“The Winner Takes It All” was the first single off ABBA’s Super Trouper album. It paints a vivid picture of the aftermath of a breakup. ABBA isn’t known for the depth of their lyrics (what the hell is “Super Trouper” about anyways?), so it’s interesting how detailed this song is. They find an inventive way of comparing a relationship to a game. “The winner takes it all/The loser’s standing small/Besides the victory/That’s her destiny”.
The music is beautiful, going between a soft piano arrangement and a midtempo beat. It makes you sad and reflective, but you want to dance too. The vocals are also great. My favorite part is Angetha’s soaring “alllllll” on the last verse.
“Winner” went to #1 in several countries. It was the group’s last top ten song in the US, which is odd considering there were strong follow up singles like “Lay All Your Love on Me”. Those people who didn’t get ABBA were the real losers.
Thirty years ago, my all-time favorite show, Beverly Hills 90210, premiered. This was the OG teen drama that opened the door for all the rest. It had soapy storylines, very pretty people, and a mythic zip code that everyone wanted to live in. The fish out of water premise focused on the Walsh family moving from their comfy normal Minneapolis home to the glitzy Beverly Hills. There was stern patriarch Jim (James Eckhouse), his loveable wife Cindy (Carol Potter), and their dynamic twins Brandon (Jason Priestly) and Brenda (Shannen Doherty). B&B enrolled in West Beverly Hills High School and met brooding bad boy Dylan McKay (Luke Perry), queen bee Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), clotheshorse Donna Martin (Tori Spelling), spoiled rich boy Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering), brainiac Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris), and dorky David Silver (Brian Austin Green). Immediately, I was drawn in and made Thursday nights at 9pm (and then Wednesdays at 8pm) appointment viewing. My walls were decorated with posters of the cast. I even had the dolls. Really wish I had held onto those. 90210 was my adolescence. I was 11 when the show began in 1990 and months way from turning 21 when it went off the air in 2000. It will always have a special place in my heart, so for its anniversary I thought I’d celebrate the best things about the show. And some of the worst.
Best Character – Brenda
You can’t get any better than Brenda. Beautiful, smart, and headstrong. Plus, she usually had the most compelling storylines. You wanted to watch every week as she navigated the rough terrain of Beverly Hills. Shannen’s performances were always on point, making her the best actor in the cast. When she left at the end of season 4, I stopped watching…for a few episodes. I may have come back, but the show was never quite the same without Brenda.
Most Boring Character – Andrea
Andrea wasn’t necessarily setting the screen on fire. Her trajectory was running the school newspaper while crushing on Brandon, getting knocked up and married her freshman year of college, and studying to be a doctor. Blah. Yeah, she cheated on her husband, but it was a tedious affair. Really, the most interesting thing to happen to her was getting run down by a car in season 3.
Best Couple – Brenda & Dylan
Brenda and Dylan were an intense couple. They loved hard, leading to several fights and breakups. But no matter what, they were always there for each other. Also, Shannen and Luke had amazing chemistry.
Worst Couple – Donna & Ray
Ray was an abusive cheating douchebag who threw Donna down a flight of stairs. Luckily, she gained the courage to end things with him before it was too late. On a positive note, he did write a catchy song, “How Do You Talk to an Angel”.
Best Rivalry – Brenda vs. Kelly
Brenda and Kelly started off as best friends before quickly becoming frenemies. The minute Brenda turned her back, Kelly was scamming on Dylan, leading to the final B&D breakup. Even though Brenda got over it, I couldn’t forgive Kelly. #NeverForget
Best Parent – Cindy Walsh
Cindy was always there to listen to her kids’ problems and offer good advice. It’s funny how Carol Potter quit acting to become a family therapist. Life kind of imitated art.
Worst Parent – Felice Martin
Donna’s mom (Katherine Cannon) never failed to be the worst. She was the typical Beverly Hills snob, looking down on everyone around her. Turns out she was a big hypocrite, preaching about abstinence while cheating on her husband.
Best Villain – Amanda
Amanda made a brief indelible villainous mark on the show in the “Slumber Party” episode. From the get go she thinks Brenda’s pajama party is beneath her and isn’t afraid to tell them all. Then she suggests they play “Skeletons in the Closet” where each girl has to confess secrets about themselves. This ends in tears and humiliation. Later, it’s revealed that Amanda has been taking diet pills that are killing her personality. She finally lets her guard down and eats something. Bitchiness cured.
