Archived entries for What I’m Listening To

I just inherited more vinyl records than I know what to do with.

 

family-vinyl-record-collection

When my parents told me they wanted to get rid of their vinyl record collection–complete with vintage model turntable–I jumped at the chance to own a rather large chunk of my own musical upbringing.

wall-of-records

I couldn’t bear the thought of so many of my early musical memories sitting in some landfill, which is where they’d inevitably end up because neither of my parents know how to internet. Selling things online for a decent profit requires a bit of patience and experience. If you just want to unload stuff quickly because it’s taking up too much space that could otherwise be filled with new furniture (says my Mom), Ebay and Craigslist are probably more trouble than it’s worth.

So last weekend my boyfriend Shawn and I helped my Dad load up his SUV with hundreds of albums which now sits in loosely-sorted piles on my basement floor, much to my cat’s delight.

my-cat-laying-on-vinyl-recors

The collection represents 30-40 years’ worth of my family’s diverse musical tastes, which range from supremely awesome to completely WTF.

wtf-records

It didn’t really matter to me WHAT was on those records–my mom’s Jane Fonda workout LPs, my great-grandmother’s weird, obsessive Jim Nabors collection, my Dad’s classic Beatles albums–I wanted it all. I consider these vinyl relics puzzle pieces that, in some way or another, contributed to the wildly eclectic musical tastes I have today.

Dropping the needle.

“You remember how to play these things, right?” my Dad asks, wanting to make sure I knew how to operate the turntable–a high-end Technics model with a diamond stylus, which would have been very expensive back in the day–before leaving it in my care. I had to remind him I’m not as young as he probably still thinks I am. Though to be fair, I did need a little help figuring out how to un-latch the arm without breaking it.

vintage-turntable

Listening to music on vinyl, with its scratchy imperfections, feels a bit like traveling back in time.  From the opening notes of Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ off Michael Jackson’s Thriller that would make 3-year old me spontaneously burst into dance (according to my parents), to the booming, cheerful voice of Andy Williams that officially kicked-off every Christmas morning, I can remember specific moments throughout my childhood punctuated by the music contained in this massive collection.

80s-vinyl-records-madonna-michael-jackson

I can recall, like yesterday, that time my sister and I discovered with intense hilarity the fold-out front cover of Lionel Ritchie’s debut album, which henceforth would forever be known as “Lionel’s Luscious Lips.” These moments are precious to me. PRECIOUS.

lionel-ritchie-luscious-lips

Then there’s the smell and feel of worn album covers, not unlike old books; sense memories that take me back to times and places that don’t exist anymore. As entrenched as I am in the world of digital music, there’s something to be said for being able to hold a physical album in your hand. Turning it over to admire the artwork, touching the same materials someone before me touched, getting a sense for how well-loved it must have been. These are things Spotify and iTunes will never be able to give you.  Somehow, having that physical connection to the music makes it seem more real.

Judging my parents’ musical tastes, one dusty vinyl record at a time.

Thumbing through the stacks of vinyl is like looking through an old family photo album–the one that contains yellowed Polaroids of my parents as teenagers with long hair and bell-bottoms. With every album, I’m either mildly impressed at how cool they once were, or raise a brow at their questionable taste. When I hold up an album by The Bay City Rollers to call my Dad out on it, he deflects without missing a beat: “Your mother must have bought it.”

Indeed.

When I spy a well-worn stack of records containing The Jimmy Hendrix Experience, Cream’s Wheels of Fire, and The Doors, it’s like I can almost see my Dad through the haze of smoke in his dorm room and I decide these three records alone more than make up for the duds.

60s-classic-rock-albums

I’ve started a new pile I decided to call “Lame Mom Music.” Current contents: The Lettermen’s entire catalog. I’m not exactly sure what I plan to do with this pile yet.  The other day I had a vivid flash-forward to my mom’s 100th birthday, in which I take her to go see a Lettermen concert because in the year 2054 they’re STILL making old fart music. Will the soft-pop hits of today like Beyonce’s “Halo” become the Lettermen’s watered down, three-part vocal harmonies of tomorrow? Only time will tell.

lame-mom-music-vinyl

Part of me wants to get rid of the albums I know for a fact I will never voluntarily listen to. But the other part–the less practical one–feels a weird sense of obligation to keeping the collection intact. Long after my parents are gone, when my sister and I become old farts ourselves and we’re arguing over which moldy oldie was my Dad’s all-time favorite song–Acker Bilk’s “Stranger on the Shore” or Bert Kaemfert’s “Wonderland By Night”–who’s going to be there to whip out his actual record to prove it?

Me, that’s who.

Do you like board games? ANSWER ME, YOU MAGGOTS!

Few things have been able to drag me out of hibernation status, but one of those things is the Nerd Lunch podcast. Specifically Episode #119, in which we remember all of the awesome board games we had growing up.

I joined resident nerds CT, Jeeg, and Pax for a lengthy discussion about games we loved, games we hated (anything ending in “opoly”), and all the crazy stuff in between–licensed games, adult party games, “gimmicky mechanical bullshit” games (Operation, Perfection) and some games that probably shouldn’t even be considered board games (Cranium?) but we talked about them anyway, as well as Things You Should Never Do with the Buzzer from Taboo.

Topping my list of awesome board games is a relic from the VHS era called Nightmare: The Video Board Game. If you’ve played it, my subject line should sound pretty familiar, and hopefully not just sound like me being a dick.

Nightmare: Video Board GameImage credit: Chud.com

Nightmare, a paragon of early 90s technology, was a board game you played while watching a VHS tape, much like Clue: VCR Mystery Game I’ve written about before. Yes kids, this is what passed for innovation back in 1991!

The game’s host, a sort of ghoulish master of ceremonies, was The Gatekeeper.

Before and After: The Gatekeeper in Nightmare

Part friend, part foe, and possibly part hobo with a vaguely Scottish accent who just happened to take up permanent residence in the graveyard, he held all the keys you needed to escape and win the game. Throughout the 60 minutes of gameplay, he would pop up on the screen by yelling “STOP!” and either reward or punish you, based on where your player piece was situated on the game board. This happens seemingly at random, but of course everything is prerecorded because, you know, it’s a VHS tape.

After you’ve played the game a few times, it’s easy to predict when he’s about to appear and plan accordingly. You also had to make an ass of yourself by answering, “Yes my Gatekeeper!” whenever he would address you. This is literally written into the rules. You see kids, it’s interactive! (…to use a favorite 90′s buzzword). If you’re curious what the Nightmare tape is like, or just want to watch for unintentional comedic value (which I recommend), you can watch the full thing on YouTube.

Some of the other games I brought up on the podcast, accompanied by awesome commercial sound bytes:

  • Risk
  • Stratego
  • Clue
  • Mall Madness
  • Pizza Party <– The song that goes through my head whenever I order pizza.
  • Bumper Cars
  • Hotels
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Bargain Hunter
  • Crossfire
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Pizza Power!

