Saturday, September 8, 2012

Volume VIII: Freddy Mercury is King

(Disclaimer:  This post has videos that you absolutley must watch.  So make the time.  Turn up your sound or switch over to a device that allows you to watch.  Because watch you must if you want to come along with me on this long, strange trip down memory lane) 

"Oh, he's very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."

I love that line.  I love the movie it came from.   I love the decade it was made in.  I love that decade's music, the movies, the television shows, the memories... 

I. Love. The. 80's.

And here is why:


Every generation has movies that define it.   70's movies were campy, cheesy, and often low-budget.   90's movies were crass, vulgar, and often scary.  80's movies were funny, and innocent, and often totally and completely unrealistic.  Ask anyone to name an 80's movie and 8 times out of 10, they will say Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club or Weird Science.  They might also mention Top Gun (ladies, remember that stirring in your loins the first time you saw the beach volleyball scene?).  They might quote Inigo Montoya's famous "You killed my father.  Prepare to die" line.  Or Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd's "looking good, Billy Ray.  Feeling good, Louis."    And they will definitely tell you to turn it up to 11.

The 80's gave us "The Karate Kid" and "The Terminator."  It gave us "Stand By Me" and "Wall Street."  It introduced us to the Brat Pack (Rob Lowe, you rocked my world), and Gordon Gekko ("Greed is good") and blessed funny man, John Candy (taken far too soon).    John Hughes defined a generation of angst-ridden, but remarkably mature and  quasi-functional teenagers.  James Cameron scared the shit out of us with the terrifying notion of thermonuclear war brought on by hostile cyborgs, and big-budget movie guru John Landis directed a 13-minute music video phenomenon called "Thriller."  

Admittedly, many of my favorite movies were not made in the 80's.   But the thing that is so unique about 80's movies is that when you watch one, you immediately not just identify it as one, but will often flash back to vivid memories of having watched it when it first came out.  80's movies are so uniquely, well, 80's.  Watch the following and tell me I'm wrong.  You won't. You can't.   Because you know it's true.


Alex P. Keaton and Dr. Cliff Huxtable.  No other explanation needed. If you don't know who they are, leave immediately.  Your kind is not welcome here. 


Leaving the best for last.  Whether or not you agree with my statement that the 80's was the best decade (there, I said it), and even if you were still wearing diapers in the 90's, you have to agree that what defined the 80's more than anything was, in fact, the music.  When I was in boarding school (1987-1990), my roommate and I used to take turns choosing which music to fall asleep to.  Samantha was a pop kinda gal (Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, etc), while I leaned more toward the stuff coming from the other side of the pond (The Cure, Depeche Mode, etc.).  Sure, there was plenty of crossover - Samantha would (rightfully) call bullshit on me if I claimed never to have  lip-synched to The Hooters - and my greatest prep school victory was turning Sam into a bonified lover of Pink Floyd's "The Wall"  (which by the way, is the greatest album ever made.  Period.  End of Discussion).  And we both  LOVED Erasure (who the hell didn't?).  But the point is that while we both had somewhat different tastes in music, there was very little I loved that she hated, and very little that she loved that I hated (with one very strong exception:  Rick Astley.  God, that guy SUCKED).   

The 80's was all about the music. And with the music came The Look. Whether you (girls) wore crucifixes and bustiers, or you (men) grew your short hair long and started wearing eyeliner, chances are you adopted some sort of look based upon on the music you loved. I suppose the argument could be made that adapting your look to go along with the musicians you admire is not a phenomenon belonging solely to the 80's, but I would say that music in the 80's changed people's looks more so than any other decade.  Why?  Because musicians defined their music with their look.   And there were SO many different looks to go along with SO many different kinds of music.  And the truly remarkable thing was that you rarely just identified with one look.  You couldn't.  There was just too much good stuff out there.  There is a reason there are more cover bands out there playing 80's music today than any other kind.  Because it was simply that good.

I can't end this without paying tribute to Live Aid.  For those of you too young to know, Live Aid was a concert put on July 13,1985 simultaneously in stadiums in the UK and in Philadelphia to help raise money to feed the millions of Ethiopians that were quite  literally starving to death before the world's eyes.  British musician and humanitarian, Bob Geldoff masterminded  the concert and pulled together an extraordinarily impressive list of musicians to play in both venues. When all was said and done, Live Aid became one of the largest-scale satellite link-ups and television broadcasts of all time, with an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations.  I was one of those 1.9 billion viewers, watching the entire concert live on a TV in my living room in Mexico City.  I remember, being 13 at the time, thinking "NO WAY, they've got Madonna AND Wham! AND Phil Collins!   And  Holy shit, U2 is there, too, and so is Duran Duran!!"  It was so cool.    But then Queen came out on stage at Wembley Stadium.   Freddy Mercury, in a white tank top  and tight light blue jeans,  sat down at his piano and starting playing "Bohemian Rhapsody."  He then stood up, grabbed a floor mike, and began singing Radio Gaga.  And suddenly, in a moment that can only be described as absolutely freaking  mind-blowing, I watched Freddy, live, get 100,000 people to simultaneously, and in perfect synchronicity, sing and clap along to his song.  It then, and to this day, absolutely blew me away.  A description of his performance cannot be described.   Do yourself a favor, and whether or not you liked Queen, whether or not you liked, loved or hated the 80's, watch this video.  And turn it up.  Turn it way up.  Turn it up to 11.  Therein lies the reason the 80's rocked my world.  Therein lies the reason Freddy Mercury was King.  

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