Elementary Pop Princess

The 80s.  What better time to be a kid?? There were so many great things about the 80s.  GI Joe, Transformers, HeMan, SheRa, Gem (She’s truly outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous!), Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, the Barbie Dream House and Barbie Corvette… Just to name a few.

I could go on and on about toys, TV shows and movies, but the music…  The music is what made the 80s so totally tubular. In a past post I mentioned that middle school is where a lot of my own tastes in music were formed, and to an extent that was true, but when I sat down to make this list I realized that I began my love of music in my younger years.  So I broke my own rule (rules were made to be broken), and had to list more than 5 top songs, and a few albums snuck in, too.  Without further adieu, the Top 7 Songs/Albums from my Elementary School years:

7.  Wham – Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go)

– This song was just so darn catchy, wasn’t it?  My younger sister and I loved the whole Wham! album, but this song we had our own routine to.  We would lug our giant radio/tape player to the back porch and pretend it was a stage (the porch, not the radio – although the radio was certainly large enough) and refine our moves to this song.  Over, and over, and over again.  I still remember some of them.  And no, I won’t perform them.  Unless there is alcohol involved.  Then maybe… OK, probably.

6.  Joe Cocker – With a Little Help from my Friends

– At the time, I had no idea who Joe Cocker was, and didn’t care.  This was The Wonder Years song.  In my opinion one of the finest pieces of television, ever.  The first few notes of this song would come through the TV speakers and I would drop whatever I was doing and sit glued for 30 minutes.  Kevin Arnold was my dream boy.  He was so cute, and sweet, and way to good for that stupid, whiney Winny Cooper.  I mean, who the hell did she think she was, anyway?

5. The Soundtracks to Top Gun, Dirty Dancing, Footloose & Sixteen Candles

– These should be on everyone’s lists.  Because they are awesome.  Yes, they are great movies, but you can’t convince me that Maverick would have been as cool as he was if he didn’t go to the danger zone, that Jake Ryan would make girls swoon without the help of the Thompson Twins, and that Kevin Bacon and Baby would have been footloose and had the time of their lives without great music to dance to.

4. Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now

– Interesting that this is the second Beatles song to make the list, but not performed by the Beatles. Anyway, Tiffany was just plain cool.  She had big bangs, poofy hair, cool clothes and sang in malls across the country.  What girl didn’t want to be Tiffany?  And even if you weren’t a fan of her many remakes of classic songs, you had to admit that the girl could sing.

3. Paula Abdul – Straight Up

– Speaking of cool girls, back in the day Paula Abdul was pretty damn cool – remember the video with the cartoon cat?  (Was that the Cheetos cheetah?)  Paula Abdul was album-worthy on my list (because I played it non-stop on my Walkman – oh yeah, I got one from Santa), but this song was by far my favorite.  And if you disagree you can go a ba, ba, bye, bye, ba, ba, ba, ba, bye bye.

2. Madonna – Like a Prayer (The Album and the Song)

– From Madonna’s one-time choreographer to the queen M herself.  Remember those tape of the month clubs (the predecessor to CD of the month clubs, and what do they have now?) where you would get like 14 tapes for 12 dollars and then they would rake you over the coals for the remainder of your “contract”?  That’s how I got this album.  Talk about a fun album.  Express Yourself, Cherish (another remake), and my favorite, Like a Prayer.  Yet another song that I have some fly moves to…

1. Michael Jackson – Thriller (The Album and the Song)

– Once again I find myself with a cliché #1.  I was 5 years old when the Thriller video premiered on TV, and the memory of watching it is still vivid almost (but not quite) 30 years later. My parents bought the tape and I quickly claimed it as my own and repeatedly listened to the whole thing.  Every song was, and still is, great on that album. Every video associated was, and still is, great.  What else can I say – it’s stood the test of time.

That one was a fun trip down memory lane…  Next up will be High School – which I think I’m going to have to break all kinds of rules there (which will make up for the fact that I actually broke very few while in High School – well, compared to some I guess).  Those were some formidable years.