Best Kelly Tragedy – Cocaine Kelly
Drama stuck to Kelly like white on rice. Speaking of white stuff, Kelly getting hooked on cocaine was her best tragic moment. She spiraled downward into the bottom of a coke vial, enabled by Colin (Jason Wiles), her boyfriend at the time. After hitting rock bottom, she checked into rehab. That led to her meeting fellow addict, Tara (Paige Moss), a complete psycho who went single white female on her. Never bring home friends from rehab.
Dumbest Tragedy to Befall Kelly – LAX Drive-by Shooting
The gang was coming back from a trip to Hawaii when they found themselves gunned down by a pair of car thieves in the parking lot. Kelly took a bullet and immediately went into a coma. Then she woke up with amnesia. Seriously.
Best Exit – Dylan takes off
Dylan’s arc for season 6 involved trying to find the man responsible for his father’s death. That turned out to be mobster Anthony Marchette. In a soapy twist, Dylan fell in love with Marchette’s daughter, Toni. They got married and planned to leave Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, Marchette put a hit on Dylan, but the assassin accidentally killed Toni. A grief-stricken Dylan left town, riding off into the sunset on his motorcycle.
Most Annoying Character – Clare
Clare (Kathleen Robertson) came in during season four as Brandon’s stalker, basically. When she got over him, she moved onto David and then Steve. None of the pairings were great, but Claire was consistently annoying. Judgy and always ready to blame someone else for her problems. It didn’t help that she had a bad case of resting bitch face.
Best New Character – Valerie Malone
After Brenda left BH, Valerie Malone (Tiffani Thiessen), a Walsh family friend, was added to the canvas. She was no Minnesota twin, but she did a fine job. In Valerie, the show finally got a straight up bitch (with a heart). She was sneaky, deceitful, and full of snark. Her main target was Kelly, so I took to Val pretty quickly.
Worst New Character – Gina
After Tiffani left the show in season 9, producers rushed to replace her with Vanessa Marcil, a popular daytime soap star. She played Gina, Donna’s cousin (but actually her half-sister, long story). Unlike, Val, Gina was one-dimensional and lacked chemistry with any member of the gang.
Funniest Character – Steve
Steve provided a lot of comic relief. Intentional or not. Those loud silk shirts he wore in the early seasons were quite laughable. Not to mention his curly mullet.
Biggest Waste of Talent – Hilary Swank
In year 8, Hilary Swank was cast as Steve’s girlfriend Carly. She was fired mid-season. The rest is two-time Academy Award winning history.
Best & Worst Fashion – Donna
Over the course of a decade, Donna followed every 90s fashion trend. She wore clothes well, like the red & black sweater and short-shorts set she had on when she found out her mom was a big cheater. Or her low cut, yet tasteful (thanks to a cross) sparkly black prom dress. Sometimes the clothes wore her and showcased her insane boobs too much. But she always made an effort, however misguided.
Sexiest Man – Dylan
The late Luke Perry was as hot as he was talented. You can’t resist a bad boy with a lot of forehead.
Best Track from the Soundtrack – “Love Is”
The show came out with a soundtrack in 1992 filled with a bunch of great songs. Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight duetted on the beautiful ballad “Love Is”. It’s the track I like to play over and over again…and usually sing the Vanessa parts.
Best Musical Guest Stars – Color Me Badd
In “Things to Do on a Rainy Day”, Brenda, Kelly, Donna, and David run around the Bel Age Hotel trying to meet Color Me Badd, who are staying there. Hijinks ensue. At the end of the episode, the Badd guys serenade Donna with “I Adore”. It’s delightfully cheesy.
Best Musical Performance
In the “Wild Fire” episode, new girl Emily Valentine (Christine Elsie) sings “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” at the Hello Day talent show. Brenda, Kelly, and Donna assist with some mean lip synching and Robert Palmer backup dancer realness.
Dumbest Line – “I choose me”
Faced with a marriage proposal from Brandon and a trip around the world with Dylan, Kelly went with “I choose me”. Wrong choice, girl.
