Wednesday, May 23, 2007

They said it wouldn't last, we had to prove them wrong.

I'm not one of those people necessarily that bemoans a time when things were different, or better, or more wholesome. I came of age in the 80's, for god's sake, in an age of Madonna, and "Girls on Film," and "I Want Your Sex," club kids and cocaine, the genesis of AIDS. Though I wasn't really cognizant of a lot of that stuff, I'm sure that somewhere along the way it seeped in, if in no other way than through drug and sex abstinence programs at school.

So it seems funny to me that people today are so much touchier about slutty pop stars and celebrities with drug problems. Maybe back then things were just kept under the rug better, and if Madonna had had a cocaine problem, maybe the whole world wouldn't have known about it. Maybe Madonna did have a cocaine problem, and my point is proven. Regardless, on my way to work today, on the Jammin' Oldies station here in Austin (where the use of the adjective "oldies" is used very liberally) I heard the song "Love Will Never Do (Without You)" by Janet Jackson. Surprisingly, it actually held up for me, and despite that I was a little embarrased to be listening to it (even though I was alone in my car), I really enjoyed it, and still remembered every single lyric, despite not having heard it in years and years.

What this has to do with the beginning of the post is that I remember how scandalized I and some of my friends were by the video. Why? Because Janet's wearing some kind of halter-top and frollicking on a beach with two nearly-naked men (though you didn't hear me lodging any complaints about Antonio Sabato, Jr. prancing around in a skimpy white speedo!); it seems downright wholesome today! In restrospect, I guess, it wasn't scandalous, but just unexpected from Janet. This was probably the only light-hearted single off of her Rhythm Nation 1814 record (which I probably listened to twice a day for 2 years), and thus far, her style of buttoned-up tops and having every inch of skin covered, even her hands, had achieved the maximum amount of stuffiness. But she was It for me. She was the Godmother of my personal Holy Trinity: Janet Jackson, Debbie Gibson, and Paula Abdul.

Whatever, I'm not ashamed. And you know the ironic thing about that is to this day, out of those three, the one whose music I still find the most listenable is Debbie Gibson's. Come on, "Only in My Dreams" is a fucking really cute, catchy little song.

Anyway, I guess I knew it was all over when Janet, at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards, while performing "Black Cat," ripped open her shirt to reveal her black bra and big ole luscious boobs in what would be the first of her many wardrobe malfunctions. Then Debbie Gibson grasped desperately at straws by playing a stripper in a video, and, well, I just realized how much Paula Abdul sucked. (And whose music is absolutely, totally 100% unlistenable to me these days.)

I'd already flirted briefly with some hair bands like Poison and Skid Row, but my sugary pop obsession officially ended, I think, in 9th grade when I discovered Disintegration by the Cure, and Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell by Social Distortion. I had new crushes, and this was the music, along with REM and some other crap, that my brother's friends listened to when they spent the night (he was 4 years older than I was) and walked around in their underwear. And gave me boners.


Mandy said...

The other day, on some MTV or Vh1 channel, they played the video for "Rhythm Nation." I hadn't seen it in at least 10 years or so. I still had that thing memorized, though, and knew all of the dance moves. I remember how I used to watch that long-form video (from which the "Rhythm Nation" video sprung) all the freaking time.

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