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80s POP Part I

Thought I'd resurrect some videos from those halcyon days of the early to mid 1980s, when an eclectic group of pop bands, complemented by visuals and performance art, released some wonderful videos to promote their bouncy, catchy tunes. Following a long stretch of disco and punk recordings, musical releases from 1980-1987 were extremely melodic and therefore memorable. There were one-hit wonders (Gary Numan's infectious "Cars"; Devo's "Whip It"; Bow Wow Wow's "I Want Candy" come to mind) and annual hits by the like of The Pretenders, Michael Jackson, The Police, U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna (I'm leaving out the metalheads and hairbands). The rise of MTV transformed America by compelling music fans to "watch" their music on TV when they weren't listening to their music on their boomboxes and Sony Walkmans. At least four of the original VJs on MTV now ply their trade on Sirius Radio.

Over the next few weeks I'm going to add a number of 80s videos and provide a little background. Some were classics of the period and others were lesser known but personal favorites. Today we start with a one-hit wonder, Wall of Voodoo's "Mexican Radio." This tune, a 1983 release, never cracked Billboard's Top 50. Organ and harmonica player Stan Ridgway, who was Wall of Voodoo's lead singer, collaborated with guitarist Marc Moreland on this synth-pop after hours of listening on the radio to Mexican tunes broadcast from south of the border. The video creates a faux-Mexican setting with images of the requisite sombreros, bullfights, iguanas, etc. Stan is in glorious full-twitch mode. And watch for those beans! Check out the video at the following link:

Another of my Top Ten 80s videos was the much less known "The Politics of Dancing" by the British Synth band, Re-Flex. Their debut album was named for the song, which was released in 1983 in an extended play form as well as a more radio-friendly version. The title cut actually rose to #24 on the American charts and #8 on the burgeoning dance singles chart. During the early 80s, Re-Flex opened for The Police on their last tour. John Baxter's vocals and guitar work, paired with Paul Fishman's irresistible organ riffs, created this memorable synth pop classic. Kudos to the video director, who created iconic Iron Curtain/1984 imagery with Godard-influenced scenes of anarchic youths; throw in some bad haircuts and those roller skates and enjoy! "We got the message. I heard it on the airways." First the video, then the extended play single.

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