Did Any Of Rock’s Long-Standing Icons Not Make A Poor Aesthetic Choice During The ’80s?

noah | August 14, 2008 3:00 am

My post on James Brown’s “Living In America” reminded me of a sorta-sketched-out theory I have about the evolution, and devolution, of recent years’ musical landscape: There are few musical icons from the glory days of rock and pop who didn’t make at least one indescribably awful career choice during the 1980s. (Some of the artists haven’t even recovered yet.) Evidence for this theory after the jump, along with one striking exception who leads me to believe that the product of an idle mind forced to hear one too many Rod Stewart covers while waiting on line in Walgreens might actually be fact.


Aretha Franklin – Freeway Of Love

This is one of those songs that I think was designed for the pitched-up-a-notch world of mid-’80s top-40 radio. I have heard it in about three different keys; each time, Aretha’s strident belt was kicked further and further up into shrillland.

David Bowie & Mick Jagger – Dancing In The Street

Both men made many unwise choices during this decade, but this takes the cake. That “South Americaaaaaaa….” alone makes me shudder.

Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney – The Girl Is Mine

A song whose awfulness was cemented by the selection of will.i.am to fill in for Macca on this year’s 25th-anniversary Thriller package.

Stevie Wonder – Don’t Drive Drunk

The impulse to get completely shitfaced after hearing this song for purposes of obliterating it from your mind is, however, completely understandable.

Rod Stewart – Downtown Train

Let’s just say that picking just one Rod clip was a tough choice. I mean, do you remember this?

It’s like he’s just off-pitch enough to make this sound completely strange. And that big “whooooo!” at the end! Augh.


Tina Turner.

Even that song that name-drops Thunderdome isn’t awful, especially when you put it next to that Aretha track.