Friday, February 20, 2009

80s Female Vocals


The Bangles - "I'll Set You Free" (1988)
Perhaps it was the allure of Susanna Hoffs, but the Bangles are pretty much the definitive 80s band for me. I picked this over their big-time hits because there's a little more goin' on... the vocal harmonies, the squiggly guitar solo, and the "ad-libbing" Susanna does to close out the song.

The Go-Go's - "Our Lips Are Sealed" (1981)
Our Lips Are Sealed vs Head Over Heels. ¿Quien as mas macho? My favorite part of either song is 0:23 into HOH where Belinda Carlisle snarls the "I" in "I must be losin' it." Both have fantastic bass lines. HOH has the super-catchy keyboard intro (the solo is a tad lame though), but ultimately I find the melody too sugar-y, much like the Bangles' "Manic Monday." Then there are the bridges - OLAS has the bass + Jane Wiedlin while HOH has the bass + hand claps. I'm going with Jane. The Fun Boy Three cover is nice too.

Heart - "These Dreams" (1985)
I much prefer 80s Heart to classic rock Heart. I really like the several moments during the song where Ann Wilson sings the harmony vocal BEFORE Nancy Wilson comes in with the lead vocal (usually it's the other way around, yeah?).

Joan Jett - "Bad Reputation" (1980)
Compared to the other songs on this list, this one is a relatively recent discovery, as the theme song for the dearly-departed Freaks & Geeks. Joan Jett has an iconic voice, powerful and gritty yet sexy. I love the staccato drums and hope to Rock Band it someday.

Scandal - "The Warrior" (1984)
I have fond memories of this old school Charles Barkley highlight video. I wish I could pull off singing this at karaoke.

Honorable mentions:
The Pretenders - "Back On The Chain Gang"; reminds me of Larry Fishburne & co in Cadence. BTW, I don't know why I like that movie.
Blondie - "Tide Is High"


Scandal (Patty Smyth) - "Goodbye to You" (1982)
Suprisingly, I actually came across the song only recently. I think a common thread shared amongst all the songs in this group are all the catchy bass lines, except maybe "Only You'.

The Go-Go's - "Head over Heels" (1984)
Originally I went with my long time favorite "Vacation" but this is a 'spite' pick against Shao-tai since he thinks "Our Lips are Sealed" is more worthy than "Head over Heels". How can you beat the catchy piano intro and the irresistable bass break-down. However I can do without Belinda's 80s dancing in the video. She redeems herself in another video (see below).

Yazoo - "Only You" (1982)
I can't recall if this was part of a group of "slow songs" that were played at Chinese Youth Camp over the summers along with the slow version of Alphaville's "Forever Young", Chris De Burgh's "Lady in Red", etc. The only other tidbit I can share was a cover of this by the Flying Pickets made it as the end song of Wong Kar-Wai's "Fallen Angels" (US Version).

Belinda Carlisle - "Mad about You" (1986)
Props to Belinda for her continued success in her Solo career. She's pretty breathtaking in this video. I think I even owned a pair of those 80s shades that she wears.

The Pretenders - "Don't Get Me Wrong" (1986)
Don't worry, I will find a place to include "Back in the Chain Gang". Simply catchy: the jangly bass and Chrissie Hynde's playful vocals. Lily Allen's cover isn't too shabby either.

Honorable Mentions:
The Bangles - "Eternal Flame", "Manic Monday"
Blondie - "Tide is High"
Heart - "Alone" (I don't watch American Idol, I swear I don't, but I did see an impressive clip of Carrie Underwood singing this)
Fleetwood Mac - "Everywhere" (Check out Vampire Weekend's decent cover)
Pat Benatar - "We Belong"
Swing Out Sister - "Breakout"

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