Finale (6/30): The End of the Search for Missing Persons or the Dawn of A New Era
Hop on board for the fifth episode of the three episode Hit Me Baby One More Time! Yes, you read that right. This is the show that’s success has made it harder to kill than a cockroach. In fact, it’s continued existence just gets curiouser and curiouser. Frankly, I’m not convinced it won’t pop up again on the television schedule next week. Vernon Kay, our erstwhile host (or in Vernon speak, eerstwill hoost), says several times throughout the evening that this is the season finale. Note that he doesn’t say series finale. Just in case, I have an exterminator on stand by. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed reliving the cheesy music of my younger years. I’m just afraid of what dregs they will bring up from the depths if they add any more episodes.
Juice in Motion
We open with a review of last week’s show during which Thelma Houston and her odd apparel triumphed over the likes of a rather pudgy Greg Kihn and Glass Tiger. This week’s performers will be Juice Newton, Animotion, Shannon, PM Dawn, and Missing Persons. Juice Newton and Missing Persons, I have no trouble remembering. The other three only appear vaguely familiar at this point.
Vernon is lifted on to the stage from below while striking a strange pose with one arm pointed at a forty-five degree angle like he is trying to signal a first down and his other arm bent at the elbow so that his hand is touching his head. He could have been debating dancing “The Sprinkler.” Vernon welcomes us to the series finale. Yeah, right, like I’m going to believe that. He informs us that although the studio audience chose Thelma as the winner, the online audience preferred Glass Tiger. That was the second straight week that the studio audience and the public disagreed.
Vernon then indulges in rhetorical questions asking who the studio audience will prefer tonight and who will be the viewing audience’s favorite. He promises we will soon find out. Not that soon Vernon; especially not when it comes to the viewing audience. Vernon explains again the formula of the show. Each act will perform their greatest hit. Later in the show each artist will return and give their interpretation of a current smash hit. After that, it is up to the studio audience to choose the winner. Ameriquest will then make a $20,000 contribution to the winner’s charity of choice.
Vernon with a straight face intones that the first artist “upped the ante and delivered a multiple platinum flush.” He feels the need to shout, “It’s Juice Newton!” We see retro Juice crooning “Angel of the Morning” with her signature long, curly hair. Vernon’s voice over identifies her hits as infectious country pop smashes and reminds us that Juice managed to *gag* squeeze three top ten singles from her album, “Juice.” Juice also won a Grammy in 1983 and sold more than 10 million albums worldwide.
Vernon tells us that Juice will be performing “Queen of Hearts.” When she comes on stage, she looks great. If anything, she could stand to gain a little weight. Her hair is at least a foot shorter than it used to be and her sleeveless top shows off her toned arms. Her performance is a little flat in places but fun. She manages to get the audience clapping along by the end.
Afterwards, Vernon says first things first. He thinks they must share the same hairstylist. Juice says they have great hairstylists. When Vernon asks where her name came from she explains that it is from extended family. She probably would have picked something different but it works for her. Much to my horror she tells Vernon that her cover choice is Ashlee Simpson’s “Pieces of Me.” Nooooooo! If she has to do a Simpson song, do something by Homer.
Vernon introduces the next performers, Animotion, as having started the 1986 pop revolution. According to Vernon, the group used an arsenal of teased hair, mascara, and synthesizers to lead the electro pop army that overtook the airwaves in the mid-1980’s. Their greatest hit was “Obsession” a “chilly tale of unrequited lust.” If NBC is going to insist on bringing this show back in the future, they need to hire a new writing staff.
Out of the original six members of the band, it appears that three or four of them are back for this performance including the two lead singers and a guitarist although only the two lead singers are showcased. The lead singers look great except that rather than visiting Juice and Vernon’s hair stylist, the female lead singer went to the local dog groomer to get her hair done. That or she has a Lhasa Apso sitting on her head. The audience is pumped. As soon as they start singing, I remember the song. In my opinion, they sound great complete with synthesizers. Of course, my view point could be a little skewed by nostalgia. The two singers play to the audience and dance their way through the performance. At the end, they strike a pose together.
Vernon comes on stage and says great performance. When he tells them it looks like you are having a great time, they say we are. Vernon asks how it felt to be part of the electro-synthetic pop craze. The male singer says that they were part of the synthetic pop craze but they also had a hot rock and roll guitarist Don Kirkpatrick who gave us a little bit of an edge. Don then steps forward. Later, Animotion will be performing “Days Go By” by Dirty Vegas.
