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Thursday, March 06, 2008

SOUND & FURY: THE CURSE OF "WE BUILT THIS CITY" (and other Eighties throwbacks)

About a week ago I was hanging out at a certain bar (that you may have read about on this blog from time to time) where the sweet new bartender, a cutie just six months past twenty-one, was playing selections from her ipod in an attempt to lend the place a fun late night atmosphere. Unfortunately, like many her age, she's apparently fascinated by some of the more egregious examples of 1980's pop music, songs that when even a few moments from them are played send me into a murderous rage.

I have no idea how twenty-somethings became turned on to the musical horrors generated in the eighties, and those whom I've asked about it don't claim nostalgia as a motivating factor. In fact, very few of them recall tunes like "Take On Me" or "Total Eclipse Of the Heart" from their formative years, instead somehow stumbling upon them in their late adolescence. Having long ago given up on pop music radio, I have no idea if eighties tunes were at some point during the last fifteen years returned to heavy rotation, but it truly blows my mind to see the soulless "classics" of 1980's rock-as-product resurrected from the grave of mediocrity and cherished by a new generation, all without a trace of irony. Can any of you younger readers who listen to and enjoy this stuff explain it to me? Please?

So anyway the music in the bar was a cavalcade of aural torture, elicting loud cries of protest from myself, the kitchen guy, and the regulars, most of whom had experienced and hated the bartender's musical selections the first time around. Eager to please and somewhat confused with our very vocal revolt, the bartender was kind enough to skip past the songs that caused us to wail loudest, but eventually the hour grew late and the older crowd gave way to a twenty-something throng, leaving me as the lone protester. I realized that my own agony would be ignored in favor of those of a like mind to the bartender, so I behaved myself and endured, engaging a few of the remaining regulars in conversation.

Until "We Built This City" came on.

What hath MTV wraught?

Regularly topping the list in surveys of the worst pop songs of all time, "We Built This City" stands as the epitome of corporate rock and a tragic example of a once-great group of performers fucking themselves in the ass without the benefit of Astroglide. Including some former members of the Jefferson Airplane ("White Rabbit," "Somebody To Love") in their roster, Starship (formerly Jefferson Starship during the 1970's) churned out this appallingly bad anthem to the rockin' awesomeness that was Los Angeles in the early 1970's, and it has gone on to garner much negative press and inspire the brutal drinking game "Built This City," in which each participant is handed a sixer of Budweiser tall boys and is expected to consume all six within the time it takes for "We Built This City" to be played in its entirety. If the six packs are not finished, each player is given another six pack, the song is started once again, and the unlucky participant must now finish the first sixer as well as the new one, or else the cycle begins anew, ad infinitum. "Beer Hunter," eat your heart out.

When the odious tune began to play in the bar, I yelled "No! NO! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" until the bartender reluctantly skipped to the next song, which turned out to be the agonizingly mediocre and unwelcomely overplayed "Gloria" by Laura Brannigan. With that I realized I could take no more, so I put on my coat and beat a hasty retreat, calls of "Please don't leave" following in my wake, nearly drowned out by about fifteen soused barflies yelling "Guh-loria! I think I gotcher nuh-um-buh!!!"

Yet more evidence that the predictions made in the movie IDIOCRACY are coming closer and closer to becoming reality.


Jared said...

All I have to say is, "Once upon a time I was falling in love and now I'm only falling apart..." sniff, sniff...

Scraps said...

Seriously, you've got a problem with "Take On Me"?

Laser Rocket Arm said...

Okay, I should probably just bend over and take my anal reaming like a woman but ... "We Built This City"? Not as such a horrible fucking song as it seems. Yes, the beat and tune are pretty bland eighties, but the lyrics didn't suck quite that hard. Compared to "Nothin's Gonna Stop Us Now," which SHOULD be the Worst Fucking Eighties Song Of All Time, "WBTC" is actually somewhat literate. Right band, wrong tune.

"Someone always playing
Corporation games
Who cares, they're always changing
Corporation aims.
We just want to dance here
Someone stole the stage
They call us irresponsible,
write us off the page."

In other words, FUCK YOU, I LIKE THIS SONG.

Mzilla said...

I blame VH1. Once MTV lite, MTV's sister channel now thrives on "classic" video content. I'm willing to bet every one of those unbearable songs had a matching video.Young un's watch the videos, laugh at the cheesy outfits, keytars, and poofy hair and to them it's kitsch."Come on Eileen" is remebered as being by "that band in the overalls".