Listen to the full Nerd Lunch – Episode #119 about board games here!

ShezCrafti on Nerd Lunch #82: Sitcoms of the 90s

Nerd Lunch Logo
Last week the crew from Nerd Lunch needed a last-minute fill-in spot for their show about 90s sitcoms, and I, having nothing better to do on any given night, obliged. Also I figure I’m not sitting on all this useless Roseanne and Full House knowledge for nothing. I’ve gotta let it breathe every now and then, like a fine $4.49 bottle of Arbor Mist.

Filling in for Jeeg, I was joined by show regulars CT, Pax (sup, homie?), and fourth-chair guest William Bruce West. Hear us try to talk over each other about our favorite 90s sitcoms, why every show on TGIF sucked, the age-old debate of whether or not Seinfield was any good, and forgotten, lesser-known shows like Herman’s Head (you’re welcome) and Phenom. All your favorite shows are present and accounted for, and then some.

Plus, in a rather awkward fashion, I bring up that time on Rosanne when Darlene catches D.J. jerking off. If I can offer one selling point for this episode, it would be that.

Listen to Nerd Lunch, Episode #82:

Nerd Lunch Episode #82 – 90s Sitcoms

Pia Zadora is a Little Bit of 80s Heaven

It was an odd set of circumstances that led to my discovering actress/singer Pia Zadora and her lost 1985 single, “Little Bit of Heaven,” but I’m so glad I did.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh_jWz6-Nlc

I haven’t seen choreography that amazing since Laura Branigan’s video for “Gloria.” If I had known this song existed back in the 80s, I can easily imagine Zadora sharing space on the mixtapes I made, alongside artists like Limahl and Cindy Lauper.

As far as 80s fashion aesthetics go, Pia Zadora’s outfit is the absolute epitome.

Pia Zadora - Little Bit of Heaven

Big hair? Check. Headband? Check. Two-color eyeshadow? Check. It’s like one of the goddamn Misfits from Jem came to life. I especially like the parrot motif on her sweater, which is, of course, paired with matching skin-tight leggings and heeled boots. The only question I have is where can I buy one just like it?

As it turns out, I was already familiar with her but didn’t even know it.

In the process of adding the soundtrack for John Waters’ 1988 film Hairspray to Spotify, I hit a roadblock when Spotify didn’t have “Day-O,” a song performed by Zadora that was used in the film, even though I couldn’t place it. Then it dawned on me–in Hairspray, during the scene where Tracy meets the beatnik chick (the one who famously irons her hair), she sings “Day-O” very briefly.  This led me to looking her up on IMDB and sure enough, the beatnik chick is Pia Zadora herself.

Pia Zadora - Beanik Chick in Hairspray

Huh. Somehow I never made the connection.

Pia Zadora is quite a name. Curious, I browsed YouTube to see if there were any other clips from movies she’s been in, like Troop Beverly Hills, which is a movie I’ve seen like a zillion times. How the hell did I miss that? After discovering the above video I looked her up on Wikipedia and found out about her singing career. Evidently Zadora has had nine albums. NINE. Unfortunately, Wikipedia doesn’t seem to have much info about them.

At some point she also did a duet with Jermaine Jackson, which is every bit as awesomely 80s as that sounds. Their song “When the Rain Begins to Fall” was used in a b-movie they both starred in together called Voyage of the Rock Aliens. This rabbit hole just keeps getting better. I’m now on a mission to find a way to listen to the rest of her music and watch all these crazy-sounding movies she’s been in.

The internet is funny like that. I never know what I’m going to randomly stumble upon, nor could I have predicted I’d be spending my Sunday afternoon blogging about it. I guess I’m like a Pia Zadora fan now or something.

John Waters Approved: ‘Hairspray’ 1988 Soundtrack on Spotify

Hairspray 1988 PosterIt’s ridiculous how hard it can sometimes be to find soundtracks for the movies you love, especially from older movies with out-of-print soundtracks. Sometimes there aren’t even legal ways to acquire it. Other times, the “official” soundtrack that was released is incomplete, lacking many of the key songs that made the film so memorable to begin with.

Such is the case with John Waters’ Hairspray, the campy 1988 dance movie set in racially tense Baltimore during the 1960s. Being from Baltimore myself and a fan of cult movies in general–especially ones that involve lots of cheesy dancing and kitschy humor–it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Hairspray is one of my favorites. (And just to be clear, I’m NOT talking about the 2007 movie based on the musical starring John Travolta in drag.)

The official soundtrack that was released for John Waters’ Hairspray only contains twelve songs. You could buy it from Amazon for less than $8 if you really want, but you’re only getting less than half the songs featured in the movie. For example, none of the four Chubby Checker songs are included. Oh, you want Gravy for your Mashed Potatoes? Don’t even think about it.

What’s a Tracy Turnblad wannabe hair hopper to do?

Tracy Turnblad

Luckily, I was able to find almost all of the original songs on Spotify, which is surprising given the rarity of some of them. Although Spotify has a ton of playlists for the 2007 Hairspray, it seems nobody yet bothered to make one for John Waters’ original (ahem, superior) version of the movie. I did what had to be done.

Now let’s get all ratted up like a teenage jezebel!

P.S: These are the songs I’m missing that Spotify doesn’t have:

Supposedly Spotify adds 10,000 new tracks to its music library every single day, so I’m hoping it’s just a matter of time before these lost gems show up. When/if that happens, you can be sure I’ll add them to this playlist! Also, if you have any of these tracks, you can always import them into Spotify yourself to supplement what the service lacks with your own library.

Reckless Love Keeps 80s Glam Metal Alive

With the American music industry being what it is, perhaps the only thing sadder than 80s hair metal falling out of fashion is that it’s now up to other countries to fill the acid-washed void. Meet Reckless Love, a glam metal band from Finland that you’d never know was from Finland.

I mean, just look at these guys.

Reckless Love

Now I admit my knowledge of Finland is limited at best. Being your typical dumb American, to me Finland has always been that “other” Scandinavian country, the one that’s not Sweden, Norway or Denmark. I get all those damn flags with crosses on ‘em mixed up, anyway. But if someone hadn’t told me Reckless Love was from Finland, I never would have known. If they have Finnish accents, I can’t hear it in the singing. And the music sounds straight out of the 80s, like something you’d hear between Mötley Crüe and Ratt.

When I first heard “Animal Attraction”, for a split-second I thought “hey, cool, Poison has a new song out!” before realizing it sounded too fresh, too good to be what Poison sounds like now (which isn’t all that bad, actually).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqsTHZpUqro

What’s great about these guys is that they’re the same age right now as all those hair bands were back in the 80s, which means I can feel less awkward about wanting to sleep with them. On the other hand, they have names like Ollie, Pepe, Jalle and Hessu. I can’t really envision myself getting any of those tattooed on my ass. But also working in their favor is the fact they started out as a Guns N’ Roses cover band, so the ass tattoo isn’t totally off the table.