Let The Memory Play
Vernon welcomes us back from commercial and tells us that the next performer sang of sonic solidarity and got the whole world moving its feet. We segue to a video of Shannon. The second I hear the song, I remember her. Vernon identifies Shannon by saying trained as a jazz singer; the Brooklyn-born Shannon found her footing as a techno queen and disco diva. Her big hit was the 1984 single, “Let the Music Play” which was an instant dance club hit. The song went to number one. She stuck around the dance charts for a decade afterwards.
Shannon emerges on stage to reprise “Let the Music Play.” In the old photo displayed at the back of the stage before Shannon appears, she looks like a female Prince before he even became “The Symbol Formerly Known as Prince.” Shannon jogs on to the front of the stage in a long, gold top that looks like a teddy covered by a much shorter blazer. Once on stage, she starts busting some pretty decent looking moves. There are two sets of male and female dancers behind her who gyrate while she belts out the song. At one point, Shannon who is clearly reveling in the moment drops down and does a push up. The only push up most women her age are interested in is a push up bra.
Vernon asks the audience to go crazy for Shannon. He tells her that the song has definitely stood the test of time and asks her why she thinks that is. Shannon responds that it is because it makes everyone happy and then turns to the audience and says that it kept you guys grooving. Vernon agrees that it definitely puts a smile on everyone’s face. He adds that it makes him do robotics. We learn that when Shannon comes back she will do a version of “Foolish” by Ashanti. If she’d said she was going to do a Britney Spears’ song this might have been the end of the recap as I would be running around covering my ears and screaming.
Next up according to Vernon are *mumble* siblings *mumble* who used the power of positivity to become hip hop heroes, PM Dawn. Vernon’s writer describes them as having cast a spell over America in the early ‘90’s. I must have been out of the country at the time. The group features brothers Prince Be and DJ Minute Mix. PM Dawn had three top five hits. Tonight, PM Dawn is going to do their smash hit “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss.” That would be their smash hit I’ve never heard before.
Three guys emerge on stage. It appears that the other two have to help the larger of the two brothers, Prince Be who is clad in jeans and a glittery black jacket down the stairs. DJ Minute Mix is wearing what looks like a bronze velour sweat suit. One of the three will remain a mystery throughout the show. PM Dawn’s performance is very energetic and well done. The audience clearly enjoys it. Maybe because I don’t remember ever hearing the song before, I’m not that into it.
When Vernon asks DJ Minute Mix if there was ever any question who would be the front man, he says no. His big brother’s the front man. When they return, PM Dawn will perform Puddle of Mud’s “Blurry.”
Missing Several Members
Vernon opens the next segment by saying now then, it was blonde ambition that helped this 80’s new wave band find the top of the charts. He then makes a vaguely disturbing noise and hand gesture which is meant to indicate that he thought Missing Persons’ singer was hot. He says that big hair, fish bowl brassieres, and quirky day glow pop got the band noticed by music fans across the country. The front person was squeaky-voiced sexpot Dale Bosio who was joined by a band of virtuoso musicians. Missing Persons hit the upper reaches of the pop charts with hits like “Walking in LA,” “Destination Unknown,” and “Words.” According to Vernon, the band disappeared in 1986 but is back tonight. Can one person from a band be called a band? Discuss.
Tonight, Dale and her not band mates perform Missing Persons’ “Words.” Dale pops up on stage wearing a mobster suit complete with hat and sporting white and pink-striped hair. It’s clear that she benefited from in studio editing. Her squeak is evident and the song seems not to have stood the test of time; at least, not to me.
Vernon still fawns over Dale, but only after shouting “Missing Persons!” He seems to enjoy yelling a lot. He asks Dale where she learned to squeak while she sings. She shrugs and says it is just a natural thing and then demonstrates for him. He says that I understand that a little later you are going to be performing Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” She acknowledges that is indeed the song she has chosen.
Pieces of Information
First up is Juice Newton. Vernon introduces her update video with yet another tired line. We learn that Juice lives in San Diego with her three little dogs that all sleep under the covers with her, her iguana named Bob, and several fish. Juice is making new music all the time and is away from home about 100 days a year. When she is home, she rides her horse almost every single day. She seems to have a pretty comfortable life.
Unfortunately, she hasn’t changed her mind about covering Ashlee Simpson. Juice looks great again in a strappy top, just below the knee skirt and boots. She does a better job singing “Pieces of You” than Ashlee but that is hardly saying anything. She does seem to hit a few off notes but on the whole does a good job with an insipid song.
