I have a connection at Razor and Tie, and he sends me all manner of amazing compilations from time to time. One of them, Teen Riot!, is pretty much wall-to-wall jamz, and listening to it taught me a lot of things about the bubblegum pop of my youth: Lisa Lisa (with or without Full Force) still rocks; so does “Two of Hearts” by Stacey Q; “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” is so minimalist that it barely qualifies as a song (it’s, like, a drum machine and a synth); and “Cool It Now” is great, but it clocks in at around six minutes, which is too long by about half. (Was there a single edit?) Anyway, the biggest surprise to me (besides Color Me Badd not being all that, er, bad) was Debbie Gibson’s “Only In My Dreams,” which really holds up after all these years.
Sure, it borrows heavily from Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” in tone and layering of high scritchy-scratchy guitar and programming, but it moves, driven by a real vocalist rolling real vocal takes in a real studio. It’s a trifle of a song, but it’s an accomplished trifle of a song, and it serves as a reminder of how not-accomplished so many of our recent pop trifles are.
Check this live clip for further proof:
Doing research for this, I found out Debbie–now Deborah, sorry–was in Playboy? What?! When did that happen? I didn’t look. I remember getting the Belinda Carlisle issue and being really excited, only to have that emotion followed immediately by a crushing wave of guilt. (I prefer my naked lady-ogling to be guilt-free.)