Reckless Love has two studio albums under its leather-studded belt, 2010′s self-titled debut and 2011′s Animal Attraction, both with equally awesome album art:

Reckless Love 2010 Animal Attraction 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the crotch of your leather pants is getting uncomfortably tight just trying to decide what to listen to first, don’t sweat it! Here are some of my recommendations:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy6NpF2V2xg

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0vftYriDEg

Next month the band releases its next single, Night on Fire, which drops April 26th. Based on the cover art alone, I’m excited for it. A new album will follow in late summer or fall.

Reckless Love - Night On Fire 2013

I’m Never Gonna Say I’m Sorry for Loving Ace of Base

This week The League wants to know what our guilty pleasures are. Well friends (that is, if you still want to be friends after this) the time has come for me to reveal my secret shame: my deep and unconditional love for Ace of Base.  I’ve been sitting on this gem for a long time, carrying the torch alone, waiting for just the right moment to publicly embarrass myself.

But today you could say I SAW THE SIGN. (Sorry. Had to.)

Ace of Base Tapes & CDs

No, you haven’t time traveled back to 1994. You’re looking at a very recent picture of Ace of Base CDs and cassingles that I still own. Present tense, baby. Though not quite as strong as it used to be, this photo is evidence of my undying love for a band that, by and large, most people have forgotten, as well as evidence that I have terrible taste in music. It is also evidence that “pop reggae” was once a thing.

Thousands of years from now when generations far into the future dig up the festering remains of our once great pop culture empire, they will unearth a tattered copy of The Sign, stare deep into the mysterious pink center of its vagina-like album art, and ponder its meaning.

The Sign Album Art

The majority of you reading this probably don’t realize that Ace of Base didn’t stop making albums after The Sign–which, if you remember, was damn near inescapable with its string of worldwide hit singles (including the infectious title song) bombarding the radio and certified nine-time platinum status–but they did.

In fact, the band’s second album The Bridge was released in 1995 and was, in many respects, a far superior album. Says me. You might remember its earworm of a hit single, “Beautiful Life,” but probably not much else unless you were A) a dedicated fan; B) it was one of your “Just Add Two More CDs to Get Free Shipping!” selections from Columbia House; or C) your name is William Bruce West. I recently learned on Twitter that Will is just as much of an Ace of Base fan as I am, calling into question all my previously-held beliefs about black guys. He even knows about “Ravine.” Every reciprocated tweet was like a secret handshake welcoming me into some loser-y club for which I thought I was the only member. However, on the issue of Linn having a better voice than Jenny, well, Will and I will just have to agree to disagree.

This is how much I love Ace of Base: even though I own all of their albums on CD and digitally, I refuse to throw away this cassette tape.

Cassette Tapes are still awesome, amirite?

After The Sign, The Swedish pop act went on to record several more albums with completely different names outside the United States where they were ignored–1997′s Cruel Summer which covered the famous Bananarama song, and the long-awaited Da Capo in 2003–before ultimately breaking up in 2009. A year later the band re-formed with two different girls (and yes I own that album too).  But like Becky’s replacement on Roseanne, the new girls are prettier but it’s just not the same!

As one of the first pop groups I can remember being really into (some annoyed family members might say to the point of obsession, given they had to endure my endless looping of “Don’t Turn Around”), Ace of Base gave me my first harsh lesson about America’s relationship with pop groups. Namely, how we devour them to the bone, then quickly shit ‘em out and flush. Of course, it didn’t help that Ace of Base’s upbeat, infectious pop infused with love and positivity ran counter to the flannel shirt depression of grunge and alterna-rock that was so popular during their brief period of stardom, when they perfected awesome poses like this one:

Ace of Base, circa 1993

Not to mention their endearingly cheesy lyrics, made all the more so given their less than stellar command of the English language. Sweet, naive, thirteen-year-old me was certain that a big Ace of Base comeback was going to happen someday, after everyone realized their genius. Only they never did. By the time I got to high school I learned to keep my AOB love on the down low, outside of a few trusted friends who were privy to all my embarrassing interests, like Sailor Moon. Now that I think about it, this could have easily been a post about Sailor Moon.

But hey! At least it’s not Justin Bieber, AMIRITE? In fact you, you can just copy and paste that last sentence  and use it for everything you’re ashamed of.

Before I go, this post would not be complete without one of Ace of Base’s classic, uncomfortable music videos that make no sense. Play me out, you angelic songstresses of Swedish pop!

Experience some of these other pearls.

Wondering what this is all about? This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was to share one of our guilty pleasures. I don’t know what can possibly be guiltier than Ace of Base, but let’s find out. Together!

I’ll update with more guilty pleasures as other Leaguers complete the assignment.

Thank you for holding. Your League post is very important to me. It will be listed here in the order in which it was received. Beep!

Oscars Mixtape: Best Original Songs of the 1980s

With the 85th Annual Academy Awards having come and gone, this week’s League topic was an Oscar-worthy one. But the thing is, I don’t really care about the Academy Awards like I once used to. I can’t stand the pretentiousness, the media hype, the scripted jokes. Not even Seth MacFarlane hosting this year was enough to get me excited about them, so I was more than happy to spend the evening catching up on video games and casually monitoring my Twitter feed as friends reacted to the winners and Ann Hathaway’s nipples.

Anyway, for this post I thought it would be fun to look back on The Oscars of a time when they mattered more to me: the 1980s. More specifically, I was curious about past Oscar winners for Best Original Song. (Another post about 80′s music? Gee that never happens around here.) What were the big 80s movies that spawned the most memorable songs of the decade? And looking back on them, do I agree with the winners? It was a fun exercise and trip down movie memory lane. I mostly came to the realization that the 1980s Academy had a hard-on for what we consider today as “soft rock” or “easy listening”–you know, the kind of music you’d hear at your dentist’s office.

I rounded up all the winners for each year and posted them below for, um, easy listening. I also shared a couple of my random thoughts on each song, and whether or not I think it should have won for Best Original Song.

1980s Oscars Mixtape: Best Original Songs

1980 – “Fame”

Film: Fame (1980)
Performed by:
Irene Cara

As much as I love 80′s movies about dancing AND musicals, I’m actually not a big fan of Fame–hard to believe, I know. But I do love the title song by Irene Cara, which clings to that dying era of disco for all its worth. In 1980, Fame won Oscars for Best Score and Best Song (in fact, two Fame songs were up for the award: “Fame” and “Out Here On My Own”, both by Irene Cara), but lost for Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Sound. That sounds about right. This is one of those movies I think is more memorable for the music. (For what it’s worth, my 80′s musical movie about musicals of choice is A Chorus Line.)