Most Character Growth – David
David started out as a skinny little geek in season 1 who was obsessed with girls and being popular. He grew up quickly (emotionally and physically) and became more secure with himself. Plus, he won over Donna and joined the group. There were dramatic lows, like his drug addiction and mental illness issues, but he overcame them. By the end of the show, David proved to be a good friend, brother, and partner.
Heart of the Show – Nat
Nat (Joe E. Tata), the owner of the Peach Pit, was like a second father to everyone in the group. He provided a shoulder to lean on and a delicious burger to eat.
Best Trip – Paris
In the summer episodes of season 3, Brenda and Donna traveled to Paris for a study abroad program. Brenda pretended to be French (complete with a bad accent) while being romanced by cute American tourist Rick (Dean Cain). Meanwhile, Donna tried her hand at modeling. That didn’t go far. The trip overall was a fun retreat from the usual Beverly Hills stories, plus the girls grew closer as friends.
Best Event – Spring Dance
At the end of season 1, the gang gathered together for West Beverly’s spring dance. Brenda and Kelly wore the same little black and white dress. Brenda did it better. Donna wore a ridiculous dress with a hoop skirt no less. Steve was a jerk because everyone forgot his birthday. Andrea nearly missed the whole thing. And Brenda and Dylan made love for the first time. It was a night to remember. Btw, the senior prom in season 3 is a very close second. Donna getting drunk and nearly getting tossed out of school will never get old. #DonnaMartinGraduates
Worst Event – Brandon & Kelly’s almost wedding
Viewers were prepared for longtime couple, Brandon and Kelly, to get married in the season 8 finale. They’d been through so many dramas and this was the natural next step. Instead, they both got cold feet and called it off. Wtf?? Not cool, show.
Best Season – Season 2
Fox was thinking out of the box when they started airing the second season in the summer. Kids at home had nothing else to watch and quickly latched onto the fledging show, making it a hit. Brenda and Dylan’s drama took center stage. She had a pregnancy scare and they broke up (in Dylan’s vintage Porsche while R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” played). Meanwhile, Brandon diched his job at the Peach Pit for a run as a cabana boy at the Beverly Hills Beach Club. To remind you, Beverly Hills is landlocked. How did we not question this alleged beach? When school started, we met wild girl Emily, who introduced us to U4EA. Scott (Douglas Emerson), David’s former best friend, accidentally killed himself. Everybody was talking about sex. David’s dad Mel (Matthew Laurence) and Kelly’s mom Jackie (Ann Gillespie) got together. Jim and Dylan waged WWIII with Brenda stuck in the middle. And Kelly had a brief romance with older man Jake Hanson (Grant Show). A handyman who lived over on Melrose Place.
Worst Season – Seasons 9 & 10
One thing is clear, 90210 stayed too late at the party. The show could have ended with the gang graduating from college in season 7. Or with Brandon and Kelly’s wedding in season 8 (if they hadn’t called it off). But instead they dragged it out for 9 and 10. Brandon left town, leaving no Walshes in Casa Walsh. There was too much focus on newer characters like Gina, Noah (Vincent Young) and Matt (Daniel Cosgrove). Eternal playboy Steve suddenly married his girlfriend Janet (Lindsay Price) and had a kid. Donna developed a pill addiction. Kelly was raped. Yes, Dylan came back, but he was on yet another booze spiral. Nothing was really clicking in those last two years. The show lost its spark.
Best Moment from the Series Finale – Donna & David’s Wedding
As mentioned above, by the time we got to season 10 it was REALLY time to end things. But it was still a sad moment. I was going to miss this show that I grew up with. In the final moments, soulmates David and Donna got married. Their friends and family gathered on the dance floor to dance to Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration”. It was a bittersweet moment.
In 1995, Mariah Carey released Daydream, one of the best albums of her career. It’s certainly in my top 3 for her. The record is a fantastic mix of pop, ballads, and midtempo r&b. She also creeped into the hip-hop world with a certain remix. Critics praised her new work and fans rushed to buy it. The album went platinum ten times over and spawned three #1 singles. Let’s take a look back.
12. When I Saw You
A simple ballad. But basic for Mariah is still infinitely better than most singers at their best.
11. Open Arms
Standard cover of Journey’s classic song. My arms are halfway open for it.
A throwback to a 50s or 60s sound, but with Mariah’s signature tone. I could almost hear this playing in the background of an old Sandra Dee movie.
