songs that i shouldn’t be embarassed to rock to, but that you should be embarassed to hate

much like the fine, fine acting of Patrick Swayze, the world is full of little treats for the eye and ear that people spend a lot of time and money telling you you should be ashamed to like. i mean, you’d be surprised how much it costs to send someone to “Swayze rehab,” which is nothing more than a fancy name for a torture chamber where they try to convince you that Road House and Red Dawn aren’t unappreciated gems. and the electric shocks! my god, the electric shocks! but to hell with them, they will never stop my devotion! PAIN DON’T HURT!

…but i digress. we’re not here to talk about Swayze anyway, but rather, some rocking tunes that i adore that people are always telling me “suck.” sometimes they use the phrase “really suck” as well. these people, however, are just like the villainous Brad Wesley: DEAD WRONG, and evil to boot. they might also be prone to hiring help that likes to declare “i used to fuck guys like you in prison,” but who knows. so, without further ado, a defense of these songs.

IT'S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
i would be hard-pressed to think of an album cover that screams “THE FUCKING EIGHTIES” more than the one above does. Sweden truly does bring us the greatest in rock and/or roll music.

Europe – “the Final Countdown”
reason you should fondly recall it: it’s the theme to many of GOB’s magic tricks on the canceled-to-soon show Arrested Development.
not only does this song contain the sweetest use of keyboards in the history of rock music (though i grant that this statement isn’t true at all and that, if i made an effort, i could probably think of 13 better keyboard uses in rock music, but still), but it rocks hard enough to overcome the fact that Europe is, in truth, a glammy metal band from both the 1980s and the mean streets of Sweden, which is saying something when you consider how lame Sweden can really be (though i gather they eat horse sausage there, which also rocks). supposedly, this song made Europe (which should have kept the name Force) huge international stars, and further, it’s supposedly inspired by David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” which merely wishes it rocked as hard as Europe did.

the Cardigans – “Iron Man”
reason you should fondly recall it: uh… it was on the radio a lot in, i think, the late 1990s to early 2000s? i’m not sure how much it was on the radio, but that’s what i remember it from.
so, speaking of Sweden… we have another Swedish band of dubious rocking ability who faded out after some mild radio attention, but note this: they apparently loved Black Sabbath. also, i have a soft spot for covers of songs that are “softer” than the originals, a list that, beyond this track, includes Townes Van Zandt’s cover of “Dead Flowers,” Shawn Colvin’s cover of “Viva Las Vegas,” and Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” (though neither version of that song is really very hard). anyway, i find there’s something catchy Nina Persson working over this tune about a time-traveling man sheathed in iron who is the cause of an apocalypse he foresaw in a poppy way. make of it what you like!

ROCK LOBSTER
Fred Schneider and Rockwell remain wondering if the unabashed praises of janklow are in any way beneficial to their musical careers.

the B-52s – “Rock Lobster”
reason you should fondly recall it: that sweet, sweet acoustic version of this song that Peter plays to soothe Cleveland on that one episode of Family Guy.
yeah, that’s right, i think that fucked-up joke version of “Rock Lobster” that Seth MacFarlane sung is actually legitimately better than many “real” songs out there in the universe; deal with it. anyway, perhaps it’s worth not trying to explain how awesome this tune is (because i don’t believe people have heard it and disagree), so instead, i will tell this tale: my Irish sidekick and i both love this song to death, so we demanded the DJ at his wedding put it on the play list. so the whole evening is going by, and nothing, nothing, a tease of “Love Shack” that we feared was his “compromise on the Rock Lobster issue” and nothing. and then… late in the evening… he played it. and everyone stops what they’re doing and looks up with his general “what the fuck” expression. whereas he and i both say “FUCKING AWESOME.” yeah, okay, we drink a fair amount, how’d you know?

Rockwell – “Somebody’s Watching Me”
reason you should fondly recall it: the reasons are mysterious; everyone’s heard the song, but they don’t know where and they don’t know what it’s called and they don’t know who sang the song… but they know the song when they hear it.
what i do at times like this is not even pretend i can describe the awesomeness, and so i quote Gerald Posner talking about it: “then came “Somebody’s Watching Me,” a song by an artist named Rockwell, who was really [Berry] Gordy’s song Kennedy. it was his first, and despite an unusual mix of partly sung, partly spoken lyrics cast in a British accent, the record was a solid hit.” i can’t even fathom how someone comes up with this idea. “okay, Rockwell, sing the song a little, but don’t sing it too much. pretty good, pretty good… tell you what, British it up.” and this is why it’s totally awesome.

JERK OUT
so, while i am not convinced that Morris Day or any of his friends are musical geniuses, goddamn it if they’re not charismatic!

Morris Day & the Time – “Jerk Out”
reason you should fondly recall it: well, i don’t know about “Jerk Out” specifically, but maybe you liked them rocking out at the end of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back? or during Purple Rain?
so, “Jerk Out.” maybe you saw the video, where Morris Day and friends run around with their mirror, throwing handfuls of cash at people, riding around in the greatest, most-stretched-ever pink limousine, and going so far with their infectious rhythm as to make a stuffed buffalo head on the wall start to dance? you didn’t see it? well, all that shit happens in it (though i am told i am supposed to call it a “bison’s head”), so maybe you SHOULD see it. also, i think Prince might have been the one that actually wrote this song, and i think we can all agree that, androgynous or not, he’s a fucking musical genius.

so there you go: these songs are awesome and that it is. hey, janklow, how come Michael Jackson’s songs like “Thriller” and “Wanna Be Starting Something” aren’t on this list? because we all agree that Michael Jackson’s album Thriller is fucking awesome, and no one needs to defend it.

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