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WuTang: (Unfortunately) Now and Forever July 17, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Music, Pop Culture Rants.
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Now I know me some Wu Tang Clan. They were first introduced to me in the summer of ’92 when hip-hop was still, quite possibly, a character in a Beatrix Potter novel as far as I was concerned. I didn’t understand hip-hop. I thought Young MC was as dark and evil as things could get (I mean, to a thirteen year old, discussion of butts and busting moves was as gangsta as my pubescent mind needed.) I didn’t understand NWA. Maybe it was my naiveté or just the fact that I didn’t live in Compton. I didn’t get metaphors about hot steel and pigs and clocking hos (all of which still to this day make me wonder how doe one actual clock their ho? And what is time good for?) But I got the Wu Tang clan.

Sure they also spoke of hos and pigs and smoking this thing they called blunts, but they also made reference to the Hall of Justice and superheroes. I knew of them. Heck, I spent a whole summer trying to build a submersible underwater megafortress of my own out of a ripped Slip and Slide and a Kiddie Pool that smelled like a mixture of mold, rapidly congealing waterproof Coppertone and my grandma’s shag rug. And while half the things I couldn’t understand (Thank you, vocal cords ravaged by unfiltered blunts…seriously guys, if you don’t want the reunion album to be called “Live From The Iron Lung…with RZA on Voice Box” it is called a filter…Look into it), I identified with Superheroes. And Kinko’s. And the 7-11. They were using metaphors a young obsessed white-bred suburbanite like me could understand. And for that, I became a member of the Shaolin Nation.

And it is because of my in-depth Wu knowledge that what I heard from a moving car today has got me all riled up. Now I have heard some amazing things from cars that feel the need to validate the thousands of dollars spent on their bells and whistles. I’ve heard songs that should never be played at ear busting volumes ever, unless you are trying to drive a Panamanian drug lord from their home (Mandy by Barry Manilow is no more poignant at 200 decibels that it is at 4). I’ve heard a La Cucaracha horn that sounded as if it were warbled by a dying seal. And I’ve heard the children cry (Though I was nice enough to let them know I tried at the next stoplight.) The car was whipping by at a pretty nice clip and I heard it for what was a brief second, but I know what I heard was…

“Cash rules everything around me…got to get the money…dollar, dollar bill, y’all…”

Now to many, that may just sound like Raymond Babbitt mumbling at the blackjack table or that rambling homeless guy who shuffles past your job while wearing a pair of Skidz Pants. But I knew it as this: the seminal lyric from Wu Tang’s hit “C.R.E.A.M” I’d know it anywhere. I’d know it’s capitalistic, playful undertone wrapped in a glaze of double entendre anywhere.

And I also know it wasn’t sung by any member of the Clan. Not GZA. Not Ghostface. Not Raekwon. Not even the dulcet set-on-fire-then-put-out with sand-paper tones of ODB and Method Man. This was somebody singing a COVER VERSION of a Wu-Tang song and what’s more, somebody was playing it loudly, all while zipping down the streets.

Which brings me to one cardinal rule that for the sake of good taste everywhere, we all must adhere to this day forth: NO COVER VERSIONS, NO REMAKES, NO REIMAGININGS OR REINTERPATATION OR RE-ANYTHING OF RAP/HIP-HOP SONGS!

Why? I mean, they do it all the time, you say? I mean, don’t you own everything the Neptunes re-did for every popular artist ever? Yes, but you see those are remixes. A remix is taking a track and adding your own personal spin on it. Or it means hiring some rapper to write lyrics on the back of his hand while limoing over to the recording studio and dropping them in the middle of the song with no cohesiveness what-so-ever. Or it means taking the lyrics and mashing them up with something that seems clever. But the song remains. The lyrics, the basic cadence, the messages..all still there. A remix is pushing it the same way you tested the boundaries of a childhood ultimatum by walking across the kitchen floor on your knees…Ma, you said “Don’t Step Foot in the Kitchen….”But it’s still the same song. Not a remake. A remake is when a person or persons take the entire song and re-do it their own way. Lyrics, background, even the message.