9. Daydream Interlude (Sweet Fantasy Dub Mix)
She takes us to the club with this hypnotic interlude, giving us a brief moment to dance it out.
8. Long Ago
Midtempo 90s r&b in a nutshell. She flows easily over this bass line.
7. Melt Away
The ballad sister of Long Ago. She wrote it with Babyface, producing a smooth jam
6. One Sweet Day
The longest running consecutive #1 (16 weeks) up until 2019. Mariah partnered with Boys II Men on this track about losing a loved one. It’s equally sad and beautiful. My favorite part is the run-filled back and forth between Mariah and Wanya.
5. I Am Free
With a title like “I Am Free” you wouldn’t think this was a love song. Mariah writes about being a prisoner locked inside herself until someone came into her life and freed her with their love. It’s a hopeful message captured with soaring high notes.
4. Underneath the Stars
A pretty melody matched with some of the best layered vocals. It makes you imagine first-time love on a starry summer night.
3. Looking In
One of her most introspective songs where she lays out all of her raw emotions. “She smiles through a thousand tears and harbors adolescent fears. She dreams of all that she could never be She wades in insecurity.” It’s quietly powerful and heartbreaking.
2. Always Be My Baby
A fan favorite that never gets old. ABMB marked the beginning of a long history of collaborations between Mariah and producer Jermaine Dupri. They know how to make the hits that become the soundtrack to our lives.
The first track off the album, as well as the first single by a female artist to debut at #1 on the Billboard 100. Her ninth #1 overall. She’s backed by an infectious sample of the Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love”. Then she flipped it with the remix featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard. At the time, putting a mainstream pop singer with a rapper seemed crazy. But Mariah grew up loving hip hop. These days every female pop star does a song featuring a rap artist. I’m not saying Mariah invented this “hip-pop” genre. But I’m not not saying it either. In any case, Fantasy gave us the iconic lyric “Me and Mariah go back like babies with pacifiers”. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that.
As I mentioned one post earlier, Mya’s “Case of the Ex” went to #2 on the Billboard 100. What kept it from reaching #1? Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women”. Beyonce, Kelly, and Michelle stomped on Mya’s chart-topping dreams with this hit. The group recorded the track for the 2000 movie adaptation of Charlie’s Angels. Coincidentally, DC had just downsized to a trio, matching up with the Angels. Ironically, they had kicked out a Farrah.
“Women” focuses on capable self-sufficient ladies who can buy their own shoes, cars, and houses. They don’t need any men to do it for them. A strong message backed by DC’s smooth vocals and the Trackmasters’ slick production. My favorite moment is the breakdown where the ladies harmonize perfectly. It makes you want to throw your hands up at them for sure.
It’s after midnight and she’s on your phone. Saying come over cause she’s all alone. I could tell it was your ex by your tone.
From the opening lines you know “Case of the Ex” is about a trifling chick. In this case, Mya’s boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. She came out of nowhere and is showing inappropriate interest in Mya’s man. Reaching out to him at odd hours normally reserved for booty calls.
Now what it is that she wants? Tell me what is it that she needs? Did she hear about the brand-new Benz that you just bought for me?
Her goal is to breakup Mya’s relationship. She’s probably pissed that she didn’t get a new car when she was dating the guy. Jealousy is a motivator.
Cause y’all didn’t have no kids. Didn’t share no mutual friends.
Further proof that he shouldn’t be messing with this girl. They have nothing holding them together. Hang up the phone, dude.
And you told me that she turned trick when y’all broke up in ’96.
My favorite lyric. Hats off to whoever thought of rhyming trick with ’96. I love how much of a shade-fest “Ex” is. Mya drags this chick, verbally, for a good four minutes. Add in that da-da-da-da-da-da-dum beat and you have a great track.
“Case of the Ex” went to number #2 on the Billboard chart in 2000 and became one of Mya’s most popular singles. There was also the fierce video where she breaks it down in the desert while wearing studded denim. Very hot indeed.