1981 – “Arthur’s Theme”

Film: Arthur (1981)
Performed by:
Christopher Cross

My mom had a huge obsession with Dudley Moore back in the 80s, which means I’ve seen almost every Dudley Moore movie there is to see, including Arthur, multiple times. I’m not sure I would have picked Christopher Cross’ “Arthur’s Theme” over, say, “Endless Love” by Lionel Richie, but Christopher “I’m so sensitive because I’m kind of ugly” Cross seems to have had a lock on on those smooth, early 80s love ballads that made women like my mom drop their panties at the first slow, drawn-out string note.

1982 – “Up Where We Belong”

Film: An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
Performed by:
Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes

How to win an Oscar for Best Original Song in the 80′s: perform your song in a duet with Jennifer Warnes. This song won an Oscar, along with her other famous duet, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing, which we’ll get to in a minute. This is another song that makes me think of my mom, who was really into those cheesy 80s love songs. In fact, at one point she owned a whole set of pastel-colored cassette tapes she bought from Time-Life Music called “Secret Love” that was full of songs just like this. She’s also the reason I’ve seen this movie more times than I care to admit. It’s not so bad, I guess; I like Deborah Winger. But if I were in charge of the Oscars that year, you know I would have chosen “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, which lost out to this gag-fest of a ballad.

1983 – “Flashdance…What a Feeling”

Film: Flashdance (1983)
Performed by:
Irene Cara

 

YESSSSSSSSSSSS. This song, you guys. Not only do I love Flashdance, I LOVE THIS GODDAMN SONG. Like, you have no idea. It’s #1 on my list of cheesy motivational songs of the 1980s and every now and then, if you get enough drinks in me, I’ll belt it out at karaoke. I definitely agree it should have won that year, considering it was up against yet another song from Flashdance (“Maniac” by Michael Sembello), some crap I’ve never heard of, and fucking Yentl. A+, Academy.

1984 – “I Just Called to Say I Love You”

Film: The Woman in Red (1984)
Performed by:
Stevie Wonder

Wow, this was a tough year for Best Original Song. Look at the other contenders here:

  • “Against All Odds”  - Phil Collins (Against All Odds)
  • “Footloose” – Kenny Loggins (Footloose)
  • “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” – Deniece Williams (Footloose)
  • “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker, Jr. (Ghostbusters)

I know you fanboys would have wanted me to declare Ghostbusters my fantasy winner, but I would have gone Phil Collins on this one. I’m sorry, but that song–along with most Phill Collins songs–is just fucking fantastic. To steal a joke from my buddy Scott: My friends thought I’d never get over my Phil Collins obsession, but take a look at me now.

1985 – “Say You, Say Me”

Film: White Nights (1985)
Performed by:
Lionel Richie

I love ya, Lionel, but NO to this song. Not when I know “The Power of Love” from Back to the Future could have won. I don’t care how luscious your mustache is–I’d rather ride Huey Lewis’s train even if I have to pay with a credit card.

Lushstache

1986 – “Take My Breath Away”

Film: Top Gun (1986)
Performed by:
Berlin

Who doesn’t love Top Gun? I’ll try to understand if you don’t, but just know you’re not anybody I could ever be BFFs with. I’m not a huge fan of this song, which I always found kind of depressing, but I can  understand the Academy wanting to give an award to Top Gun for something. However, this was another one of those years where some really tough decisions had to be made. “Take My Breath Away” was up against “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tail and Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” from The Karate Kid Part II. I would have fought for Glory of Love’s honor, all the way. It’s one of my favorite songs of all time. In fact, I’m listening to it on Spotify and singing it like a damn fool as loud as I possibly can RIGHT NOW. My cat is more than a little freaked out.

1987 – “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”

Film: Dirty Dancing (1987)
Performed by:
Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes

NOBODY PUTS BILL MEDLEY & JENNIFER WARNES IN A CORNER! Again, another duet with Jennifer Warnes, another Oscar. You know, I don’t even know what the hell Jennifer Warnes does outside of singing shitty duets that win Oscars. I suppose I could look her up and what she’s all about, but I just can’t muster the enthusiasm. While I do love me some Dirty Dancing and “The Swaze,” I actually loathe this particular song on a deep, deep level. However, I used to love this song when the movie first came out, but so did the rest of America, which means it was EVERYWHERE. Back in 1988, my elementary school even put on a talent show where no less than ten acts all used songs from Dirty Dancing, and guess which one was the most popular? It haunted my life, it haunted my dreams, and nowadays it haunts my television every time I see one of those fucking Sandals commercials.

Do I think it should have won for Best Song that year? Eh, sure, why not. I try to remember that I too once loved this song, but if I could go back in time, I’d definitely pick Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from the movie Mannequin instead. That’s right up there with Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” in my book.

1988 – “Let the River Run”

Film: Working Girl (1988)
Performed by:
Carly Simon

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me because I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it on this blog, but Working Girl is one of my favorite movies of the 80s. I love Melanie Griffith, who I just find adorable (pre-plastic surgery, obviously), and of course Harrison Ford and the always great Sigourney Weaver. And Joan Cusack! And Alec Baldwin! And a coked-up Kevin Spacey! And the fact that this movie takes place in New York City in the 80s. I love films that take place in 80s-era NYC. It’s just a great movie all around, and I love the big “fuck you” moment Tess gets to have at the end.

Anyway, it was slim pickins for Oscar music this year, with only two other contenders, both from movies I’ve never seen. I have no problems with Carly Simon’s inspirational “Let the River Run” winning for Best Original Song. When you hear it in the movie accompanying those breathtaking shots of the Twin Towers, it’s almost enough to make me cry.

1989 – “Under the Sea”

Film: The Little Mermaid (1989)
Performed by: Samuel E. Wright

Ah, the start of Disney’s comeback era! This year there were two songs from The Little Mermaid up for Best Song–this one, along with “Kiss the Girl.” Personally I would have picked “Kiss the Girl,” but both songs are pretty good. I’m certainly glad Randy Newman didn’t win.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this look back at Oscar-worthy music from the 80s as much as I enjoyed pretending to have better taste than The Academy!

Because you know you still love Top Gun and that damn song…

Wondering what this is all about?  This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was simply, “The Oscars.” Here’s how my fellow Leaguers interpreted the topic:

Bare Ass Optional: Discussing 1982′s ‘The Beastmaster’

Today over at Cult Film Club we’re discussing one of my personal favorite movies, The Beastmaster! Released back in 1982 (the golden year for sci-fi and fantasy filmsThe Beastmaster is a mid-grade fantasy film that stars Marc Singer as the titular hero and famous faces Rip Torn, Tanya Roberts, and John Amos.

The Beastmaster (1982) Poster

I didn’t have to fight very hard with my co-hosts Paxton Holley and Shawn Robare when I suggested we cover it in Episode 4. A half-naked, oily-chested Marc Singer? Bone-crushing bird creatures? Bare asses hanging out everywhere? FERRETS? If The Beastmaster isn’t Grade A, top-quality Cult Film Club material, I don’t know what is.