Yet they do it with movies and those turn out fine, right? Some do, yes. Or rather they work in theory. Updating The Manchurian Candidate in our own paranoid present existence was a great idea in hindsight. Casting Dean Stockwell as a shadowy villain was not (what no other Sci-fi TV second bananas were available? You’re telling me Twiki wasn’t available? That “Biddi-Biddi-Biddi” sound was menacing.) And retelling classic ideas with a modern spin is intriguing: Just avoid Bernie Mac (Ocean’s 12), Bernie Mac (Guess who’s Coming to Dinner) and Bernie Mac (Charlie’s Angels).  Remaking or reimaging a film can work because of concepts. It’s like how we are all amazed when somebody sets Shakespeare in modern times. Ideas resonate. And Leo and Claire looked good in Hawaiian shirts and strange sexy corset things

Oh, then Mr. Sarcastic, rap songs don’t resonate then, huh? Incorrect. Most classic and meaningful songs do resonate, because their themes and messages are universal. You can still drive down a street in the South Bronx and almost feel “The Message” coming out of your subconscious. And while it may be great to see a bunch of elderly rappers, dressed in purple track suits that make them look like Batman villains, paired with the hippest, pulled from the Billboard list new guard on a VH1 honors show, but that is a homage. It is not a remake.  What I heard was a remake and those are not allowed.

Why? Because a hip-hop song is kind of like what needs to happen at that precise moment to be truly great. (And who wants to remake a BAD song? Unless you really feel the nuances of MC Hammer weren’t truly touched upon). You need the backing track, the words to have meaning or significance and all the while you have a producer over the scenes like an urban Gepetto. And when you switch any of these things, the song ceases to hold its integrity and its specialty. It’s like a great speech: you need the poignancy, the words themselves and most of all, the speaker. You don’t see people re-enacting great speeches unless it’s for a bad community theatre production of Lincoln! The Musical or during a casting call for voice over work on the History Channel. And a good rap song works like that. Ingredients are precise and perfect and to re-make them gets just some bad cake.
So remake the movies, the pop songs, and remix the rap songs until you’re blue in your D&G sunglassed face, but don’t remake em. Because you lose everything they stand for. If you do, you’re left with a song that doesn’t sound good coming from a car as it speeds by on a New York street. Something no amount of ride pimpin could save.

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And I Will Lead You…Not Just Because I Am Spartacus, But Because You Suck June 2, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Music, Pop Culture Rants, Sports, TV.
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Just in case you were sleeping or you don’t own the magical cable compass that enables you to find the NBA games playing on your satellite provider (All of which were last seen somewhere between the local cable Access show and the network devoted strictly to macramé), the young phenom LeBron James did something this week that defies description. And no, it’s not hawking soda or shoes wearing a fake beard that looks like it was stolen straight from the 5th grade production of Oklahoma at Jackson Elementary school.

LeBron James SINGLEHANDEDLY won a game. And while I don’t mean it was like Space Jam where Michael Jordan scored every point while Looney Tunes characters did Looney tunes things or that Bugs Bunny cartoon where he beats the Gashouse Gorillas (Fact: That cartoon marked the first appearance of the over used “Ball player screaming I Got It over and over than being hit and ending up dead beneath a tombstone reading “He Got It” which itself was based on an unfortunate 1920’s ballplayer that was later documented in “The Short Life of BatShit Blind Magee: The Musical.) LeBron had other players on the court with him. He was playing a team in Detroit that has been for years trying to bring the snuggly, feel-good reputation of the 1994 Knicks (Make a basket…get a knee to the groin…everyone wins.) But his surrounding players all looked like Mike Myers during the Katrina benefit when Kanye went on about George Bush and his, um, predilection towards a certain race. They couldn’t hit the side of a barn if you lathered the barn in aluminum siding and made the ball look like the Epcot ball and coated it with magnets. The team would put up a nail biter against the Midvale School for the blind or the Special Olympics team from Russia (Though they are in wheelchairs, those Russian kids do have mad ups though).

