Tuesday, January 25, 2011
30 Years Ago - Wow
Ah . . . the 1980's.
If you weren't alive during the 80's, surely you look upon that time with admiration and interest, wondering "what was it like to live through that?"
If you were alive during the 80's, . . . well . . . I'm . . . I'm sorry. We could have stopped it, but no one said ANYTHING. SILENCE IS DEATH!!!!!!
The culture of the 1980s was as varied and diverse as its music. Fashion was wild and experimental, and trends changed faster than you could say “parachute pants.” MTV ironically became the new “radio” - forever changing the way we both saw and listened to music. Video games, cable television, and the dawn of the personal computer were also helping to change us into a nation glued to the video screen. This increased access to media seemed to create a culture of experimentation – vendors and inventors constantly trying to find the new “hot” product or style. All of this attention to culture and change demanded a soundtrack to accompany the seeming randomness of the ideas being presented to us.
While the 80's were a crazy time, it did give us lots of inspiration, lots to laugh at, AND lots of great, great music.
This past Saturday night, the Dana Hall School Upper School Chorus and Chamber Singers presented their annual Choral Tribute concert, and this year's theme was "#1 Hits from the 80's." We did 22 songs that went all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.
Arranging all of the songs for that concert is a lot of work, but CHOOSING the songs can prove to be even more difficult. Just how many songs did I have to choose from? Well, before I arrived at the specific #1 Hits idea for the theme, it was just "The 1980's" and I was going to feature songs that to me best represented the decade. But then as I began to look at the list of great songs from that time, there were just way too many to choose from, so I narrowed the playing field.
I am not here to discuss the 22 songs we performed on Saturday. I am here to discuss the ones that did NOT make the cut. 25 songs that I really wanted to do with the choir, but just never made it to the arranging table. Ladies and gentlemen, Funkyman presents . . .
25 SONGS THAT MADE THE 80'S SPECIAL (but not special enough for us to sing them last week!)
"Escape" - Better known as the "Pina Colada" song. This was actually the 1st #1 hit from 1980, except it was recorded in 1979, and went to number one in December. It carried over into January 1980, and that plus the fact that high school girls singing about how much they like drinking and making love after midnight seemed a bit of a stretch. I'm sure you would agree.
"Magic" - Olivia Newton John's first big hit, and from one of the silliest movies of all time - Xanadu, about an old theater that also was a gateway to Olympus. I'll wait. . . . . . . Huh? Great song though. Check it out.
"It's Still Rock n Roll to Me" - Billy Joel's great little song is actually ABOUT the 80's New Wave craze. Smart and catchy. I sure would love to hear some more Billy Joel songs (HINT).
"Another One Bites the Dust" - Queen had a couple of #1 hits (Crazy Little Thing Called Love), but this one is probably one of the catchiest songs ever written. Too bad, there's not too much to sing - a little too simple. There are so many Queen songs that are awesome. I sure would like to hear some more Queen songs (HINT).
Hall & Oates Medley - I so wanted to do a medley of "Kiss on My List," "Private Eyes," and "Maneater" but it never got done. We were swamped with learning everything else, that this got kicked to the side. It was the closest to being done though. This was the first band that I collected every album for when I was a kid. Sure wished I could have featured them. (HINT)
"Jessie's Girl" - Um, duh. I can't believe we didn't actually do this, but people thought it was TOO obvious. Was there a better 80's song? Nope.
"Mickey" - Oh Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine that NO ONE EVEN AUDITIONED FOR THE SOLO. Otherwise, we were almost there.
"Who Can it Be Now?" - The first rock concert I ever saw was Men At Work. Too bad, none of my students have ever even heard this song. CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. Go listen now!
"Jack & Diane" - John Cougar's ode to young love. Perfection.
"Come on Eileen" - Great one hit wonder band - Dexy's Midnight Runners. Everyone knows the song, but did you hear the rest of the album? FAIL.
"Maniac" - Another #1 hit from Flashdance (We did "What a Feeling"). Awesome song, and another one-hit wonder. There are a lot of one-hit wonders out there, you know. (HINT)
"Love is a Battlefield" - Pat Benatar's anthem for young women. This seemed perfect for our concert, but it didn't translate well to chorus. I tried though.
"Owner of a Lonely Heart" - OK, I can never hear this song again without thinking of the movie "The Break-Up." If you've seen it, you know why. FUNNIEST. SCENE. EVER.
"Against All Odds" - One of the first pop songs I learned to play in elementary school. All of the girls were like "Oh my God, that's so amazing. I love that SONG!" And I was like, "Hmmmm, note to self . . . piano lessons are not a bad thing."
"When Doves Cry" - Prince's Purple Rain album is just one of those flashes of perfection that only happen once in an artist's career. That being said, Prince has hundreds of amazing songs. I sure would like to hear some more Prince songs. (HINT)
"We are the World" - Um, the 1st version please. And, while it was a great song . . . . we're done, thank you.
"Don't Worry Be Happy" - Originally one of the audience sing-along songs before I realized most people probably won't know it. I take for granted that this song is commonly known. I switched it up with "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang. - Good decision, Mr. Coleman. Very good. Ya-hoo!
"Kokomo" - The Beach Boys ode to the Carribean is a great song, but it conjured up images of "Escape" and pina coladas, and well . . .
"Tainted Love" - I'm sorry, but you can't think of the 80's without hearing the English accent from Soft Cell, or Human League, or Thompson Twins, or Madness, or Squeeze . . .
"Tempted" - How many people LOVE THIS SONG?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!
"White Wedding" - The song grabbed me, and the video scared me. Billy Idol was quite a sight. Couldn't see the girls singing it though. Maybe I should have just gone for it.
"Mr. Roboto" - One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands - there just wasn't enough time to give this the proper grand treatment it would have deserved. (HINT)
"99 Luftballons" - You know you like the song, but think about it - how much singing is there? The best part of the song is when she's NOT singing. Right? Exactly.
"Candy Girl" - I SO wanted to do this song - not enough time to arrange. Arrggh! New Edition - I'm sorry!
"Straight Up" - Another great song, but not much to do with vocally. Paula Abdul was a lot of things - a great singer was not one of them.
Well, enough for now. Next week, I'll have a grand announcement about the upcoming event and release of The Adventures of Funkyman CD - April 17. Look out for it! It's finally time!
And yes, Dana Hall friends. There were a few hints dropped into this blog about the future of the tribute concerts. Some of them are accurate and some not. Hmmmmm . . . just what will next year's be?