– Shan

Honorable Mentions:

-Wham – Careless Whispers, Debbie Gibson – Only in My Dreams, Saved by the Bell Theme Song, Billy Joel – We Didn’t Start the Fire & Uptown Girl, Kenny Rogers Christmas Album, Toni Basil – Mickey, Belinda Carlisle-Heaven is a Place on Earth

Middle School Addition/Edit:

New Kids on the Block – Please Don’t Go Girl

– How in the hell I missed this song for my Middle School list I have no idea.  I will attribute it to the sickness that was plaguing me for three weeks that is finally leaving my body (good riddance) and allowing my brain to return to full functioning capacity.  But I loved Joe McEntire.  Fred Savage was mere puppy love compared to the love I felt for Joe. Those blue eyes, that sweet smile, and that voice…  When he would get up there and sing his little heart out and hit those high notes in “Please Don’t Go Girl” – I would lose my shit.  His was the first poster I ever bought, and you know I had the button too.  Went awesome on my jean vest.  Yeah, don’t act like you didn’t love NKOTB, too – you probably had the giant button…

Smells Like Teen Spirit – or in my case, Pre-Teen Spirit

Middle school – the most awkward years in one’s life, I believe.  All of a sudden boys are interesting, girls start wearing makeup and bras, cliques start to form… you get braces which go awesome with your glasses.  It’s just torture.  Looking back, I think the most mortifying moments of my life occurred in middle school. But, it was at this time that I think I really started to discover the kinds of music I loved, rather than just listening to what my parents listened to.  And with that, the Top 5 songs of my middle school years.

5. Digital Underground – The Humpty Dance/Young MC – Bust a Move

-In middle school I went to Cotillion, this dance thing that you had to be invited to, so of course I felt all cool to be a part of it.  They brought a bunch of kids from all over the city together for a spring dance and a fall dance.  Both of these songs would get us dancing like fools.  And Young MC had the best lyric of all time, with my favorite color no less, “She’s dressed in yellow, she says hello, come sit next to me you fine fellow.”  I have that song stuck in my head now, I’m so totally going to have to create a Young MC station on my Pandora so I can jam out.

4. George Strait – Amarillo by Morning

 – I may be confusing this memory with Freshman year in High School, but I think it was 8th grade where me, my sister, my best friend and her best friend decided to sing this song in a karaoke booth at the rodeo.  We were horrible and flubbed the lyrics and to this day when I hear this song, and in particular the lyric “When the sun is high in that Texas sky” I always want to say “When the sky is high”…  It’s one of those things that are only funny to those it happened to.

3. Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby

 – Alright stop, collaborate and listen. Ice is back with a brand new invention.  Something, grabs a hold of me tightly, flow like a harpoon daily and nightly.  Will it ever stop, yo? I don’t know. Turn out the lights, and I’ll glow.  To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal, light up the stage and wax a chump like a candle.

I could go on, but I think you got the point.  Who cares if he totally stole the riff from Queen (another one of my all time faves) and David Bowie, he rocked it.  Word to your mother.

2. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Under the Bridge

 – I used to listen to this song all the time.  I taped it off the radio (yes, young ones, this was back in the day where you either had to go to the music store – a store where you went to buy music – or listen to the radio all day long and as soon as they started playing the song run to your boom box and record it) and then wore the tape out.  I’m sure my parents thought something was wrong with me.

1. Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

 – I realize that it is totally cliché to have this song on any Top 5 list.  But the reason that this song always pops up is because it is totally awesome.  There was this girl, I don’t even remember her name, but she was always wearing the doc martins with plaid skirt, rock band t-shirt and colored hair – I’m sure you can totally picture the type.  And I remember the day she walked into class with a t-shirt on that had a picture of a naked baby with his little weenus showing and my teacher freaked out about the baby penis and made her turn her shirt inside out.  And I remember thinking , “I gotta check that band out” and my mind was forever blown.   

There you have it – the songs from the most awkward/embarrassing/uncomfortable years of my life.  But of course I wouldn’t trade them for anything.  Well, maybe for a million dollars.  I’ll enjoy seeing what your favorite “awkward years” songs were!

