Monday, June 10, 2013

30 Day Song Challenge (The Sequel), Day 10: A Song You Love From the 80s

Let me just begin with the plot-spoiler for today's post:

I do not love 80s music.

In fact, there is very little about the 80s in general that I even like, much less love.  And I have almost no nostalgic feelings for that decade at all.  I don't like big-banged, hair-sprayed hair.  I don't like the sound of a synthesizer.  I don't like leg-warmers.  I don't like Reagan or the Cold War or anything celebrated in the film Wall Street.  I don't like slap-bracelets or waterbeds or jazzercise or My Little Pony or  neon-colored anything.  I also don't like epidemics (see: AIDS and crack and famine) or New Wave or metal of any kind (heavy, glam or otherwise).  To this day, the smell of Love's Baby Soft makes me throw up in my mouth a little.  I don't even like, and didn't like at the time, Judy Blume.  The people/trends/phenomena from the 80s that I do like now I only came to like well after their heyday, that is, only after liking them came to be infused with a healthy dose of irony.  Maybe my lack of affection for the 80s is grounded in the more generalized I-hate-everything-about-life disposition that defines pre-teen girls, which I was in the 80s.  I don't know.  At any rate, unlike the previous three days in this 30 Day Song Challenge (The Sequel), and unlike the subsequent two days to come, I don't find choosing today's song to be all that difficult.  I didn't even find the process of determining it all that enjoyable, to be honest. 

Did I mention I don't like 80s music?

An aside, in my own defense:  of course it's true, if I'm being generous, that there are many bands/artists/songs from the 80s that I "like."  I mean, you can't completely excise an entire decade of music from your catalog of appreciation and still call yourself a music-lover.  But, on the whole, this is my least favorite decade of music in the last century of American popular music.  Most of what I would say I really "love" of 80s music I love for reasons that are entirely different from, if not outright opposed to, the general criteria I employ for determining what counts as good music.  That includes even the absolutely idiosyncratic criteria that I would generally let pass as acceptable ones, like the "this-marks-a-momentous-moment-in-my life" criterion.  For better or worse, there are no songs from the 80s that signal those momentous-moments in my life. I did not drink my first alcoholic drink or smoke my first cigarette or lose my virginity or break the law for the first time or tell my first devastating lie or even have my heart really broken in the 80s. So, none of the quasi-objective or subjective criteria I usually employ hold.  It's not that I don't, or can't, "get" what it is that people love about 80s music.  It's just that, to the extent that I get it at all, I understand that affection more abstractly than I do viscerally.  As I said on Day One of this challenge, taste is a funny thing.

To wit, it will come as no suprise, I suspect, that my pick for today is Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," not only my favorite song from the 80s but one of the best music videos of the then-still-nascent MTV era:



I won't prattle on about how incredible this song is, which it is, or how non-representative of the 80s it is, which is probably also true. I will say that there are a lot of artists that people associate with the 80s-- Madonna, The Cure, Fleetwood Mac, Eric B and Rakim, The Smiths, Salt n' Pepa, Joy Division, The Pixies, Bon Jovi, Public Enemy, The Pogues-- but, with the possible exception of Prince, none of them define the 80s in my personal experience like Michael Jackson does. 

MJ had been at it for almost 20 years by the time the 80s rolled around, which is when he released the record-breaking album Thriller.  I was a young and impressionable 11-year-old at the time, but Thriller was the first album I bought with my own, very meager, allowance money.  What I didn't know at the time, but was ecstatic to find out upon my purchase, was that Thriller came with not one, BUT TWO, full-size posters of Michael inside the album.  That was the first and only poster of a musical artist that I ever hung on my bedroom wall. (*Swoon*)  For the record, during those same years, hanging on my younger brother's wall-- and I am sure he will order my assasination for reporting this-- was a poster of Alyssa Milano.  If history is written by the victors, let me be the first to write: 

Little brother, I WON.

-----------------------------
Nostalgic?  Check out my Day 10 entry for the 2011 version of the 30 Day Song Challenge.

1 comment:

Valerie said...

You don't like Judy Blume. I feel like I don't know you at all!