Ten years ago, this month, I moved to San Francisco from LA. It wasn’t the wisest idea at the time. Nine months earlier I’d been laid off from my job and didn’t have any prospects. Moving to a city that was more expensive wasn’t the financially responsible thing to do. But I wanted to make a change and get away from LA. I had visited San Francisco once before, on vacation, in 2006. I liked all the different neighborhoods, the history, and the overall vibe of the city. Cut to 2010 and I started to feel SF pulling me back. It’s not something I can fully articulate. I just needed to be here. There were some tough times and dead ends, but ultimately moving was one of the best decisions I could have made. I’ve met my amazing partner, formed lasting friendships, and found a job where I feel valued. SF has become home.
Just to bring it back to old pop culture, one of my favorite films set in San Francisco is the 1978 comedy Foul Play. It features the Oscar nominated Barry Manilow song “Ready to Take a Chance Again”. I remember traveling to SF to find an apartment before the big move. I was in a store and this song came on the overhead system. Was it a sign? Maybe. In any event, I was definitely ready to take a chance.
The other night I was watching Clueless and realized that I still remember so many of the lines. That’s a testament to the great movie that writer/director Amy Heckerling created. It holds up all these years later and stands out as one of the best comedies of the 90s. For its anniversary lets count down Clueless’ best quotes.
25. “Whatever!” – Amber
Short and to the point. You need to make the W hand gesture, like Amber (Elisa Donovan), to really sell it.
24. “Wasn’t my mom a total Betty? She died when I was a young. A freak accident during a routine liposuction.” – Cher
RIP, Cher’s mom.
23. “I believe that was your designer impostor perfume” – Cher
Is designer impostor perfume still a thing? It should be.
22. “No shit, you guys got coke here?” – Tai
21. “Yo, you’re getting on the freeway!” – Murray
When I lived in LA, the freeway scared the hell out of me too.
20. “He does dress better than I do. What would I bring to the relationship?” – Cher
It’s a valid question.
19. “Cher’s saving herself for Luke Perry.” – Dionne
Weren’t we all?
18. “I am totally, butt crazy in love with Josh.” – Cher
That’s the greatest love of all.
17. “You see how picky I am about my shoes and those only go on my feet.” – Cher
Cher (Alicia Silverstone) knew her worth.
16. “Do you prefer the term fashion victim or ensemble-y challenged?” – Cher
Ironically, when Amber gets slammed here, her outfit looks cute.
15. “Girlie, as far as you’re concerned, I’m the messiah of the DMV.” – Instructor
That driving instructor was drunk with power.
14. “Would you call me selfish?” “No, not to your face.” – Cher & Dionne
Dionne (Stacey Dash) was a true friend.
13. “I do not wear polyester hair, ok. Unlike some people I know, like Shawana.” – Dionne
We never did get to meet Shawana and her bad hair extensions.
12. “May I please remind you that it does not say RSVP on Statue of Liberty.” – Cher
This entire speech is amazing. Worthy of a least a B+.
11. “It’s a dress.” “Says who?” “Calvin Klein.” – Cher & Mel
That was a cute CK dress. The jacket gave it an extra, transparent, layer.
10. “Dionne and I were both named after great singers from the past who now do infomercials.” – Cher
The early 90s were a rough time for Cher and Dionne Warwick…and their psychic friends.
9. “So ok, I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation and all, but I don’t get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair and cover it up with a backwards cap and like we’re expected to swoon? I don’t think so.” – Cher
This monologue describes 90% of the guys I went to high school with. Wash your hair and pull up your pants, dude.
8. “Rollin’ with the homies.” – Tai
Coolio was a wordsmith.
7. “Oh, no, you don’t understand. This is an Alaia.” “An Awhatta?” “It’s like a totally important designer.” “And I will totally shoot you in the head.” – Cher & the Mugger
I had never heard of Alaia until I saw this movie. It was educational.
6. “He’s a disco dancing, Oscar Wilde reading, Streisand ticket holding friend of Dorothy.” – Murray
I can relate.
5. “She’s a full-on Monet. It’s like a painting, see? From far away it’s ok, but up close, it’s a big old mess.” – Cher
The nastiest read in the movie. Very descriptive.
4. “My plastic surgeon doesn’t want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose.” “There goes your social life.” – Amber & Dionne
Dionne served Amber with some wicked shade.
3. “You’re a virgin who can’t drive.” – Tai
Tai’s (Brittany Murphy) delivery and facial expression always kill me. She’s a savage.
2. “The was way harsh, Tai.” – Cher
The only appropriate response when someone calls out your hymenly-challenged-driver’s-license-less existence.