ShezCrafti Funfact #27: I totally had a crush on The Beastmaster when I was a little girl. There’s just something about that leather jock strap that does it for me.

Episode #4 – The Beastmaster

Head on over to the Cult Film Club podcast to hear us blather on about how much we freaking love this movie, or you can listen right here.

Bare ass optional.

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You’ll wish ‘Space Stallions’ was a real Saturday morning cartoon, too.

Here’s something super cool I’ve been meaning to share for a while that any lover of Saturday morning cartoons and 80′s pop culture can appreciate: Space Stallions!

Space Stallions Header

As darkness is covering the multiverse, far away in the galaxy of the wild stallion, a spark of hope is born. Guided by the light of Mother Mustang, the Space Stallions must defeat the Demon of darkness, Destructo.

Though I’ve had this bookmarked for a couple of months, I’ve been hesitating to blog about it. At the time I thought I had stumbled upon something so amazingly amazing and uniquely unique that nobody else knew about, only to find out it’s been covered by the likes of iO9, Topless Robot, and other sites much bigger than mine MONTHS before I discovered it. Cue Price is Right fail horn.

But after thinking on it some more, and living with the knowledge this cartoon features A FUCKING MAGIC SWORD THAT TRANSFORMS INTO A KEYTAR, I decided there’s no way I was NOT going to put Space Stallions on my blog. Sometimes you just have to make gutsy editorial decisions. (Also, I was in desperate need of some fresh content. I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel today, kids.)

Space Stallions, sadly, is NOT a real Saturday morning cartoon from the 80s, but a 3D-animated film from 2012 by two students of Denmark’s famed The Animation Workshop, named Thorvaldur Gunnarsson and Jonatan Brüsch.  I actually discovered the mega-awesome theme song first on Bandcamp, and for a time believed that’s all there was of Space Stallions. Imagine how my mind was blown when I also found out there was an actual animation and characters to go along with it.

Mother Mustang

Had it existed during my childhood (and I so wish it did), Space Stallions would have easily taken their rightful place alongside the Rankin-Bass classics like ThunderCats and Silverhawks.

Now if you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’ve come up with a wishlist of my own Saturday morning cartoon ideas I’d love for some talented animator to tackle:

Someone please make one/all of these happen:

B.E.A.R.A.C.U.D.A.S.

Fearsome beasts of land and sea, these guys are either ferocious armored bears that transform into ferocious armored fish, or ferocious armored fish that transform into ferocious armored bears.  I didn’t bother coming up with it, but the acronym would be something awesome that reflects that.

AracadeBots

Normal arcade machines that transform into giant mechs empowered by the moves and special attacks of their own video games. They’re controlled by a group of teens who hang out at the arcade all day and one day discovered the secret code to make them work. The only downside is they STILL have to shell out quarters every time, so they’re forced to live normal kid lives and do things like work and chores in order to make the necessary coin to keep saving the world.

SnailBlazers

Half-snail, half-human superheroes who run at lightning-fast speeds and leave behind a trail of glowing, toxic slime. Being snails, they’re able to use their shells for protection as well as carry around an arsenal of cool weaponry. Really, my whole rationale behind this one is to know whether or not it’s possible to make snails cool.

And it should also go without saying, all of these are set in the 1980′s.

The most ridiculous(ly awesome) pirate songs I know.

Dread Pirate Roberts

My first impulse after seeing this week’s League assignment was “pirates” was to make a list of my Top 5 Favorite Pirates, but then I remembered I kinda already did that. It’s not the most meaty or well thought-out of posts, but then again I threw it together in ten minutes for National Talk Like a Pirate Day, which I almost forgot about, and if I’m being completely honest, I really wanted an excuse to work “Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” into my title as a verb. That’s just good writing.

My second impulse was to write about Sid Meier’s Pirates, the classic pirate sim game, but then I remembered only a small percentage of my readers give a shit about video games, so I’ll save that particular rambling for RunJumpFire.

Sorry, Sid Meier

Also, thanks to Disney’s ability to milk its own theme park rides for obscene amounts at the box office, and Johnny Depp’s willingness to keep sucking on that teatPirates of the Carribean is usually the first thing I think of whenever I hear the word “pirates.” I don’t like that.

I will also never have generic pirate toys with rich and engaging backstories as cool as The Goodwill Geek’s, so I was kind of at a loss for ideas.

But then, all of a sudden, I remembered something important. Something profound. Something that dick-slapped me in the face with INSPIRATION.

I am a pirate!
And being a pirate is all right to be.
And more importantly,
I can do what I want
because a pirate is free!

Such liberation, such poetry comes from the greatest song about pirates (and most disturbing video) the internet has ever known:

“You Are A Pirate!”

by whatever cokehead pedophile is responsible for LazyTown

Okay, so what if it’s the de-facto theme song for anybody who’s ever downloaded anything illegally? (Which I’ve never done. EVAR.) You have to admit it’s fucking catchy. As in, I catch myself singing this all the damn time. And also pondering the lyric, “We’ll dig up the box–we know it’s full of precious booty!” That’s like a total euphemism, right? It’s also one of my life’s ambitions to learn Stephanie’s dance moves.

But anyway, I was energized and encouraged because I suddenly had my angle for this post: more awesome pirate songs.

“From the Seas to the Streets”

by Captain Dan & The Scurvy Crew

You guys, PIRATE RAP EXISTS! I’m not just talking about one single video here. THERE ARE LITERALLY WHOLE ALBUMS FULL OF THIS SHIT, with pirates rapping songs like “It’s All About The Booty” and “Real Swashbucklers (Throw Your Hooks In The Air).” I’d also like to take a moment to point out that Captain Dan & The Scurvy Crew refer to their website’s homepage as “home port.” I don’t know why this excites me, but it does.

This is almost as awesome as that time I discovered Ninja Sex Party. Except not quite, because ninjas > pirates.

“HOT Pirates of the Carribean”

A Symphony of the Word “Hot” by Hot Symphony

This one’s pretty self-explanatory, and the appeal of hot pirate bitches is obvious. Plus, it’s easy to sing along with. HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT.

“The Gay Pirate Song”

by some guy named Trey Green

Okay, this one I actually had no idea existed before today. I got to thinking deep thoughts, as is so often the case when I’m writing these posts, and said to myself, “Surely someone out there has made a song about pirates being gay.” A quick YouTube search later and I was well on my way to being enchanted by the sounds of Trey Green (who is NOT a gay pirate, disappointingly) with lyrics like, “We pillage, we plunder, for treasure and men, and for booty that’s free of disease.” Just think of every terrible pirate pun that could be twisted around to sound like something homosexual (poop deck!), and you’ll have a pretty good idea what to expect from this song. I like things that are straightforward if you know what I mean.

Oh hey, speaking of Gay Pirates, I was doing some “research” for this post (look, just shut up and stop judging me) when I stumbled upon THIS masterpiece:

It’s a piece called “Gay Star Trek Pirate Unicorn” by an artist named Kina. I also feel compelled to point out that this was a commission. That’s right. Somebody out there envisioned this, and then paid an artist to birth this from her creative loins. Amazing.

