Screw You, I Like It: 1980'S Edition

No form of entertainment is more personal than your taste in music.

It’s as unique as a fingerprint and tells an interested observer more about you than the much-vaunted Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (I’m an INTJ, BTW and FYI).

But what about those most private parts of your musical taste? Those bands, those tunes that you listen to in secret, too embarrassed to discuss? Who would not be humiliated if one’s secret love of ABBA were to be made public, let alone public on the internet? Well, it’s time to be ashamed no more. Inspired by Michael’s hashtag #ScrewYouILikeIt, discussed on Podcast 47, I’m going to be the first on The Loftus Party to go full-frontal on my appreciation for bands that just don’t get the love they should any longer. You may mock, you may taunt, you may snigger, but screw you, I like it.

Asia: My all-time favorite #ScrewYouILikeIt band is Asia, full-stop. (Rest in peace, John Wetton.) Oh, the lyrics of Asia’s most popular songs were ludicrous when not cliché, but when it comes to early 80’s progressive rock with an operatic style that blew everything else out of the water, it never got any better than Asia. The way each song is put together, how the synth screams and electric guitar wails just so is pure magic. The bridges aren’t bits you endure, waiting for the next stanza of lyrics to come on, but stretches of musical artistry to be appreciated. Top songs include:

  • Sole Survivor: The natural choice. A song that combines themes of defiance, betrayal, and triumph in one awesome package.
  • Only Time Will Tell: How many songs go that…cosmic into a breakup? “The tears that used to tide me over,” indeed.
  • Don’t Cry: Dumb lyrics, great feeling.

The Hooters: I hesitate to admit this, but in the interest of going the full musical monty, I must include The Hooters in my #ScrewYouILikeIt list. My only defense is that I grew up in Philadelphia, and the Hooters were the hometown band that made good. Who had ever heard of a melodica before? My spellchecker doesn’t even acknowledge it as a word today, for cat’s sake. And yet The Hooters still rock. They run the gamut of poppy, lighthearted fare with the popular And We Danced to the darker (though with an undercurrent of dry humor) Don’t Take My Car Out Tonight. Their best three songs are:

  • All You Zombies: The Biblical references, the driving beat, the creepy video: what more do you need?
  • Blood From a Stone: A song about being overtaxed. I mean, come on: it’s evergreen.
  • Birdman: In all the pop rock metaphors for love, this one stands out.

Marillion: This last #ScrewYouILikeIt band is a bit more obscure, but if The Young Ones were making fun of them back in 1982, they weren’t complete unknowns. Obviously, any discussion of Marillion has to focus on either the Fish era of Marillion, when frontman/vocalist Derek Dick helmed the band, and the post-Fish era, with Steve Hogarth. Here, I’m talking about the Fish era: Marillion’s true heyday. It’s music to angst to, mingling punk, progressive, and pop into a tight, often angry mélange. Rather than pick the best songs, however, I will instead point to their best work: Clutching at Straws. An album-long meditation on alcoholism in all of its squalor, excuses, and weaknesses, the lyrics are nothing less than brilliant. It tears away the poetic fantasy of the alcoholic artist using booze to gain inspiration, and delves deep into substance abuse’s darkest, most Amy Winehouse-esque heart. The songs Warm Wet Circles, White Russian, and The Last Straw are multi-layered, communicating human agony through multiple layers of wordplay. We all know at least one substance abuser: if you want to know what’s really inside that person, Clutching at Straws will take you at least part of the way there.

I know it’s a bit precious of the man who told you to put away your Star Wars dolls to go on about 80’s music, but in my defense I have three things to say: music’s different from bloated sci-fi movie franchises about guys with silly names, consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, and #ScrewYouILikeIt.