1. “As if!” – Cher
As if anything else could take the top spot. It’s the best line in the movie. Iconic as F.
In 1985, Columbia Pictures released Joel Schumacher’s coming-of-age-in-your-20’s drama, St. Emo’s Fire. The movie focuses on seven friends who have recently graduated from Georgetown University in D.C. The gang includes philandering Alec (Judd Nelson), his steadfast girlfriend Leslie (Ally Sheedy), moody Kevin (Andrew McCarthy), wild Jules (Demi Moore), reckless Billy (Rob Lowe), loyal to a fault Wendy (Mare Winningham), and infatuated Kirby (Emilio Estevez). Their post-grad year is filled with strife, heartbreak, laughter, and reluctant steps toward adulthood. The critics roasted the film, summing it up as a bunch of yuppies whining about having to face the real world. One writer even gave the actors the unflattering nickname, The Brat Pack. But the audience loved the movie, making it an 80s favorite. Let’s revisit St. Elmo’s Fire.
After college, Alec begins to pressure Leslie about marriage. When she puts him off, his next natural step is to begin cheating on her. Oh, ok. Kevin is also in love with Leslie, but since he can’t be with her, he stops having sex altogether. Hence, his moodiness. When the truth comes out about Alec’s cheating, Leslie flees to Kevin’s place. He confesses his love for her and they sex it up all over his apartment. Leslie keeps her pearl necklace on the entire time. That’s extremely yuppie. Alec unexpectedly comes over to see Kevin and Leslie smacks him in the face with the news that she slept with his best friend. Drama. After this all goes down, Kevin assumes he and Leslie will be a couple now, but she puts the brakes on that. It’s interesting because we get both guys’ points of view about what they want, but very little from Leslie. It’s not until the end of the movie when she tells Alec and Kevin that she’s not going to be with either one of them and is instead choosing herself, that we finally hear her side. It would have been nice to see more of this. Sidenote, since Kevin stopped sleeping with women, everyone thinks he’s gay. Jules even theorizes that he’s in love with Alec. That would have been a much more interesting storyline. Later, after they both realized Alec was an asshole, Kevin and Leslie could have become a 1985 Will & Grace.
Jules was wild in college, but after graduation she takes it to a new level. For one, she can’t manage her money. Who knew getting an advance on your salary was a thing? She maxes out her credit cards, buying clothes and garish home décor. There’s a terrifying giant ceramic clown head in one scene. Then she has the brilliant idea to start sleeping with her boss, which ultimately leads to losing her job. This is followed by a cocaine spiral. In a misguided suicide attempt, she locks herself in her apartment and opens all the windows, letting in the freezing cold air. The stupidity of this proves she’s really just crying out for help and not trying to end it all. Billy is able to comfort her back into reality. She tells him that she’s so tired. Yes, dear, adulting is hard. Now close your windows, find a new job, and get on with your life. Also, throw away that scary ass clown head.
This is the nuttiest story in the movie. Basically, Kirby went out on a date with Dale (Andie MacDowell) back in college. One date that led to nothing. Four years later, he runs into Dale. She barely remembers him, but Kirby is still hooked on her. This fixation escalates. He follows her to a party, where he creepily watches from the window. Then he crashes the scene and tells her he’s obsessed. No shit. Instead of calling the cops, Dale invites him over to her place. Girl, really? She tries to dissuade him from his infatuation. Instead, Kirby has tantrum, because things aren’t going his way and storms out. Later, he throws a big party to impress Dale, but she doesn’t show up. Incensed, he tracks her down at a cabin in the snowy mountains that she’s sharing with her boyfriend and throws another fit. Again, instead of calling the authorities on this psycho, she invites him in after his car gets stuck in the snow. The next day, when Dale is politely seeing Kirby off, he kisses her. Instead of telling her boyfriend to kick his ass, she actually swoons. WTF? Kirby speeds off, thrusting his fist in the air triumphantly. I truly cannot figure out what we’re supposed to think about this story. Stalking is romantic? If you pressure a woman enough into liking you, she’ll eventually cave? This behavior isn’t acceptable and yet everyone in the movie goes along with it. Not me!