YOU ARE A SMELLY PIRATE HOOKER.

Wondering what this is all about? This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was the topic “pirates,” which apparently won the vote against infinitely more awesome topics like “ninjas” and “robots.” (Really guys?) Anyway, here’s a sampling of some of the pirate-y things my fellow bloggers wrote about:

DJ Soul Presents the Fila x TMNT Mixtape

Here’s what I’m jamming on today at work:

Inspired by the sneaker collaboration between Fila and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, [DJ Soul] teamed up with Nickelodeon and recorded a mix to remind people of the influence both brands have had in music and fashion since the 80′s. If you want to purchase the kicks, they are now available on Fila.com and at selected retailers.

If you don’t like rap & hip-hop (*cough* @WallCrawlinHero *cough*), you’re probably not going to enjoy the music on this mixtape. But as far as I’m concerned, hip hop + Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the best combinations I can think of, so I’m really digging this. It’s also worth listening to for all the TMNT cartoon and movie sound bytes peppered throughout.

You can listen to the whole thing via Soundcloud right here:

By the way, did anyone actually manage to score a pair of the limited edition Fila TMNT kicks? Last time I checked they were completely sold out. Not that I wanted them or anything…

Fila TMNT Sneakers

I’m possibly the only person who remembered it’s Ya Kid K’s birthday today.

Happy Birthday, Ya Kid K! Almost 25 years later, you are still pumpin’ up my jam.

Ya Kid K - Then & Now

I have to admit, I thought you were a dude when I first saw you perform live on TV sometime back in 1989, before I knew what a lesbian was. Sorry about that.

In fact, your gender was a frequent before-bedtime hot topic for my older sister and I, along with other stupid things like what exactly the “Cs” in C+C Music Factory stood for, which New Kid was the ugliest (answer: Danny), and whether or not Paula Abdul was part black. We were just dumb, spoiled little white girls who were raised on MTV and had nothing better to argue about, but were sisters, so as a rule we had to argue about something. And this was years before the internet, so we couldn’t exactly look these things up. But we sure did wear the shit out of our Technotronic cassingles! Me especially.

Awesome - You Are My Hero

Like several other now-obscure musical acts of the 90′s (see my posts about Partners in Kryme and Fifth Platoon), my Ya Kid K fandom is directly associated with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You have the esteemed honor of being the only artist to have appeared on all three live-action TMNT movie soundtracks, albeit under totally inconsistent names:

These are soundtracks I’m still listening to at age 31, and not just because I have nostalgia blindness (deafness?) for all things TMNT–no, I still listen to these albums because there’s some damn good music on them, thanks in a big way to you. I’ve read biographies where you didn’t seem all that thrilled to have sold out in that way, like so many other artists who were swept up by Turtlemania, but if it’s any consolation, you helped make my childhood (and a lot of other kids’) a whole lot more awesome.

And speaking of awesome, your live performances were The Shit. Until you burst on the scene, I had never really seen anyone perform with that level of energy and  enthusiasm. You could dance, you could rap, you could sing, and you had a funky-fresh style (yes, I feel it’s totally acceptable to use the 90′s slang term “funky-fresh” here) that was really unique.  And that voice is unmistakable. I don’t think you get nearly the level of credit you deserve.

I can’t believe you’re 40 years old now. In my mind you’ll forever be owning that Arsenio Hall stage.

More about my obsession with keyboards & synthesizers…

This is kind of a tangent I started in my last post, which was also synthesizer-related, and it was getting pretty long, irrelevant (and probably boring!). So I thought I’d give it its own space.

My obsession with synth music is pretty well-documented around here, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned my equally-obsessive love for the instruments themselves. I’ve owned many keyboards and synthesizers over the years–nothing that could exactly be considered professional-grade, mind you, but ones emblazoned with Yamaha, Casio, and Korg that are just expensive enough to make me feel like a total amateur unworthy of their ownership.

Sidebar: I never took piano lessons, but I can play pretty well by ear; to the point where I can make people think I’ve had lessons (much to my older sister’s chagrin, who actually did take piano lessons). I usually just need to hear a piece of music one time and I’m able to pluck out the melody with my right hand while figuring out the chords with my left. It’s gimpy and retarded and not at all the way you’re supposed to play piano, but I make it work somehow.

Skill-wise, I’m basically just a slight step above Keyboard Cat.

Anyway, my family ended up buying an upright piano secondhand just so my sister could take lessons. (Well, either that, or my mom just felt she needed another nice-looking piece of furniture to drape with frilly doilies and knickknacks,  which, if you’ve seen my parent’s house, you’d know is entirely possible.) Whatever the case, it was cool to have grown up in a house with a piano. I ended up playing the damn thing more than my sister did.

Before we got said piano, however, we had this little beauty:

Pink Casio SK-1

Yes, it was even PASTEL PINK, just like the one pictured above. This is the Casio SK-1 that was produced in 1985 and came in an array of cool colors. If you’ve ever heard the Whitetown song “Your Woman” (one of my favorite obscure, under-appreciated tracks from the 90′s) you know what this thing sounds like because that song sampled the shit out of it. The pink one happens to be the rarest, and I’m kicking myself for allowing my parents to have gotten rid of it in a yard sale. I’ve seen this particular “toy” keyboard go for hundreds on Ebay, no joke. (More about the SK-1, including an original print ad, can be found here.)  I’m still very much lusting after the old pink SK-1 I used to have. I could buy a black one right now on Ebay for about $20, but I WON’T. I demand it to be pink. But somewhere out there lurking in the wild is a pink SK-1 with “Hood” Sharpie’d on the back…because my Dad always made us label EVERY toy that was expensive and could get stolen, like my Game Boy. I guess he figured nobody would want it if they couldn’t show it off.

The main keyboard I have right now is the 76-key Casio WK-500, which is quite large and currently dominates one corner of my office. I like it because I can hook it up to my computer and use it with software like Cakewalk…not that I have any idea what I’m doing, but I do enjoy tinkering and making cool sounds come out of it. It’s a hobby more than anything.

Casio WK-500

Anyway, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately over at Vintage Synth Explorer and looking up cool synthesizer videos on YouTube, especially ones that show circuit-bending (which is how a lot of your dubstep sausage is made) techniques used on toy pianos (another semi-obsession of mine), like this awesome circuit-bent Muppet Babies keyboard.

I’d really like to buy more equipment and get more into this sort of thing, and actually learn to make coherent-sounding music, and not just my usual retarded mimicry. When I inevitably start that one-woman synth band I’ve been dreaming about–which is really just an elaborate excuse to wear tight pleather and neon eyeshadow–I have my stage name all picked out and everything. I’d reveal what it is, but your head would explode from the sheer awesomeness.