And none of this is exaggeration. The rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers are that bad. And LeBron’s feat was that amazing. He scored 29 of his team’s last thirty points. For you math nerds, that means he scored 97% of his team’s last 30 points (Don’t be too impressed…I stayed awake in 6th grade algebra just because I had a crush on Meghan Delaney who sat across from me…She had pink braces, carried a My Pet Monster pencil case and consistently smelled like Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth, the “it” fragrance of mid 80’s middle schoolers.) He was making shots that you’ve only seen Jordan and Bird make in McDonald’s commercial. He put his team on his back, carried them, stopped for a drink, realized they still needed to be carried, grumbled a bit and put them right back on his shoulders.  Just when you thought Detroit would wise up and triple team and force one of the other guys on the court to make a shot, he still sliced through them, often dunking and making a victory face that looked like a combination of an orgasm look and that Aw Shucks look extremely talented people make when they’re trying to be humble.

Surely, though, this has had happened before in team sports. A great player can put his team on his back and will them to victory. Michael Jordan did it so often; it was more news when he had an average night. Joe Namath willed the Jets to a Super Bowl victory despite wearing fur underwear and a leisure suit under his uniform. And Reggie Jackson’s Afro hit two home runs in a World Series game (His Fu Manchu moustache went 2 for 4 with a double and an Intentional walk, though. Always never did live up to its’ facial hair potential.) Sports are the rare case when superhuman ability of one can trump average abilities of several others. Like when Superman went against the entire canon of Kryptonian villains. He won, despite almost being permanently distracted by their amazingly snug leather jumpers borrowed from the set of Xanadu.

But that gets me thinking. There is no possible way this can happen in any other aspect of pop culture. Sports are by definition a black and white entity. You win or you lose. And while some may say pop culture has no competitive nature, tell that to the guy who doesn’t sell well on billboard while a glorified Now That’s What I Call A Mix Tape with his big single on it outsells him by a million albums. So here are the Spartacuses. The quick examples of how one person surrounded by enough talent to fill the cup the doctors makes you pee in during a physical, LeBronned themselves to success.

MUSIC – The Jackson Five

This one is easy. Back when he was still a kid and possessed over 80% of his own physical features, Michael Jackson carried his brothers like Chewy carried the dismantled C-3PO. Think about it. You had cute little powerhouse Michael. Tito. Jermaine. Um, Andrew. Action Jackson? Get the point.

Michael did all the work. His brothers simply looked like they were trying real hard to dance the way chorus members do when Barbra Streisand was in a musical. Pull Focus and somebody will have your nuts on a platter. Can you, quickly, name one song they let anybody else sing lead vocals on? I mean, even when the Beatles let Ringo sing, they made the song so out there, you couldn’t help but laugh at him and shrug the same way you do when you child breaks into the peanut butter and smears it all over your vintage Cheryl Tiegs poster. And they had every major Motown hit for something like ten years. They called it the Jackson Five. Though really the talent level, maybe, was more like the Jackson 2.18 (Rumor has it Tito cooked a mean frittata)

(Special shout out to the early nineties band Bonham. The band was named after the DRUMMER, which is ort of like naming your NASCAR team after the guy who changes the tire. Sure, he’s important and keeps things going, but besides ex-drum majors, who’s there to see the drummer?)

TV – Bosom Buddies

An entry into the realm of 80’s sitcoms when all you needed was a premise so outrageous, it could buy you at least ten episodes. It had everything working against it. Men in drag (There is the long standing corollary that only British men and obscenely tall black men are funny in drag. Short, squat, white American men are creepy.) Donna Dixon (who if not married to the Jabba the Hut that is Dan Aykroyd would be nothing more than the punchline to one of the greatest jokes ever on the Simpsons). And a Billy Joel theme song. Not even sung by Billy Joel.