Billy & Wendy
Out of everyone in the group, Billy has the hardest time letting go of college and stepping into the real world. It’s funny because he has the most adult attachments. A wife and baby. Instead of trying to gain some stability for them, he remains selfish and irresponsible. He loses jobs as soon as he finds them and gets drunk every night. He’d rather run around with his friends than grow up. It’s a sad Peter Pan situation. Wendy, unfortunately, enables Billy’s behavior. She’s in love with him and can’t call him out on his ridiculous behavior. Even after he gets drunk and totals her car, nearly killing her, Wendy forgives him. I found that plot point to be really stupid. But not as bad as Wendy offering her virginity to him. Sigh. So, Billy realizes he needs to get his shit together. He’s going to divorce his wife so she can be with a guy who actually wants to be a husband. And, Billy is moving to NY. If you can make it there…well he probably won’t. As a going away gift, Wendy gives him her V-card. Now, I know Billy is incredibly good looking (this is prime Rob Lowe hotness here), but he’s still a tool. He doesn’t deserve your “flower”, Wendy.
The theme song to the movie, “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” is pretty awesome. It incorporates the themes of the movie (growing up, finding your future) in one jazzy-pop-rock moment. Plus, the video, starring singer John Parr and his enormous fluffy hair, is perfectly 80s.
Forty years ago, someone thought it would be a great idea to make a pseudo-biopic-musical about the Village People called Can’t Stop the Music.That someone was Allan Carr. At the time, he was on top of his game after producing Grease two years earlier. Given that blockbuster success, it’s not surprising that Carr was able to get any film he wanted green-lit. Similarly, the Village People were a very popular disco act. The kitschy group, consisting of the Cop (Ray Simpson), Cowboy (Randy Jones), Native American (Felipe Rose), G.I. (Alex Briley), Construction Worker (David Hodo), and Leatherman (Glenn M. Hughes), had sold tons of albums worldwide. The movie could have been a hit in theory, but it crashed and burned. The box office was horrible, critics ripped it apart, and it won the first annual Razzie Award for Worst Picture. That’s the triple crown of sucking. Over the years, CSTM has bounced back somewhat and become a cult classic, mainly because it’s so delightfully absurd. Here are ten ridiculous things about the film.
10. The writing
The plot is very thin. Musician Jack (Steve Guttenberg) enlists his roommate Samantha (Valerie Perrine), a former supermodel, to help him get a record deal. He can’t sing, so a group is needed to perform the music. They assemble a motley crew and brand them as the Village People. Now they just need to get Samantha’s ex-boyfriend Steve (Paul Sands), president of Marrakech Records, to sign the group. There’s also a silly subplot about Samantha falling for uptight lawyer Ron (Caitlyn Jenner). The movie needed a bit of romance I suppose. Bronte Woodard wrote the screenplay and you have to wonder how high he was while doing so. The story is just a bunch of nonsensical moments and wacky hijinks thrown together. There’s also the wooden dialogue with lines like, “The 70s are dead and gone. The 80s are going to be something wonderfully new and different, and so am I”. Yikes.
9. Nancy Walker
On one hand, it’s fantastic that actress Nancy Walker was hired on as the director. She became the first woman to helm a multi-million-dollar movie. On the other hand, this is what she made. CSTM marked her first and last feature film. There’s also the fact that before this she was best known for starring as the “quicker picker upper” lady in Bounty commercials. No amount of paper towels could clean up this mess of a film though.
A lot of CSTM revolves around Samantha, which is a bad choice. Perrine isn’t a bad actress, but she can only do so much with such an empty character. She mainly bounces from scene to scene being bubbly. Carr originally wanted Olivia Newton-John for the role. She turned him down and signed on to be in Xanadu instead, which is the equivalent of dodging a bullet only to get hit by a bus.
At one point, Jack and Samantha hold auditions for new group members. There are some random acts, like a clown on stilts and a stripper. Then the Leatherman struts in and sings a stirring rendition of “Oh Danny Boy” while standing on a piano. Perhaps they were trying to add some gravitas to the film?
6. I Love You to Death
I-I-I-I love this song to death. It’s dumb and repetitive, yet fun. The Construction Worker sings it ferociously, in a fantasy sequence, as female dancers in tight red dresses slink around him. I think it’s supposed to be sexy, but it fails on that front. Once a dancer bites his bicep, it’s impossible to take this seriously. Not to mention all the glitter that rains down on them.
