Monday, November 10, 2008

Sammy Hagar: Winner Takes it All (1987)

There was Rocky. There was Rambo. And in 1987, there was Lincoln Hawk, another of Sylvester Stallone's strong but silent, down on his luck, action-drama protagonists.

Over the Top, like many of the great action films of the decade, the film was driven in no small part by its soundtrack, with the most notable contribution coming from future Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar.

Sylvester Stallone himself participates in the video, which is thematically centred around the storyline of the film. Over the Top was Rocky-like in many respects, featuring a hard-working underdog taking a one-in-a-million run at the armwrestling championship. The video also features Over the Top villain and real-life armwrestling legend Rick Zumwalt.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Madonna: Papa Don't Preach (1986)

It is among several contenders for Madonna's most controversial song. 1986's Papa Don't Preach set the Bible Belt on fire with it's focus on teen pregnancy and may have caused more of a ruckus with the moral majority than her pointed brazier.

One of the flagship singles from the immensely popular True Blue album, the music video co-starred Danny Aiello (The Last Don, The Professional) as Madonna's distressed father, trying to come to terms with her situation and decision.

The song was covered almost 20 years later by Ozzy Osbourne's kid Kelly. Although you have to wonder what Ozzy Osbourne could preach to his children not to do, with any credibility.

And here's the live version...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

General Public: Tenderness (1984)

It is one of those 1980s songs that simply screams "1980s soundtrack." It's hard to hear the song without imagining it rolling over the end credits of some teen comedy. The song is Tenderness by General Public. General Public was created from the remnants of another notable 80s band, The English Beat.

Tenderness still stands as General Public's signature song and calling card. And true to its "soundtrack feel" it appeared in the popular 1985 teen comedy Weird Science, which starred Anthony Michael Hall, Bill Paxton, Kelly LeBrock, and a young Robert Downey Jr. working his way up the Hollywood ladder.

The song also resurfaced in the 1990s teen comedy Clueless.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jim Capaldi: Something So Strong (1989)

When you have Eric Roberts headlining a film that is written by a martial artist (in which he himself will play the lead role)...and the film involves a martial arts are probably on track for a 1980s cheesefest with some pretty good action a synth-guitar soundtrack, and more than a couple montages.

That's indeed what we have with the 1989 film Best of the Best, also starring James Earl Jones. There are training montages. Bonding montages. There is even a contemplative slowly riding a motorcycle around the highway montage. But it was the '80s and if you did it any other went to jail.

Here we have the theme song from the film, Something So Strong by Jim Capaldi, also known for working the band Traffic.

Jim Capaldi became something of a figure in the fight against cancer when he succumbed to the battle a couple years ago. His passing inspired a tribute concert with many notable rock and roll names.

You can visit Jim Capaldi's OFFICIAL SITE to learn more about the man and his battle or this BBC ARTICLE that discusses his passing and his charity endeavors.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Joe Lynn Turner: Heartless (1985)

And we may as well finish our course in the soundtrack to 1985's The Heavenly Kid with this strong offering from Joe Lynn Turner. It is Heartless, appropriately played during a party scene where the true character of the stock hot-chick-with-no-heart is revealed.

You are undoubtedly familiar with this character from any and all teen 1980s movies. Pamela Wells in Teen Wolf. Beth in Better Off Dead. If you didn't have a heartless hot chick in your '80s high school movie, then the film was an impostor.

Howard Hewett: Obsession (1985)

Well, here we are back at the 1985 film The Heavenly Kid. The fact of the matter is that this soundtrack was one of the most consistently catchy and consistently 80s musical scores to provide a film's backbone in that decade. Whatever adventures Lewis Smith and Jason Gedrick were getting up to, they were always supported by the film's strong musical spine.

Howard Hewett was part of the 1980s group Shalamar, which also made contributions to the popular and iconic soundtracks to Footloose and Beverly Hills Cop. Here is Obsession, Hewett's entry to the quintessentially 80s score for The Heavenly Kid.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Frank Stallone: Far From Over (1983)

And yet again from the files of songs that had an integral role in making a successful movie what it was, we have Far From Over, ostensibly the theme song from the 1983 film Staying Alive. The song's contribution to the film earned it a Golden Globe nomination.

Staying Alive was the sequel to the 1979 hit Saturday Night Fever, with Travolta reprising his role as the egotistical Tony Manero. This time, Tony has graduated from the discos and is trying to break into Broadway. The film was written and directed by Sylvester Stallone (with a two-second cameo appearance). The result was an intense rags-to-riches fusion of broadway dancing and pursuit of the American Dream. Oddly enough, it worked.