Yet it’s one joke premise was kept on for almost three seasons. And why? Tom Hanks. The man had talent and even made the writing (a step above Chimps on Typewriters and the most recent Spiderman script) sound witty. He played off Peter Scolari (Who?) and traded barbs with Wendy Jo Sperber (a talent so great they didn’t even bring her back for the second Back to the Future). That’s like succeeding in the 100-meter dash while wearing clown shoes and leg weights. Tom Hanks willed a premise so thin and writing so bad. I think the show even got an Emmy nomination (though that may not be a big deal…think the words Emmy nominee Jm J. Bullock…nuff said there)

MOVIES – The first Pirates of the Caribbean

It was a movie based on a RIDE. Not a book, not a cartoon, not even a comic strip. It was based on a theme park ride. You know, the thing you wait in sweltering heat for 90 minutes for, it lasts for 2 minutes and you walk out going, “Really? That was it.” It was directed by the guy who did The Mexican.  (You screwed up a movie with Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt and Tony Soprano? Seriously, I could direct that using a marionette version of myself that speaks in Farsi and still have a decent film) And the bad guys were skeletons borrowed from a Harryhausen film. Surely, this can’t make any money, let alone garner any viewers. But enter Johnny Depp.

He swaggered. He swished. He made us all gape that he was acting his ass off and in a Disney film no less. People lined up to see him dash across the scene and deliver one-liners. And while the other young leads have gone on to promising careers, back then they were simply “the kid from Lord of the Rings who played the elf” and “Say, you’re sure that’s not Natalie Portman?” Johnny Depp carried that movie so far, they gave him two sequels. They banked millions into him and by the end of the third he was phoning it in. Surely, that makes him the ultimate Spartacus.

So I congratulate LeBron. He has announced his arrival on the scene and I applaud him for it. But don’t rest on your laurels just yet. Because everybody else is resting on theirs and they ain’t got no stinking laurels. Being the loadbearer can be a bitch. Pretty sure Tom Hanks says that to Peter Scolari every day while Peter washes his car and grooms his cat.

The Pen: Now About as Mighty as a Butter Knife April 20, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Music, Pop Culture Rants, TV.
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I know they’re out there. I mean, they are millions of students across this nation who are majoring in English right now. How could you not? English involves two major facets: reading and writing. Both of those are taught slightly after you learn how to pee. It’s major that doesn’t get much harder. Math involves learning more elaborate theories and precepts as you go deeper in school. Science involves more knowledge of different experiments and the like. But English? If you can read a book your Senior Year, you probably could have read the exact same book your Freshman year. Books don’t get harder (save for Ayn Rand. I truly believe there are a few eighty year old professors in the Midwest who have said, “Screw it…this Fountainhead…Where’s my Matlock DVD?”) I know…you get it…it’s easy. Like I said, though, I know they’re out there. With your English degree, you probably want to be a writer. Well, then, where the hell are they?

They ain’t in the movies. Because Hollywood is too busy making films written by Philip K. Dick. Now don’t get me wrong…I am not ripping on the late Mr. Dick. Besides having the second greatest porn sounding non-porn name in history (How could anybody ever beat DICK BUTKUS?), he was a very prolific and quite often prophetic writer. His stories are rife with interesting characters, amazing scenarios and good vs. evil scenarios. But, he’s gone. He’s done writing. And we’ve exhausted him now. Take the movie “Next.” I’m sure it’s rife with all Dick is famous for, but look at the Taglines. “From the writer behind “Blade Runner” (okay, this might work…great movie and Daryl Hannah’s boobs), “Total Recall” (okay..Cool special effects and the beginning of Ahnold’s “understandable” phase and THREE boobs) “Minority Report” (all right, the official last movie before Tom Cruise officially signed his “Crazy Card” and if you pause it just right, Samantha Morton’s boobs are okay) and “Paycheck.” Whoa, wait, hold up. He wrote Paycheck?

And that should say it all. When somebody sits a room and says, “Let’s make that movie before we make “Next,” you have a problem. Stephen King, who has some weird pact with Hollywood that requires him to be behind at least three movies or eight-hour miniseries per year, knows not to release all of his work to the movies. And he was hit with a car, for Chrissakes. At some point, no matter how amazing a writer may have been, you hit the bottom of his barrel. Even Shakespeare companies know not to break out “Troilus and Cressida.” But apparently Hollywood will continue to scrape that barrel clean. Because, for the love of God, where are the writers?