Listen to me fail at 80s TV Trivia! [UnderScoopFire Podcast #57]

Last week I was a guest on the UnderScoopFire podcast for the first (and quite possibly last!) edition of What’s.. The.. SCOOP?!! — the 80′s TV Trivia game show hosted by Howie Decker’s charismatic alter-ego, Dick Decker.  I’m one of three lovely contestants, along with internet-famous “blerd” (that’s “black nerd”) William Bruce West and Mr. Serious himself, Corey Chapman.

(Click the TV to listen to the episode!)

What's the Scoop?

It’s astounding how little I actually know about 80s TV, as I find out in this podcast. But to be fair, hardly any of the shows I actually watched back in the day came up as my questions. I mean, where was Charles in Charge!? Where was Facts of Life!?  Also, I should point out that Will is a Pop Culture Kung Fu MASTER, so I was up against some pretty stiff competition, but I think I held my own pretty well. My saving grace was Roseanne, Care Bears, Saved by the Bell, and those sweet, sweet multiple-choice questions.

Hey, at least I didn’t come in dead-last! And for that I think a celebratory dance is in order:

Three ways to play:

Listen / Download UnderScoopFire Episode #57 on iTunes

Listen / Download UnderScoopFire Episode #57 on BuzzSprout

Take UnderScoopFire Episode #57 TO GO with the Stitcher Radio app for smartphones

– OR –

Listen or download directly on the UnderScoopFire website.

Album Art Porn: Hudson Mohawke – Butter

Well, it’s my sad duty to report this is the first edition of Album Art Porn where the music didn’t turn out to be as amazing as the album cover. But! Hudson Mohawke’s “Butter” still has a lot going for it. Let’s start with the obvious-the reason I gave this album a listen in the first place:

Hudson Mohawke - Butter

I can’t get enough of this kind of lurid, 80s-inspired artwork. I am drawn to those collisions of hot pink and Day-glo yellow like…well, like this blueberry scone I’m sitting here eating that I could NOT say no to at Panera Bread. It seems like it would pretty be easy to create, too. Just take a normal photo of some animals (lizards seem to be popular subject matter), desaturate the colors a bit, apply neon overlays, then add some Miami Vice-looking text and call it a day. I’m not exactly sure what any of this has to do with “Butter,” and there isn’t a song by that name on this album, so that part was a little perplexing.

But what does it sound like?

Speaking of perplexing, I have no idea how you’d even classify the stuff on this album. But I did find this little tidbit on Wikipedia; emphasis mine:

Hudson Mohawke is a purveyor of the hip-hop/electronic offshoot that is sometimes known as aqua-crunk or wonky, although Hudson does not accept these labels.”

“Aqua crunk?” Whatever. It’s electronica–that much is clear–but it’s all very bizarre and experimental, and mostly accompanied by sketchy, inconsistent hip hop beats. It’s almost jazz-like in that there’s no rhyme or reason to a lot of the instrumentation, and often times just sounds like noise. But sometimes there are flickers of awesomeness, like the track “Joy Fantastic,” which is one of the few that has vocals. I’ll give “Star Crackout” a pass, too, since it samples chiptunes that sound like they came from the original Metroid on NES.

It’s certainly interesting music and contains a lot of unique sounds, I just don’t think I could listen to it more than once. It’s the type of thing I might consider putting on in the background while I work, but that’s a big “might.” Five stars for something I don’t want to listen to again might seem a little generous, but I’m awarding points for creativity here.

As always, if you have Spotify, you can listen to this album right here:

ShezCrafti’s Rating:

5 out of 10 stars.

                                                

What is Album Art Porn?

A recur­ring fea­ture in which I ran­domly pick an album I’ve never heard of to lis­ten to and review based solely on its cover art. It could turn out to be the most amaz­ing thing I’ve ever heard…or com­pletely suck. Find out with me!

Saw it. Loved it. Cried a lot. Now I can’t stop comparing.

My sister and I saw Les Miserables over the weekend. If you’re planning to see it, A) make sure you like musicals, and B) make sure you really like musicals, because it is literally over two and a half hours of singing. I only say this because some people seem not to have gotten the message that this film is a direct adaptation of the Broadway musical Les Miserables, as opposed to Hugo’s original novel (although some elements of that were incorporated to great effect). My sister, for example, didn’t quite grasp exactly how musical-y it would be and thus didn’t care for the film (even though I totally warned her).

Anyway, I don’t want to write a full review apart from saying I loved it. I just wanted to remark on how impressed I was by Samantha Barks’ performance in the role of Éponine. She totally stole the movie for me–which is saying something, considering she shared the screen with Ann Hathaway (who made me cry like a fool). Éponine is the character who sings my favorite song, “On My Own,” so I was really looking forward to seeing/hearing it the film.

I did some Googling when I got home and found this Samantha Barks performance from 2010, which was filmed for the musical’s 25th Anniversary. It’s a much different style than the way she sang it in the film* (which was much more raw, emotional and intimate), but it gives you a good representation of her singing ability:

*If you’re interested in hearing it the way she sang it in the film, that version can be found on Spotify. I learned Samantha previously starred as Éponine in the London production of Les Miserables from 2010 – 2011 before being asked to star in the film, which was her first movie role ever. I am impressed, Miss Barks.

Samantha Barks vs. Lea Salonga

Up until seeing Samantha, my only basis for comparison was Lea Salonga. Here’s her version of “On My Own,” which also blows me away every time I watch it:

Lea has such incredible control over her powerful voice, but Barks’ imperfections actually work in her favor, especially for a character like Éponine, who’s so vulnerable. I guess what I’m trying to say is, even though I think Lea has better range and ability, I felt like I connected more emotionally with Samantha in this role.

This is one of the things I love about musicals (and by extension film versions of musicals): seeing how the cast changes, and what each new performer does better or differently. It can also be a little frustrating at times, because you go to see a musical and and find yourself wishing you could mix and match from previous and current casts to achieve the perfect lineup. But for me that’s all part of the fun.

So, who do you think sings it better?

New Retro Wave: The 80′s Dream Compilation Tape

If you enjoyed the Rosso Corsa 80′s music discovery I posted about a few weeks ago, you’re going to love this. New Retro Wave, or NRW, is yet another newly-forming label and YouTube channel dedicated to 80′s revival music. Here’s an introduction lifted from their Bandcamp page:

For many years the music scene has been hungering for something that will fill a longing void. You have now stumbled across that sound ……the sound of the future…….the RetroWave sound. Harnessing the sound of the 80s and bringing a modern presence, Retrowave promises to bring back the nostalgic feel and daring musicality to what we call music. Turn your speakers up and “Live the 80′s Dream.”

Sold.

Just released in late December, the NRW put out The 80′s Dream Compilation Tape, a gloriously 80s-tastic album comprised of 13 different retro wave artists–such as Let Em Riot–who all manage to re-capture a slice of that dreamy, synthy era of 80′s music I love so much. And HOLY HOT PINK NEON, just look at this album art!

