.” Whatever.
We Won’t Let You Forget We Were Gone
Canadian band Glass Tiger sold millions of records (yeah, they still had those then) with their 1986 hit “Don’t forget me (when I’m gone). Thousands of women sigh simultaneously, remembering their senior prom, while lead singer Alan Frew sighs, remembering his hair. He’s still a good looking guy, but now he resembles the accountant down the hallway at your office, slinking out for the evening in hoop earrings, hoping the boss doesn’t catch him in the act. The band performs without singer Bryan Adams who performed on the original version, but they tear it up with a guitar solo or two. Frew ends with a couple of off key notes and a resounding “Woo!” He says band loves the fact that they’re still performing after all these years.
Also performing after all these years is
my dadBilly Vera. He recorded “At this Moment” in 1981, but it didn’t become a hit until being featured on Family Ties in 1987, whereupon it flew to number one on the charts. That’s a long time to wait for a hit record. Billy sits at the piano to sing. He has a strong, lovely voice. I’m not a fan of this song but he did it justice, ending with a lilting falsetto. The crowd cheers – this is the strongest performance of the evening thus far.
Raggedy Ann Discos Down The Boulevard Of Broken Dreams
After a commercial break we are introduced to disco diva Thelma Houston. I’m momentarily taken aback by her hair, which has morphed from a demure “Dorothy Hamill ‘do” into an explosion of blonde braids that have a life of their own, quivering at the slightest movement. Girlfriend, fire your hairdresser immediately!
She’s mysteriously missing part of the front of her dress but manages to rouse the audience with her 1977 number one hit “Don’t Leave me This Way”. She prances across the stage in a way that’s reminiscent of Tina Turner, if Tina was tired and her feet hurt. The audience loves it, clapping and singing along.
Next, we spend a little quality time with Greg Kihn. He informs us that he’s authored five novels. He says writing a book is like writing a song, only harder. I recognize the one featured, Big Rock Beat, because I read it a few years ago courtesy of my local library. It’s a murder mystery involving an ex- rocker turned DJ. Imagine that.
For their second song the band revs up “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. The crowd screams at the opening guitar licks but Kihn’s performance is marred by a hoarse voice and the harmonies are a little off. Kihn is an ex-smoker and it seems to have affected his voice. I like it, but I don’t think Green Day is worried.
Club Nouveau Covers Dido’s Version Of The Lumberjack Song
Not really, but since I don’t know who Dido is it might as well be. Seriously folks, I crawled straight out from under a rock (where I was listening to Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks for the one hundred and fifty millionth time) to do this recap. In his bio Jay King informs us that he wants to start a professional domino league, and calls himself “the Michael Jordan of Dominoes.” I’ll bet he doesn’t know who Dido is either.
My lack of musical expertise notwithstanding, Valerie Watson sounds just fine as she warbles “Thank You”, and the other Club members blend nicely. The audience waves their arms in time to the music and everyone enjoys the performance, even me.
Please Buy My CD And/Or My Salad Dressing
Alan Frew has been a busy boy in his native Canada. He’s the proud papa of baby Evan and has been living the good life with his partner of seventeen years, Marcie. He says he splits his time between being a rock star for Glass Tiger and spokesperson for Marcie’s business venture – a line of salad dressings. Gee, I couldn’t make up my mind between being a supermodel or working at the Kwikie mart, so I totally know where you’re coming from, dude.
Glass Tiger’s second song of the evening is Vertical Horizon’s “ Everything You Want” and it’s another song I’ve never heard. Evidently the crowd knows it as they sing along word for word. It’s just meh for me; fortunately I maintain interest by focusing on the aluminum foil jacket Frew is sporting.
Next we see a clip of Billy Vera doing cheesy voice-overs for radio advertisement. Segue into Billy singing Ryan Cabrera’s “True.” He starts out well, goes a little flat on the refrain, then slides into Spanish for the second verse and pulls it out. Fog blankets the stage as a special effect to make the song seem dreamy. I wait for the fans to stampede, but apparently their lungs are made of steel. This is the most romantic song of the evening, and couples sway together as they sing along.
If She’s Not Careful She’ll Be Fallin’
Scary-haired ladyThelma Houston is back for one last song. She tells us she’s been a busy girl, spending time with her grandchildren and designing ‘70’s style clothing that she sells on her website. That explains her bizarre outfit. Either she forgot to hem the back of her dress or she’s hiding a hideous deformity- “I’ll just let out the hem in back to hide my tail.” The skirt is mini- skirt length in front, but drags the ground in the rear. I can’t enjoy the song (even the rock I’m under can’t filter out Alicia Keys’ “Fallin”) for fear that Thelma will fall on her butt. She shuffles around and barely misses catching a heel on the skirt, which ends up between her legs. I want to pin it up in front, diaper style.
The crowd screams as she ends the song, and Vern earns his pay by recapping tonight’s performances: “Whoo brought down the hoose tanite? It’s a toof decision ahn it’s goona be closs.” If I’d said that line, it would’ve come out something like this: “It’s a tuff decision, y’all, an’ it’s gunna be close, so gitcher buzzers out an’ vote fer yer faverite.” Do we speak the same language? You decide.
And The Winner Is….
After the break (Gah, I’m starting to sound like Ryan Seacrest) Vern is back and he announces this week’s winner is Thelma Houston. She rises through the stage and gives an encore performance of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” after telling Vern that her chosen charity is the Minority Aids Project. She dances again, I worry about her skirt again, and thankfully the show is over.
Next week is the finale, and the guests are Animotion, Juice Newton, Missing Persons, PM Dawn, and Shannon. Have you heard of any of these performers? Email me at: Dinahann@fansofrealitytv.com
Keep on rocking in the free world