Are they in TV? Nope. And not just because of the reality shows/. I mean, you need to have endured 16 hours of English poetry to come up with the idea behind Joe Millionaire, right? Reality shows need writers. But I think they’ve left us now. Because the shows are getting both out of control and so mundane, it’s scary. Kristen Cavallari (she of MTV, a Maxim magazine, a Stuff magazine and I think she was in an FHM) has a new reality show in development. Will she be starting a sitcom, a modeling agency, her time in college? No, she will be deciding whether or not to get LASIK. You read that right. They are developing an entire show around a decision on eye surgery. An event that may (GASP) make you go blind if done incorrectly. A writer didn’t come up with that. Ms. Cavallari is obviously trying to get free LASIK and thought this would be a great way to do it. How could you sell a show based on a procedure that maybe blinds, what, three people a year? More people lose their sight staring at the sun than getting LASIK. (One thing, though…that’s my idea and I’m claiming it here first, just in case….Vanessa Minillio in “Sunstroked”) Writers wouldn’t stand for that. But they’re not around.

Maybe they’re in music? Nope. They used to be everywhere in Hip Hop. Gone now, replaced by beats and repetition. And they’re nowhere else. Rockers are groaning and scraping their throats to re-enact the magic of Eddie Vedder. Only they’re not saying anything of importance (unless you feel moved by knowing that the “girl shouldn’t go cause it’d be bad.”) And you CANNOT rhyme a rhyme a word with itself. Nope. Not allowed. If you must, it had better be a line of such meaning, importance and gravitas that kids use as their yearbook quote for the next twenty years. And a writer could pop one of those out. Only they’re not around.

So where are they? I’ve been looking. They’re not in cabins in Montana. They’re not on “Find themselves” trips in Europe smoking hash and reading Sartre. And they’re not hanging out down by the shore, listening to Ween. I’ve checked. This is a call to all of them. Please come do what you were trained to do. Because the industries that need you are dying. Maybe you’re all bartenders like me. Please, America, the next time you order your Cosmo, ask if the bartender is a writer and if they answer in the affirmative, send them out immediately. Tell them to leave their job and give the bar world the kiss off and come back to the written word!

But tip them. And tip them well. Because that would be rude.

This is What I Bought?…This Is What I Bought?….This is What I….This Is What I…This is Me Vomiting April 7, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Music, Pop Culture Rants.
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No person on this oblongated spheroid on which we live has ever heard me utter the words, “I identify with hip-hop culture.” Yes, I drank Cristal once because the bar was out of PBR cans. Yes, I own several Notorious BIG albums, mostly purchased during my reckless “Fill out my CD collection days with that whole “10 cds for a Penny” thing.” My pants often fit way too well (Thanks 99 cent burritos!) And the only time I ever watched a TV in a moving vehicle was on a road trip with my family. And it was not Scarface, but rather the under appreciated “Lost City of Atlantis,” featuring Michael J Fox in his new role as voice over extraordinaire (The shaking adds gravitas to his voice.) Yet just because I don’t identify with the culture does not mean I don’t understand and see its’ merit as one of the most important music and art forms of the last century. It is a combination of self-expression, musical rebellion and street poetry and metaphor that rivals the folk rock movement for its ability to move an entire group of disaffected culture.

But though I may not identify with it, I do identify with pop culture and that major pop culture watershed moment where a medium just doesn’t care anymore. They’re phoning it in; they’ve sent the managers home and the interns are running the office. And while it is true that needs to happy every once in a while, the real problem lies when the under talented begin to outshine the talented. And even while people complain or say something, we still buy it. Heavy Metal had the hair bands.  Disco had Rick Dees. Rock and Roll had Leif Garrett. And now hip-hop, which despite all its’ detractors, still maintained an air of relevancy. Meaningful hip-hop, may I introduce you to your killer? His name is Mims.

The song “This is Why I’m Hot” is the first of what will now be many songs that will inevitably lead to the downfall of hip-hop. Why? Is it something he said? No, it’s because of precisely what he doesn’t say. Anything. Not a single meaningful word, phrase, catchy metaphor or even P. Diddy groan that lets you know the track has merit.