The 80s Dream Compilation Tape

[bandcamp album=2135727985  bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

 

The entirety of the album can be heard for free on Bandcamp, and is available as a “Name Your Price” download, available in MP3 or FLAC. Definitely worth whatever you’re willing to pay.

[via The Curious Brain]

They say we’re crazy but I just don’t care…

This may seem like a random thing to post to the casual observer, but it’s actually an indirect reveal of one of my top picks for a super-secret Top 50 list Howie Decker is putting together for UnderScoopFire and he asked me to contribute.

So many possibilities must be running through your mind–is it a list of the Top 50 Awesome 80′s Songs You’ve Completely Forgotten About??  The Top 50 Weirdest Paul McCartney Cameos?? The Top 50 Music Videos that Feature Bowling?? You’ll just have to wait and see.

I have no idea how the voting process will work, so this may or may not even make it into the final Top 50, but that’s of little consequence. It’s a fabulous song and Tracey Ullman is fabulous singing it. She also happens to be one of my favorite comediennes of all time and I welcome any excuse to post anything of hers.

 Appropriately, this song is from Tracey’s 1984 debut album which is titled, “You Broke My Heart in 17 Places.” Yup, that about sums up how I feel lately.

The best damn 80s synth music you’ve never heard.

It was a combination of happy accidents that led to my discovering Rosso Corsa Records, a small, independent label that specializes in super 80s-esque synth music that would totally rock my nuts off if I did indeed have any nuts to be rocked off. More precisely, they specialize in something called “outrun electro” (a genre they coined), dreamwave, and chillwave of the 1980s persuasion. If you liked the music in Driveyou already have a good idea of what to expect here.

Rosso Corsa Collective

First there was the incident where I was attempting to queue up “Crockett’s Theme” from Miami Vice in Spotify (you know you love it too, shut up) and accidentally clicked the auto-suggested best match of an artist by the name of Miami Nights 1984, who I decided to listen to based on the sheer awesomeness of that name alone. I immediately loved what I heard, so I starred the artist for later listening. A few weeks go by and then a video teaser for a new comic book called Skull and Shark pops up in my feed, via Kotaku of all places, who had the good sense to include the name of the artist who contributed the totally rad music. It was an artist called Lazerhawk. Freaking LAZERHAWK, you guys! I  wanted to find out more. No, I needed to find out more. My Awesome 80s Music Sense was tingling.

What it feels like when this happens:

Miami Vice

The similarities between Lazerhawk and Miami Nights 1984 were immediately clear–that is, totally synthy and 80s-tastic! I began to wonder if I had stumbled upon some underground revival movement for this style of music, and as it turns out, I kinda did. A little bit of research led me to the aforementioned Rosso Corsa Records who specialize in exactly this kind of 80s-infused, throwback electronica, and I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that both of these artists are on the Rosso Corsa label, or rather, I should say they are the label. And now we’ve come full circle.

I’d like to give you a little taste of each of the artists on the Rosso Corsa Records label so you can experience the awesome for yourself–you can thank me later. I’m also going to post some of their album art because it’s every bit as awesome as the music itself, and because you know how I have a thing for cool album art.

Lazerhawk

So for pretty much the past week straight I’ve been listening to Lazerhawk during my daily commute. It is perfect driving music, especially at night on those winding, deserted back roads through the woods I take between here and my new office. It makes everything feel intense, but in a good way. I just wish I could be driving KITT to get the full effect.

“Electric Groove” – Lazerhawk

A founding member of Rosso Corsa, Lazerhawk is Garrett Hays from Austin, Texas, USA. His outrun electro is robot pop mixed with dark synths and the occasional lyric. Two years ago I described him as reminiscent of everything that was good in the 80’s: synthesizer jams with gargantuan leads, hard toms, spaced-out melody and the pains of being pure at heart. Since then he has experimented with chill wave and disco, but with a fundamental link to the 80s.

          Lazerhawk Lazerhawk Lazerhawk

Miami Nights 1984

This is where my adventure down the rabbit hole started; as I said above, I was looking for Miami Vice music and accidentally listened to Miami Nights 1984 instead. It’s shaping up to be the best mistake of my music-listening life. I had a hard time choosing WHICH awesome MN84 song to share. I could have picked any of them, really. I recommend putting on your white Armani-style jacket while giving this a listen:

“Tiger 42″ – Miami Nights 1984

Miami Nights 1984 is Michael Glover from Victoria, BC, Canada. His obsession with the 1980s has led to the founding of Rosso Corsa Records and a revival of synthesizer music. With Rosso Corsa he is championing many artists such as Mitch Murder, Lazerhawk, Jordan F and Lost years to make 1980s-inspired music with modern fidelity.

          Miami Nights 1984 Miami Nights 1984 Miami Nights 1984

Mitch Murder

I haven’t yet had a chance to listen to everything by Mitch Murder, but believe me, it’s on my to-do list. The few tracks I’ve listened to in full, like this one here, are simply fantastic.

“Frantic Aerobics” – Mitch Murder

Mitch Murder is Johan Bengtsson from Stockholm, Sweden. His new wave styles and smooth production are somewhat of a rarity these days and that’s why he’s a large part of Rosso Corsa.Back in 2008 we heard a couple Mitch Murder tracks on myspace and were blown away by the clean pads, complex bass lines and clever chord progressions.  Since then we have been blessed with two Mitch Murder albums here at Rosso Corsa: Burning Chrome from August, 2010 and Current Events from November 2011.

 Mitch MurderMitch Murder

Lost Years

Anything that sounds like it could be on the soundtrack to Beyond the Black Rainbow gets a wholehearted thumbs-up from me.

 

Today we have the distinct pleasure to introduce Lost Years to the Rosso Corsa family and announce the worldwide release of their first EP: Nuclear. Three tracks wide, the new EP is a post-Terminator epic inspired by John F Kennedy’s “common enemies of man” inauguration speech. The 1980s run deep in the EP and it’s a new extension of our own Outrun Electro.

Jordan F

I couldn’t find much information about this artist, but he has released a couple of individual tracks and EPs through Rosso Corsa. Here’s his Facebook page and Bandcamp page. The little I’ve heard so far is aces; I’d love to hear more.

“Last Night” – Jordan F

HOLY SHIT THIS IS AWESOME MUSIC!

I know, right!? If you want to hear more, I thoroughly recommend you browse through Rosso Corsa’s music blog, which contains tons of great music and videos from every artist affiliated with them, as well as links to works by similar artists they recommend. It’s like one big 80′s music orgy over there. If you have Spotify, you can also subscribe or listen to this Rosso Corsa playlist I’ve gone through the trouble of compiling. (Again, you’re welcome!) I’ll continue to add more stuff to it as my discoveries unfold, but for now, it already contains over 7 hours’ worth of some of the best goddamn 80s synth music you’ve never heard.