5. Guttenberg’s gusto
Guttenberg is dialed up to a 23, on a 1 to 10 scale, every moment he’s on screen. The best is the opening where he enthusiastically roller skates through the streets of NYC as “The Sound of the City” plays on the soundtrack. He’s just so damn jazzed up about…everything.
4. Do the shake
In order to finance the Village People, Samantha comes out of supermodel retirement to do a TV commercial for milk that also features the group. The beginning of the ad has little boys dressed up as the VP characters. They drink their milk and grow up to be strong macho men. Then they do an intricately choreographed Busby Berkley-type number to “Milkshake”. It’s nuts. Also, a DJ should put together a mashup of the song and Kelis’ “Milkshake”. A shakeoff.
Lulu (Marilyn Sokol) is Samantha’s sidekick. She’s also an incredibly horny woman. Sex jokes and double entendres fly out of her mouth at a rapid pace. Sokol comes off as plain goofy, though, as she vamps and gyrates for the camera. You feel so embarrassed for her, yet you’re unable to turn away.
The Village People, Samantha, Jack, and Ron take a trip down to the local Y and find themselves caught in the middle of a cluster of hot muscular guys. A gay fever dream ensues. There’s locker room lip syncing, synchronized diving, slow-motion wrestling, and some very 80s special effects. Side note, CSTM is the only PG movie to feature full-frontal male nudity with a flash of peen in the shower scene. Someone at the ratings board must have been asleep at the wheel. There’s also a boob shot with Perrine. Something for the straight guys in the audience. All zero of them.
1. The fact it exists at all
But, really, how did this movie get made? In the summer of 1979, when production started up, disco was dying due to oversaturation and the “disco sucks” movement. Building a movie around a fading music genre/scene probably wasn’t the best idea. Someone should have stepped in and pulled the plug before it even began. Of course, then we wouldn’t have this craziness to “enjoy”. Maybe you shouldn’t try to stop the music afterall.
Back in 1990, Mariah Carey made her debut with her self-titled album. Up until then, she was a backup singer in NYC looking for a big break. That came when she met Tommy Mattola, the president of Sony, and signed to his record label. Contrary to the Svengali narrative, Mattola didn’t create Mariah. Most of the material for that first album came from a demo tape that she had made in high school, she wrote her own songs, and her incredible singing wasn’t taught. She was a powerhouse of her own making. Here are Mariah Carey’s 11 tracks.
11. You Need Me
You know what you don’t need on the album? This song. It’s overproduced and boring.
10. Sent from Up Above
Only slightly better than YNM, but still “eh”. It sounds very early 90s and not in a good way.
9. All in Your Mind
The best moment on this one is the whistle note staccato at the end.
8. All Alone in Love
AAIL is one of those songs you’d hear on a “quiet storm” radio night. Smooth and easy.
7. There’s Got to Be a Way
A song with a message that still needs to be heard today. Mariah sings about overcoming racial inequality and bigotry.
This is a fun dance/r&b track with some electric guitar thrown in. She even raps. You wouldn’t think it would work and yet somehow it does.
5. I Don’t Wanna Cry
The fourth single off the album and probably the most overlooked. It’s not as flashy as the others. However, it’s a beautiful heartbreaking song that deserved to go to the top of the charts.
4. Love Takes Time
The album was already finished and mastered when Mariah wrote LTT. She intended it for her next record, but the executives at Sony loved it and insisted she include it on MC instead. It’s another pretty breakup ballad. Her specialty.
For her third single, Mariah switched it up and put out an up-tempo new jack swing track. Over a very danceable beat she tells her ex that he’s going to regret letting her going and he’ll come crawling back someday. She knows her worth. Then she takes it home with an amazing high note. Where’s he going to find another girl that can do all that?
A very close 2nd to the top track here. Vanishing is the deep album cut that many fans point to as their favorite. It’s so simple yet so rich with the piano and her vocal runs that seem to go on forever.
1. Vison of Love
The song that introduced Mariah to the world quickly established her signature style. In 3 1/2 minutes she goes from incredible low notes to the highest of highs. It’s the definition of vocal gymnastics. Throw in a timeless melody and you have a hit. The fact that there was nothing like it out there at the time definitely contributed to its success. That uniqueness inspired Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, and countless other singers. Mariah’s vision completely changed the music scene.