The song is a bravura track, which is a staple of hip-hop. I’m better than you and you’re worse than me at its simplest form. Yet, nobody ever came out and said that without some sort of metaphor. I mean, would you rather nod your head and quote “I get lots of women” or “I get more butt than ashtrays?” The song’s chorus is so simple that I am positive I wrote it in someone’s yearbook in fifth grade next to the heavy set girl with a penchant for Hello Kitty paraphernalia who wrote “2 cool + 2 be = 4gotten.” It goes, and please, please, please correct me if I’m wrong “This is why I’m hot….This is why you’re not.” And while there is more, my brain is too busy contemplating the depth and ferocity of such an amazingly powerful disrespect that I lost track of everything else.

Now lyrics alone do not a song make. You need a beat, a melody or a backing track (or in P. Diddy’s case, the entire “Best Guitar Licks of the 70’s” catalog). Sampling, once frowned upon, is now a completely acceptable way to provide music for your grandiose words. It gives people the chance to go, “Wait, where’s that one from? I know that.” But to sample a song that samples a song is well, scientifically impossible. It’s like the movie Multiplicity. A copy of a copy of a copy can boil down until you have a retarded Michael Keaton. And “This is Why I’m Hot” samples not a classic riff or contains a perfectly crafted beat (which if you believe the people at Coors Light is done in the back of airplanes with a single well placed spotlight on the Moog machine). It contains samples of Kanye West and Dr. Dre. So not only are the words nothing to write home about, the music is someone else’s who didn’t even own it to begin with.

But I’m not just here to complain about the song. I could take several albums I’ve e purchased from the back of sedans in front of Tower Records and write novels on their issued. But the reasons wouldn’t have merit. Because other than me and a few friends, nobody bought those albums. “This is Why I’m Hot” was the bygone Number one song in the COUNTRY! Meaning more than enough people thought, “Wow, that’s good…Let’s buy that and listen to that. And then tell our friends about it.” And it is because of this that I say Mims will be forever associated with the death of hip-hop as we know it.

For something to be successful and gain number one status, everybody needs to get into it. And if Mims’ song, despite its complete lack of lyrical prowess and musical merit, is as popular as it is, it only opens the door for others to follow in its trashy and underdeveloped footsteps. Hip-hop was for many the light at the end of the tunnel. If you lived a life of struggle and despair, your words could be your ticket out. But the only ones to achieve success were those who worked hard and displayed talent. This now may no longer be the case. And if anybody can string together a juvenile chant with somebody else’s music, soon there will be more. Oversaturation can kill a genre faster than anything. Just ask Disco Duck. He’s in the corner, parking cars.

Hip-hop is dead, claimed Nas. And he may have been right. Early, but right. Mims has made people believe they can succeed without talent and skill. And he has also made a whole group of people who may have no idea about hip-hop’s real purpose and it’s ideals.  With every spin of that record at a club, Hip Hop dies a little more each day. It means that soon it will become mass produced and no longer valid. We all may laugh at Vanilla Ice, but everybody had to have bought that album at least once. And he alone has made it impossible for a white hip hopper to be taken seriously again.

So while we can’t fix it, we must start preparing. Hey, Fitty, can you play the harmonica? Bluegrass is coming. It’s gonna be huge.

We Didn’t Know What We Had….Now It’s Gone February 23, 2007

Posted by doctorolove in Movies, Music, Pop Culture Rants.
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Written sometime in 1981, the  “Code of 80’s Teen, Action and Young Dramatic Films” was a little known edict that governed every film made throughout the decade. Drawn up by John Hughes, savage Steve Holland, representatives from the “Tootie” and “Jo Polnachek” camps and several trained chimpanzees from the Clyde Beatty/Cole Bros. Circus, it was over three hundred pages and contained missive upon missive. It single-handedly shaped that feeling and mood you just know about when every you watch an 80’s movie.

Such rules included the fact that all cheerleaders must be played by women who were no younger than 28 years old, at least one ethnic stereotype had to play a major role in the hero or heroine’s journey and no less than 8 films a year had to prominently feature Oh Yeah’s “Yello.” Bom bomp…chicka bomp bomp bomp.