The Stallone connection explains the appearance of Frank Stallone, both in a supporting role in the film, as well as featured prominently on the soundtrack. Frank appeared in small roles or on the soundtracks of many of Sylvester's films in the 1980s, including Rocky III, Over the Top, and Rambo: First Blood Part II.

Here is the original recording of the song with clips from the film.

And here is a very strong 2008 live performance of the song, 25 years later, by the Frank Stallone Band. As you can hear, Frank still has the chops.

This article wouldn't be complete without the cheeseball theatrical trailer for the film.

And last but not least, the longevity and disco-dream-iconic nature of the song is attested to by its inclusion in the trailer for the Saturday Night Live spinoff film Superstar.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Jamie Bond: Animal Attraction (1985)

Well, a huge part of the success of the teen favorite The Heavenly Kid was the soundtrack, and from start to finish it delivered. Here we have the ambience for the a nerdy Jason Gedrick's "extreme makeover." Animal Attraction by Jamie Bond.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Jon Fiore: Out on the Edge (1985)

Anyone who saw The Heavenly Kid in 1985 can't help but look back fondly on the formulaic film and the quintessentially 80s memories it inspires. Those memories are, without a doubt, closely tied with the theme song to the film: Out on the Edge by Jon Fiore.

The film starred Richard Mulligan of Empty Nest fame, as well as a young Jason Gedrick and character actor Lewis Smith in a rare leading role. This was one of a handful of quiet 80s teen classics that have been all-but-forgotten in the intervening years...except for here on the 80s Music Channel.

Madonna: Dress You Up (1985)

It stands as one of Madonna's most remixed songs and possesses a quiet "staying power" that has allowed it to endure despite not being one of her highest selling singles. Dress You Up was released as a single from the Like a Virgin album in 1985, peaking at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart even though it never enjoyed the benefit of having an official video made to accompany it.

Here is a live performance of the song from the Virgin Tour in 1985, which ultimately served as the de facto video.

And here is a fusion of the song with Material Girl from the 1987 Who's That Girl tour. This was, in fact, the last tour during which the song was performed by Madonna as part of a concert set.

One of the more unique unofficial arrangements is the following Forever in Love Remix...

Finally, and this was met with a mixed reception at the time, here is a sample of the Gap's 1990s Dress You Up ad campaign. Some thought it was trendy and fashionable. Others thought a dance classic was being murdered with a cheap gimmick. And others still were simply happy to have one of their favorite Madonna songs dusted off and appearing between segments of Melrose Place.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Tragically Hip: Small Town Bringdown (1987)

They later went on to become possibly Canada's most popular band "within the borders of their home country." The hard rock poets led by Gordon Downie mixed sometime hard-driving and sometimes off-kilter melodies with their own brand of poetic lyricism to join musicians like Tom Cochrane as homegrown acts who enjoyed moderate internationally but were music superheroes in the land of the Maple Leaf and permanent fixtures in Canadiana musical folklore.

Small Town Bringdown was the lead single from their 1987 self-titled album and arguably the hardest rocking song they ever produced.

While they enjoyed greater chart success with later songs in the 1990s, some felt that the future offerings would be a little more self-indulgent and poetry-focused and longed for the Tragically Hip to still prove they could rock out like they did in the late 1980s.

Tragically Hip covers remain popular and common throughout Canada, as many musicians have been inspired by the band. This cover by Ronnie and the Law is one example.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pretty Poison: Nighttime (1984)

1980s two-hit-wonder dance act Pretty Poison had a bona fide smash with Catch Me (I'm Falling) in 1987. However, while Nighttime was originally released to little fanfare in 1984, it was met with a much warmer reception four years later and became the group's second significant hit.

Here is the 12" extended version.

And the band was also wise to the virtues of targeting the latin market. Here is the simultaneously released Spanish recording.

Lou Gramm: Lost in the Shadows (1987)

Well, as it turns out, sometimes an iconic movie has two songs that make it what it is. In this case, not only does Gerard McMann's Cry Little Sister become inseparable from the 1987 cult hit The Lost Boys. So, too, does Lost in the Shadows, the soundtrack contribution performed by Lou Gramm, the lead singer from Foreigner and owner of one of the clearest and most characteristic voices of the 1980s.

