A to Z and Back Again Week 10: Just Can’t Get Enough

JustCantGetEnough5

So, after last night’s horrible spewage of personal issues, let’s get back to a more fun post. And this week is definitely fun, since I’ve got Volume 5 of Rhino’s Just Can’t Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80’s series. This is a 15-volume set of 80’s new wave goodness (well, technically, the first disc is 70’s to show the precursor to the 80’s new wave, but still), and that’s not even counting the four special theme discs – Christmas, Halloween, women, and dance mixes. This set is awesome. Love, love, love it. Granted, over the course of 15 discs, you’re bound to hear some 80’s tracks you’d rather not, but there are more than enough goodies to make up for it. How does this volume stand up? Let’s do a track by track analysis, shall we?

1. “I Want Candy” Bow Wow Wow – Okay, this song can easily go into the category of way, way, way overplayed ’80s tunes. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still a fun song. I’m not always in the mood for it, but often, I’ll just find myself singing along happily.

2. “I Know What Boys Like” The Waitresses – This is the ultimate snarky pricktease song. Yeah, we know what you like, and we’ll totally make you think you’re getting some, but oops! You’re not. The closing “Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah.” just rubs it in more. It’s definitely got a clunky early 80s vibe, but I still like it.

3. “Kids In America” Kim Wilde – Love this song. Love it. I think this song may be responsible for putting me in a good mood this morning. I even like The Muffs’ version on the Clueless soundtrack, but it’s not quite as good as Kim Wilde’s original. And there’s just something ironic about a British popster singing “We’re the kids in America.”

4. “Love Plus One” Haircut One Hundred – This is a song I have no strong feelings about. I mean, if it came on the radio, I wouldn’t change the channel, but I wouldn’t object if someone else did either. It’s bland and inoffensive. Eh.

5. “Someday, Someway” Marshall Crenshaw – You know, I just finished reading Rob Sheffield’s Love is a Mixtape (which is a great memoir, by the way), and Marshall Crenshaw was one of the artists brought up. I kept thinking, I know I’ve heard of him, but I don’t think I’ve heard any of his stuff. Except obviously I haven, since he’s on this collection. As for the song itself, it’s not too bad, but doesn’t exactly inspire me to seek out any more of his stuff. Although, listening to the lyrics after last night, I can’t help think that they probably reflect what goes on in Indie Boy’s when I’m in a mood.

6. “Hold on to Something” Great Buildings – This is a song that I don’t remember at all from the 80’s by a band I know nothing about (and they don’t even have a Wikipedia entry, although I did find something on allmusic). Okay, and the allmusic link is awesome, because I was all ready to describe this song as a substandard version of the theme from Friends (itself not exactly a great song), and then I read the allmusic description, and one of the guys went on to form The Rembrandts, purveyors of said theme song. That is hysterical. Either he hasn’t changed much musically, or I have great ears.

7. “Town Called Malice” The Jam – The Jam is a band that I find to be highly overrated. I mean, they’re not bad, per se. I just don’t see why some people revere them. I’ve tried, but I still feel pretty meh about them. Take this song. It’s an okay song, but not that groundbreaking, and not something I’d want to listen to over and over.

8. “867-5309/Jenny” Tommy Tutone – Another entry into the overplayed hall of fame. I can still listen to it occasionally, but overall, it’s just anathema that I don’t even pay attention to. Although, it can apparently earn an astronomical price on eBay. Pretty good for a song about some pervert obsessing on a woman whose number he found in a bathroom.

9. “Vacation” Go-Go’s – Man, I love me some Go-Go’s. I still think Beauty and the Beat is their best album, and the overall album for Vacation is pretty lackluster, but the title song? Pure awesomeness.

10. “Valley Girl” Frank & Moon (Unit) Zappa – I am forever wondering how someone as smart and creative as Frank Zappa could have such a motley brood. Seriously, I saw Moon (fka Moon Unit) on VH1s Rock and Roll Jeopardy back in the day, and she is a moron. Which is probably why she’s so awesome on this song. It apparently making fun of the Vals, but Moon sure did a convincing impersonation. I remember really being into the Valley Girl thing, at least as much as a middle schooler in small town Kansas can be into something specific to a region in California, and this song just makes me giggle.

11. “I Ran (So Far Away)” A Flock of Seagulls – Another strong showing in the way overplayed hall of fame, but I still like it. I heard it on the radio earlier this week, and a cranked it up and sang. As should everyone.

12. “Sex Dwarf” Soft Cell – A few years ago, I made a theme mix tape for my friend Christian, which I titled “Drugs, Dwarves, Dorks, and Drag Queens” (and every song fit at least one of those labels). Needless to say, I included this song. I don’t think he’s forgiven me yet. But I still like it. It’s weird, creepy, with a cold electro backing. In other words, awesome.

13. “I Love a Man in a Uniform” Gang of Four – This song, however, not awesome. Not awesome at all. Irritating, a little. Boring, yes. Good, eh, not really. Something to skip.

14. “The Art of Parties” Japan – Man, lead singer David Sylvian really, really, really wants to be Bryan Ferry. At least on this song. (And why not, cuz Mr. Ferry is tres awesome.) I haven’t really listened to much Japan, although they were recommended to me by my former boss from the record store. This song doesn’t really sell me. It’s not bad, but it mainly makes me want to listen to better songs by Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry.

15. “Homosapien” Pete Shelley – Another song I’m not really a fan of. It’s fairly annoying and not catchy at all. Like Japan’s track above, it just kind of makes me want to hear similar, but way better, songs by other artists. (Although, Japan’s track is far, far superior to this piece of crap.)

16. “Mickey” Toni Basil – So the album closes not just with a top contender of the Most Overplayed Song of the 80’s, but with one of my top three 80’s Songs I Never, Ever, Ever,
Ever, Ever want to hear again (the other two being “Come On Eileen” and “I Melt With You”). Seriously, I despise this song. So very, very much. Partly because in junior high we had to do calisthenics in PE to this song. Mostly because it’s just way, way, way overplayed. Well, it could be worse: Volume 2 of the Living in Oblivion series (another fun, and sadly out of print, 80’s collection) opens with the regular version of “Mickey” and closes with the Spanish version.

Overall, despite a few clunkers and songs I’ve just heard too many times, this volume is pretty good. Enough awesome songs to overshadow the not so awesome.

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