Yet it was Article 4, section 8 that had the most profound effect on culture in general. It stated, in fancy sounding legal terms, “every film must include a scene scored to a heavy metal power ballad. The scene itself can occur at any point in the film, but must include at least one slow motion camera shot.” The Dokken and Motley Crue camps obviously had some pull back then to get such a rider tossed into the mix. The movie industry had to comply and because of that, power ballads were everywhere. Not because people liked them at first, but because, well, they had to be there.

Directors used them with aplomb. Sometimes the sentimental screeching underscores the beginning credits as we saw faded photographs of high school days gone by (This technique was known as ‘Letting You Know This Was a Serious one”) Sometimes it played beneath the final cado as the hero/heroine takes off in their parents car for a better life at college, wherever that may have been. It would zip along in the background when the hero/heroine came to grips with their friend’s betrayal. You could also play it at the climactic dance scene where women in powder blue Poofy sweaters and hair the size of Rhode Island sached slowly in the arms of their red cumberbunded objects of affection.

By pairing these “loud boys gone soft” songs, the country quickly identified with the power ballad as being something that induced feelings of sensitivity and loss. Boys liked them because it nearly doubled the number of women at the local W.A.S.P. concert. Women liked them because they were able to see the sensitive and caring side of the guitarist they were waiting on line to get molested by backstage. And the hair metal, a once British and dare I say effeminate, movement was given street cred. Soon, it was an unwritten law of their own that every album had to have a power ballad, whether it was being used at the local multiplex or not. The tunes were being blasted in Irocs everywhere. Some even made their way into graduation ceremonies. How cool was your school when every graduating senior marched down the aisle to White Lion? That’s right. Pretty f’n cool! The power ballad was everywhere.

But as the eighties drew to a close, two factors conspired to bring down the power ballad from atop its music pantheon. First, the movie code was not renewed when most people realized that teenagers all have the same problems and there were only so many times you could watch the same coming of age scenario before it got boring (Many also believed this was coupled with John Hughes breaking from the code and making Curly Sue…which broke Article 3, Section 2 “Cute kids are to be tertiary characters to provide one liners or sage advice and are IN NO WAY meant to be major characters. Unless they swear a lot or are adults trapped in children’s bodies.”) Second was the demise of hair metal itself. When studies showed that Poison and Bullet Boys were accountable for no less than 20% of the ozone’s depletion, the backlash came down faster than stock in Jessica Simpson/Nick Lachey “Together Forever” marriage aides. With nobody to sing the ballads, the style disappeared from our landscape.

Sure, people still try to knock out a power ballad now and then today, but they are co-opted by NBC promos and movie trailers. They are then so over played (NBC alone played their trailer for “The Black Donnelleys” 872 times last night) that the song is dismissed as that annoying tune you hum while waiting for your pesto Portobello wrap at Au Bon Pain. This has meant that scores of power balladeers are out of work. They are forced to struggle on the streets or even worse, star on VH1’s Celebreality.

So I implore you all today, to hire a power ballad singing hair metal band to follow you around as your personal soundtrack.

How great would it be to have you own personal power ballad at your beck and call at all times? You go to buy some fruit and ask the guy if he has anything fresher in the back. He ignores you and moves on to the next customer. Cue the ballad as you walk away forlorn. You take one look back to see if he stills wants to sell you some grapes, but he’s moved on. You hold your glance for a second, but still nothing. You turn back and continue your walk. He does look and smile, but you don’t see it. And he places a single bunch of grapes on the counter and somewhere, credits start. Now that’s a great scenario made even better by loud wailing guitars and subtle piano notes and the time ravaged voice of Bret Michaels.

Don’t like fruit? How about having the bass drop in and the violins start crescendoing as you look over pictures of the girl who got away in high school? Need to borrow money from your parents? Try telling them your predicament with Kix’ “Don’t Close Your Eyes” in the background. Guaranteed extra two or three grand there.

We lived in a much happier time two decades ago and there is no doubt the power ballad was a major reason why. So, let’s bring it back. It may just take a little patience, but it’ll be home sweet home real soon. I promise, kids, heaven isn’t too far away.