Here is the original video from the song, featuring some selective and well-timed imagery from the film.

It is also somewhat cool that in this video, Lou Gramm looks like he could well have been the fifth Lost Boy. He could easily have had the role portrayed by Alex Winter (a.k.a. Bill S. Preston, Esq). There he is, way in the back...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Gerard McMann: Cry Little Sister (1987)

Every once in a while a song becomes so intertwined with an iconic movie of its era that the song immediately recalls imagery from the film. Likewise, the movie just wouldn't be the movie it is without that particular piece of music.

One such instance is Cry Little Sister by Gerard McMann, the theme from the 1987 cult classic The Lost Boys which starred Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Corey Haim and Corey Feldman.

Here is the studio recording...

And here we have the 2008 cover of the song by Alden for The Lost Boys II: The Tribe.

The song has inspired numerous covers, especially by heavily goth-induced bands, and has lent itself well to varying interpretations and arrangements. Here is one such rendition, by Carfax Abbey...

And as a special treat, here is the original theatrical trailer for The Lost Boys.

Pretty Poison: Catch Me (I'm Falling) (1987)

Pretty Poison, hailing from Philadelphia, was a classic 80s two-hit wonder. Fronted by Jade Starling, their calling card was the 1987 smash hit, "Catch Me (I'm Falling)," a song that went to #1 on the Billboard Dance charts in 1987.

The song was also featured on the soundtrack for the movie "Hiding Out" which starred Jon "Don't Call Me Duckie" Cryer.

Here we have quite a good extended version of the song.

The song has enjoyed good longevity in terms of samples and remixes and is a dance favorite at any retro night.

Here is the Spanish Ultimix...

To this day, Jade Starling is still active in the techno scene. Feel free to visit JADE STARLING'S MYSPACE.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cutting Crew: I Just Died in Your Arms (1987)

"I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight" still stands as one of the most popular 1980s pop songs in terms of lasting power and cool factor. The landmark single from the album "Broadcast" (the first ever #1 album for Virgin Records), the song itself also reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

Cutting Crew and frontman Nick Van Eede never had another smash hit, but this one contribution remains one of the high points of 1987, a year that was one of the stronger entries of the decade.

Here is the 1990s cover by Intonation (feat. Joee), erroniously credited in the video to Stevie B.

Here we get a glimpse of the remix featuring Jay-Z...

And a techno mix by Jorg Schmid...

And finally, a more mellow cover by the Northern Kings. It seems a bit Iglesiasized...

Evidently, this song has enjoyed a great deal of staying power and inspired numerous takes on the lyrics and melody that extend beyond those listed here.

Nick Van Eede brought together a new lineup for Cutting Crew in 2006 and this version of the band still exists today. Here is their OFFICIAL SITE.

And here is a collection of REMIXES over at Retro Remixes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Alphaville: Big in Japan (1984)

And in honor of our inaugural POST ON JAPANESE 80s MUSIC featuring X Japan, we have a song that emblemized the 1980s fascination with all things Japanese.

This fascination made itself evident in such films as "Gung Ho" with Michael Keaton, "Mr. Baseball" with Tom Selleck, and the action classic "Black Rain" with Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia and "the Clint Eastwood of Japan" Ken Takakura.

"Big in Japan" was the debut single for iconic 80s pop group Alphaville.

Here we have a 1988 remix of the hit single.

And a techno remix...

X Japan: Kurenai (1989)

Well, the 80s didn't only occur in the west. Asia had its own wave, its own Bon Jovis, its own Def Leppards. Here we have "Kurenai," a 1989 single released by Japanese supergroup X Japan.

And here we have another live version from 1997.

X Japan still stands as one of the most enduring and popular acts in Asia, its appeal having outlasted many upstart acts over the last 20 years.

Here is the band's OFFICIAL SITE (in Nihongo).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A-ha: The Sun Always Shines on TV (1985)

It only makes sense to follow up "Take on Me" with the video that was ostensibly its sequel... "The Sun Always Shines on TV."

Like the previous song, the single was released from the "Hunting High and Low" album, one of the most rock solid pop albums of the 1980s.

This powerhouse trio from Norway made their mark with a catchy sound, boyish good looks, lead singer Morten Harket's vocal range, and a series of memorable and creative videos.

Here is a live acoustic performance of the song from 2007 in Kiev.

And here is an extended remix...