-Shan

Honorable Mention:

Wilson Philips – Hold On, Michael W Smith – Friends are Friends Forever & Place in this World, Beach Boys – I Get Around, B52s – Love Shack, Kris Kross – Jump, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don’t Understand

For Those About to Rock…

Happy day after Thanksgiving!  Hopefully everyone is stuffed full of turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie goodness.  I got to eat everything I was craving yesterday… except tamales.  I really wanted some good, greasy tamales.  But, alas, there was nary a tamale to be found this Thanksgiving.  I wasn’t really expecting anyone to have them, I just woke up really craving them for some reason.  And a day later, I still really want one (or six, maybe seven, don’t judge).  Maybe since Christmas is right around the corner my internal clock was slightly off and started craving the typically served-around-Christmastime food a day early.  I don’t really know, the origins of why I wanted a tamale are a mystery to me. But let me just say, if there are no tamales on Christmas, someone is going to pay.

While a post in tribute to the goodness that is a tamale is starting to sound intriguing to me, I actually wanted to post about one of my other favorite things.  Music.  Isn’t it funny how you can hear a song, any song, and you are instantly transported to a time and place in your life?  I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic lately, and while I’m not really sure what’s driving it (much like the tamale craving), it gave me an idea that I’ve been toying with.  The idea? Create a soundtrack of my life.  I know, how very High Fidelity of me, right? But I thought I’d start off easy with the Top 5 songs of my college years.

A little background – I’m a third generation Aggie (WHOOP).  For anyone unsure of what an Aggie is or the school affiliated, google it, it will explain some of my choices…

5. David Grey – Babylon OR Nelly Furtado – Like a Bird

– I realize I’m technically cheating by picking two songs as my #5, but both of these songs were songs I listened to at a similar time/point in my life and both evoke similar feelings.  On the long drives between home and college, or Austin, where my boyfriend was going to school, I would sing these songs as loud as I could and search for meaning in them.  Consider these the emo music of my day, I guess…

4. Nine Inch Nails – The Only Time

– During the summer I would come home and “intern” at the company my dad worked for.  My sister had the same “interning” gig, so we would oftentimes go to lunch together.  I had permanently borrowed my boyfriend’s Pretty Hate Machine CD (good thing he later married me and got it back) and she and I would jam out in my truck during lunch.  We particularly enjoyed this song, mostly the first two lines.

3. Robert Earl Keen – The Road Goes on Forever (And the Party Never Ends)

– Oh, how can you not love Robert Earl Keen?  Any one of his songs will take me back to the many fair grounds and amphitheaters I saw him perform in during my college days – but this one has always been my favorite, and was always his last song. When this song came on you knew it was time to drink up because the concert was over, but just like the song said, the party wasn’t ending yet.  In fact, it was just getting started.

2. The Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Woman

– I think it would be safe to say that I hung out in a lot of honky tonks in college.  And all of them had this song on regular rotation.  It’s probably also safe to bet that the few still around, still do.  Ah, takes me back to the nights spent in smoky bars, drinking cheap beer and playing pool all night… and of course the more we drank, the better we played.

1. (The Greatest Band Ever) ACDC – Shook Me All Night Long

– So many great songs from this band (see title), but this song in particular just takes me back to college every time I hear it. Just the first few notes take me to a dance floor with my girlfriends, with EF doing her trademarked lasso move.  It’s also one of my most favorite songs ever. If I could dance to one song, just one song for the rest of my life, this song would be it.  It would also be my runway song.  You know, the song that if the opportunity to strut your stuff down the runway ever presented itself, you would want that song on the speakers?  Don’t act like you’ve never thought about it…

There you have it – the Top 5 songs of my college years, pretty eclectic bunch, but then, they all have me in common.

-Shan

Quick Honorable Mention Songs:

– Dixie Chicks – Fly, Jennifer Lopez – Waiting for Tonight, Tupac & Dr. Dre – California, Marylin Manson – The Beautiful People

What would your top songs be?  I’d love to hear ’em…