Hi all, how’s your summer going? It’s EIGHTIES WEEK at therockmom as I revisit and revise one of my most popular posts: Can It Really Be Summer Without ’80s Music? New! Improved! Now with Spotify playlists!
It’s a funny thing, nostalgia. Recently, I found myself sitting in the way back of my stepmom’s minivan listening to her Best of Hall & Oates CD as we drove to dinner. Now if that’s not a recipe for summertime teen regression I don’t know what is. But there I was, YO sitting next to me, both of us enjoying ‘Maneater’. See a cover version of that track (by Grace Mitchell) was used in the recent Ben Stiller movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. YO’s good pal likes the new, cover song while YO is partial to the original. Me too. That groovy rhythm section to begin, then the sneaky guitar line, a hint of sax and… oh oh here she comes. We sang the chorus together – a small but sweet mother-daughter bonding moment – and I wondered: is it weird to be proud of my child’s taste in music?
On a slightly more musi-cophical note, I don’t know why bands/singers/artists insist on covering ’80s songs because it’s extremely difficult to improve on the original. I’m talking specifically about Moby’s recent ‘Rio’ cover as well as London Grammar’s take on the INXS tune, ‘Devil Inside’ – used for a Game of Thrones trailer. While I’m a big fan of both acts, I have to say these cover tunes were overly serious, dreary and well, just plain boring.
Eighties music is supposed to be fun!* So don’t forget the lightness, the slinky-ness, the insouciance. Guys in deconstructed linen blazers on the bow of a sailboat in the tropics!
I’ll leave you with that image as well as the first of FIVE ’80s playlists – all killer, no filler – to get you through the week. Enjoy!
*Unless of course you’re Morrissey.
There was a time when I thought ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’ was an H&O original.
We grow, we learn…
Thirteen apparently. Did you also know that, according to Friendster, “Each of them has their part and talent in Super Junior which make them a brilliant boy band”?
Now you know.
Welcome to therockmom.
Yes, yes, you might be thinking that I, therockmom, must be some ultra hip, NY or LA based mommy who is/was either (1) a music industry insider juggling motherhood and a high-powered career; (2) a musician who lost a decade to the road before settling down to have kids; or (3) a semi-retired groupie with arthritic knees and… kids.
Actually I live in that rock-n-roll hotbed of Hong Kong, where the top shows coming to town this month are:
1. A Memorable Evening with Dionne Warwick
2. Super Junior – the Korean boy band you’ve just met
3. IL DIVO
I am not kidding.
It is a wasteland. Many moons ago, I saw Coldplay…
But here at therockmom I will endeavor to combine in print two of the most important things in my life: music and motherhood. I have two daughters, ages 8 and 6, and my not so secret desire in college was to write for Rolling Stone. Following a rather nonlinear path I ended up in Hong Kong where I write, edit (print & video), run a small film production company and try to get my kids to ballet and swimming on time. My husband is Australian, which dovetails nicely with my high school INXS mania and lifelong affection for Mental as Anything, Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly.
KCRW.com is my lifeline, along with recommendations from friends (London, LA & Austin) and the occasional music/entertainment mag.
Currently I’m enjoying MGMT: listening to Oracular Spectacular and slowly coming round to the duo’s reinvention of the ‘80s sound that seems to be dominating alt-pop these days. MGMT has an ‘80s feel (which, like obscenity, you can’t quite explain but you know it when you hear it), though their influences go further back. “The Youth” echoes Hunky Dory-era David Bowie while “Electric Feel” and “Pieces of What” remind me of Jagger’s falsetto on “Beast of Burden” (Some Girls, 1978). The album reveals itself slowly so give it a few spins before you make up your mind.
A few months back, MGMT discovered that a French political party, UMP, was using their song “Kids” at political rallies and then videoing the rallies and posting the video on the UMP website. The band didn’t sue but they did notify UMP about the infraction and eventually received a settlement, which they have very generously donated to artists’ rights organizations.
You can watch and listen to the video for “Kids” at
Let me know what you make of the low-fi concept: a young boy sees grotesque monsters – in his crib, in his carseat, around town – yet his iPhone-cradling Mom is completely obvious to her son’s peril. The toddler cries and cries trying to get away from these red-faced ogres. And MGMT say, “no children were harmed in the making of this video”. He looks pretty traumatized if you ask me (being a rockmom and all), and I won’t even mention the silver lame outfits the band wears!
The new Moby – Wait For Me – certainly tests my optimism index. Try listening to this in the car and not feel the urge to crash in to a wall or inhale some carbon monoxide! It’s beautifully depressing, definitely worth a listen, but best left in the background when you’re cooking or organizing all those Polly Pocket bits and pieces.
My kids love Moby’s “Porcelain”. When this comes on the iPod speakers on a Sunday morning, my oldest stops and asks me to clarify the lyrics. She’s fascinated about ‘in my dreams I’m dying all the time’ and asks me, “What does he mean?” I try to keep my definition of a love song brief. She can wait to learn about heartbreak.
The last new CD on rotation in the car is by JET. My husband, who was an early fan, dismissed their last effort as weak, and I don’t think Shaka Rock is going to change his mind much. The latest doesn’t rock nearly as hard as Get Born. The first few songs scream ‘over-produced pop success’ so badly I’m embarrassed for them. There’s even a chorus of kids’ voices on the first track – what is this? Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper? What happened to the hard-driving, left of center rock that seemed so Aussie-cool a few years ago? Well, you have to get past the slop until track six where “La Di Da” reaffirms Jet’s rock credentials. I also like “Walk” and… well, that’s about all I like – two songs. “Times Like This”, “Let Me Out” and “Start the Show” are just fillers. It’s Jet flirting with: are we AC/DC or are we Rob Thomas?
If you can’t figure it out boys, go ask Super Junior!