To this day, A-ha is still going strong. Their latest albums have not made enormous waves in North America but continue to enjoy huge success in Europe.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A-ha: Take on Me (1985)

Due to the overwhelming success of this single, A-ha is sometimes erroneously remembered as a one-hit wonder.

The video was revolutionary for its time. Along with Peter Gabriel, A-ha established themselves as the visual masters of the 1980s, taking full advantage of the opportunities the MTV medium provided.

Here is the prototypical recording and video of the song, which preceded its 1985 worldwide mega-release with the comic book video.

The 1985 allbum, Hunting High and Low, from which the single was released, was one of the most consistent and listenable albums of the decade, and featured a number of singles which also utilized A-ha's distinctive visual style.

The song has endured several covers, including this version by Reel Big Fish, that made an appearance in the 1998 Trey Parker and Matt Stone film Baseketball.

And perhaps most importantly, there now exists a version of the song where the lyrics are a literal interpretation of the video. Pretty hard not to laugh...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Real Life: Send Me an Angel (1983)

In 1983, Australian band Real Life, fronted by David Sterry, burst onto the international music scene with a hit that still stands today as a strong 80s favorite, "Send Me an Angel."

While a healthy portion of 80s pop tends to be fondly remembered for nostalgic reasons only, to this day, Real Life's signature piece still inspires people to say, "That is a cool song."

This is the video from the 1989 re-release, where they upped the visual production value a little.

And here is one of the best of the many remixes inspired by this 80s classic.

The song also appeared in the 1986 teen BMX movie "Rad," which has since fallen into obscurity but was popular at the time.

Real Life is still actively touring to this day. While the lineup has seen some revisions from time to time, David Sterry is still holding it together and producing some quality music.

Feel free to visit their OFFICIAL SITE and see what they've been up to.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dead Or Alive: You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) (1985)

The 1980s were a confusing time. The public was having trouble getting their minds around the nuances of time travel in "Back to the Future Part II." People thought WWF wrestling still might be real. And Dead or Alive Pete Burns was making Boy George look like Clint Eastwood.

Dead or Alive burst onto the scene and quickly cornered the market for power-glam-disco and sealed their spot in 1980s immortality with their 1985 album "Youthquake" and its smash single "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)."

The song has had incredible staying power, inspiring an endless array of remixes. Dead or Alive themselves changed up and re-released a new version of the song in 2003... Along with a new version of Pete Burns...

And for the final proof of the song's immortality, we need look no further than Opera Man himself...

You can also visit the OFFICIAL SITE for the current incarnation of the band.

And HERE you can catch some of the remixed versions at Retro Remixes.

A Flock of Seagulls: I Ran !1982)

It was the height of early 1980s pop-pretension. A Flock of Seagulls, with their bizarrely haute-couture-coiffed lead singer Mike Score, was soaring up the charts with "I Ran (So Far Away)".

The signature song of one of the 80s' most distinctive-looking and prototypical New Wave acts went a little something like this...

Due to the original band name, Mike Score's memorable haircut (parodied recently in a Diet Pepsi commercial), and some creative but very synthy songwriting and arrangements, this band tends to be one of the first to be mentioned as an example of why people either love or hate the 1980s.

Here is a live performance of the song from 1983.

And this live version, also from 1983, I much prefer...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Eight Seconds: Kiss You When It's Dangerous (1985)

They were pretty much a one hit wonder, but with "Kiss You (When It's Dangerous)", pop band Eight Seconds became one of Canada's most fondly remembered contributors to the 1980s music scene. Not only was it a catchy and melodic tune, but it had a moody but heartfelt video with high production values. And that was saying a fair bit for Canadian productions at the time.

The video actually features a pretty cool artistic theme of the changing of the seasons.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dino: I Like It (1989)

It was the late 1980s, and the public could certainly not be accused of buying substance over style. Enter Dino, king of the pre-Gerardo bicep-curling mullets. You wanted to hate him, but he was armed with a catchy track, "I Like It."

The video is a fairly sharp, Paula Abdul / Samantha Fox / Michael Damian / Milli Vanilli-esque production. It was the waning days of the 1980s, right before the Kid n' Play, TLC and Kris Kross era.

Here is a live version of the song. Though it sounds suspiciously like a remixed version of the studio track, it is worth it just to see the choreographed Carlton-style background dancing. Don't blame Dino. It was 1989.

I don't know why the audience was primarily full of dudes, though.

For another sample of Dino, circa 1989, here is the song "Summer Girls", from the same album, "24/7".