Vernon reminds us that next up is Animotion. Vernon deadpans that “they plugged into our obsessions two decades ago, but how are Animotion wired these days.” I give Vernon credit for being able to utter these lines without giggling. First, we visit the male lead singer in Portland, Oregon. I had to google his name because the show didn’t seem to think this was information any of us would want to know. His name is Bill Wadhams. Bill explains to us that Animotion’s old keyboard player, Paul Antonelli who is now the music director for NBC’s soap, “Passions” introduced him to someone who trained Bill to be a graphic designer. Bill’s two oldest sons are in a band called Rex Aquarium. Bill works on graphic design for them and consults with his sons on their website.
Next, we visit Fresno, California where Animotion’s lead singer whose name Google reveals to be Astrid Plane resides with her husband, Charles Ottario. Charles was Animotion’s bass player. It is not clear to me if Charles was performing on tonight’s show. Charles says that we were together before Animotion and after the band broke up. Astrid says that the most exciting thing they’ve ever done together is have a daughter.
Right after Animotion broke up, Charles decided to learn how to fly which was something he had always wanted to do. He was going to be a flight instructor but he ran out of money. Despite having run out of money, he, Astrid, and their daughter seem to have a comfortable life together.
While I still hate Astrid’s hair, I thoroughly enjoy Animotion’s performance of “Days Gone By.” I’d definitely go see them live. Astrid and Bill weave a highly stylized dance through the number. Part way through she discards her blazer and continues to bop around the stage. To this point, this is my favorite performance of the evening.
To Be or Not to Be?
After Vernon welcomes us back, he introduces Shannon as the “musical match that ignited dance music.” We learn that Shannon now resides in White Stone, New York. Shannon likes living there because it is not far from Manhattan and in the area near her home, there are huge rocks which protrude out into the ocean. She loves the water. Shannon shows off her new toy, a cool looking 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible. Shannon has been working on a new cd at several studios in Manhattan.
As Shannon comes back on stage, she has a huge smile on her face. Shannon looks great and sounds even better during her rendition of “Foolish.” She does appear to have raided Thelma Houston’s wardrobe or at least used her for inspiration as the hemline of her skirt is noticeably higher in front. The audience seems to appreciate the way Shannon grooved her way through the song.
Next up is PM Dawn. Prince Be is now living in Howell, New Jersey. He describes his home as South Jersey close to Point Pleasant which is “very pleasant.” How clever Prince Be. We see Prince Be playing with his son and daughter. He explains that these days he is kind of watching his kids have all this crazy, silly fun. His brother explains that their hobby is listening to records. Prince Be adds that they have been collecting records for 20 some years. Prince Be likes old games from the 1980’s. We see him playing Centipede in his home arcade to prove the point. Prince Be’s future goal is to be a successful vegetarian. Whoa, I can honestly say I didn’t see that one coming.
Vernon introduces PM Dawn’s rendition of “Blurry.” The brothers are sitting side by side on stage. Prince Be is sporting a blue outfit while DJ Minute Mix is in all black. I like this performance much more than their first song. The mysterious third member of the group who must be in a witness protection program hands out flowers to the audience while wearing a PM Dawn t-shirt.
Vernon returns for his last cheesy introduction of the season. He says that “She rode high on pop’s new wave, but is Dale Bosio of Missing Persons still in the swim. We learn that Dale is residing in Philadelphia. Dale much to her own disbelief is a single mother with two sons. She never thought she would be a mother but is very protective. Her sons are what she lives for. She tells us that in general, she thought by 50 that I’d quit. We see her singing while she voices over that if you are doing what you totally believe in you’ll succeed. Dale, I’d like to suggest that retiring might not be a bad idea. You should at least consider that pink hair after 50 is a no-no.
Vernon introduces Dale’s performance of “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” She is wearing the same outfit as for her first number and her voice sounds really rough. She makes some random gestures with her left hand. When she finishes, the audience gives her a polite round of applause.
Vernon is kind and tells us that we have just been treated to five great performances. He reminds us that the artist with the most votes will receive a $20,000 donation to their favorite charity. In Vernon’s opinion, it is going to be a really tough decision. In my opinion, Animotion or Shannon should win.
Farewell And Adieu
When we come back from the final commercial break, Vernon announces that the votes have been tallied. He also tells us that it is the closest vote they have ever had. In the end, the audience’s choice is PM Dawn. Vernon offers them congratulations and discovers that their charity of choice is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Vernon thanks the performers and hopefully says good night for a while. PM Dawn is back on stage and performing for the audience as we leave the season.
Please let there not be a sixth episode. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org