Friday, August 20, 2010

Go-Go Listening

It's ten after ten at night as I begin to write this. Actually, it was 10:10 when I was writing in the title above, but whatever. It's a time like this and what do I do?


Based on my current sense of feeling and emotion after listening to a particular song, and having bright ideas and thoughts and memories due to the stimulation brought on by that, and all that preamble, I click on 'New Post' and write in 'It's ten after ten...'


Now and then I'll write about different music that I like other than Madness, and what I mean is I write about different bands, not a song review that's not a Madness one. A good example is my prose on Supertramp.


This one is about the Go-Go's, which was an all-girl pop band in the early 1980s.


I don't think I could find many adolescent guys like me who would go for all-female groups from twenty-seven years ago. Even I at one point, when I was young, found it kind of funny when my friend's father enthusiastically listened to the Dixie Chicks. I don't think many guys my age would like to admit liking an all-girl band - unless you were talking about Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, or Madonna, and if that were the case, they would be going for what they're wearing this time on stage or in their music videos rather than the sound of their music or voices.


I have no problem talking about my interest in the Go-Go's, or Bananarama, if I were to talk about them as well. Musically, not visually.


The first time I ever heard of the band was one Saturday afternoon in 2005(?) when this interesting show called 'Bob TV' - a visual music video show counterpart to the radio station - was on. I was enthusiastically watching it to see any music videos or songs from the 80s that I might like, or, more importantly, if they would play any Madness material. After all, the radio station is focussed on playing the songs of the last two decades (not including the recently passed 2000s but the 1980s and 90s) and the show was just the same.


At one point, the music video for a song called 'Vacation' came on. It was a full cast of girls sitting around with luggage and playing instruments, then being towed all together on water skis by a speed boat. I remember thinking it looked kind of funny but also nice and cool. I didn't really take much note of who the band was, only passing on the name 'Go-Go's' and soon forgot about it. All I have is the memory of seeing that music video.


Either the same year I saw that music video, or a year later, I am not sure, I would see a shampoo commercial using a really fun song that began with a piano, then started a guitar riff and then the chorus. There was a bass solo, then the chorus again.
I was immediately taken with that, especially the bass solo. I had no idea who sung it or if it was even a real song or just a piece commissioned by the advertising agency, but I liked it. I would often watch out for it on TV and get excited when it came on, eager to hear the chorus and the bass solo. 
The commercial itself was even bright and sunny and kind of going on a good thing, even though it was just a Pantene Pro-V commercial - it featured two girls in summery dresses tending to themselves and looking at each other through mirrors while lazily preparing for something upstairs, and ending with both of them meeting a man at the front door, likely to go out with him.
Sound similar to something I wrote about last Thursday? 
I'd never think that I'd virtually be the guy at the front door (in my case it wasn't exactly a date, and it was a meetup elsewhere in a public place, not at a front door, but character-wise) and the girls I'd see would in a way resemble the ones in the commercial. My synesthetic idea of the bass being me heading somewhere to have fun with girls had nothing to do with the story in the commercial yet the commercial would eventually be the backdrop of similarity to what I would end up doing in reality with actual girls.


I would put the commercial here, but I have in fact already put it on this blog, in my post about recreating the bass line.


A few years after seeing the commercial, as I would explain it in the blog post linked above, I would decide to see if I could learn that wonderful bass line from memory, and I did. Then I tracked down the commercial, figured out that the song was called 'Head over Heels,' and then proceeded to watch the actual music video.


I was very quick to make the connection between that song and 'Vacation.' Following that I did some research (I looked them up on Wikipedia, if you can call that research) and connected the band to a few other obscure sounds I remember hearing before, like 'We got the Beat' or 'Our Lips are Sealed.' 


I think the band itself is quite fun and nice to listen to. I'd called the bass line in 'Head over Heels' as making me think of myself in a quirky mood, and their songs are quite exactly that, along with their videos. They also had quite a good graphic artist design their album covers. Their sound was just fun and out there.
I also find the guitarist, although from back then, in the music videos, kind of cute.




They'd began in California (oh, boy, an American band, not a British one!) in the late 1970s and eventually put together the main line-up, with Belinda Carlisle as lead vocals, Gina Schock (drums), Charlotte Caffey (piano, lead guitar), Kathy Valentine (bass, though she'd originally played guitar and had just started playing bass when she'd joined the group), and Jane Wiedlin (guitar, and the one I'd found cute). They supported Madness, a widely-known and popular British ska/pop band, on a tour throughout England and Los Angeles.*


They would spend the early 1980s producing albums like 'Beauty and the Beat,' 'Vacation' and 'Talk Show.' They'd have the most success in between 1981 and 1984, with the aforementioned singles 'We've got the Beat' and 'Our Lips are Sealed.' 'Head over Heels,' from their last big album, 'Talk Show,' also did extremely well, and it's probably the song that really sits well with me. Although I find 'Vacation' (the song) pretty good as well.


The thing with me, though, is the fact that other than Madness, and on a smaller level, Supertramp, I'm one of those people who have an eclectic taste for music - I like what I think is the best song from a band, but not the rest of their material. I love a tonne of songs that aren't by Madness, but of the bands that produce them, I only like their one song, sometimes two songs. I only like 'Rio,' 'The Reflex,' and 'Hungry like the Wolf' from Duran Duran, but that is it. I like 'At the Hundredth Meridian' by The Tragically Hip, but that is it. The best song in the world is, in my opinion, 'Another Day in Paradise' by Phil Collins, yet I rarely listen to any of his other songs at all due to lack of any real interest.


It goes the same with the Go-Go's - I like 'Head over Heels,' but that is it. Their other songs aren't bad at all, fun and quirky and nice and refreshing, but I never really listen to any of them due to lack of interest. I use 'fun' and 'quirky' and I mean it in a purely genuine manner - but I need to have interest, and I don't.


The bottom line is just what I wrote - 'fun' and 'quirky' and 'refreshing' - that's how I'd describe the Go-Go's. I like them. They're just plain cool.


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*I use 'widely-known' and 'popular' because that would be appropriate usage here on this blog where they are mentioned countless times and which is ran by a devoted Madness fan, making them widely-known and popularized by such a fan. And they were and are widely-known and popular throughout Europe, Australia, and Japan.


Justin C.

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