Old School: Lost one hit wonders of the early 80’s

I was talking about lost hits of the past with a friend the other day, when I started to remember those songs of the early 80’s where the pop had not quite become flash and bubblegum and certain songs still retained some 70’s edge to them. As most of my articles here, I don’t profess to be an expert on this subject either. Just a fan. We’ll see if this becomes a recurring feature, or a one shot blog entry.

(Source: Capitol Records/Mercury Records)

(Source: Capitol Records/Mercury Records)

The Dutch band Golden Earring had a hit with “Twilight Zone” in 1982, which would be their only #1 hit in the US. The track, available in their album Cut, was written by the band’s guitarist, George Kooymans. It’s inspired on a book by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Identity.

In the music video, one of the first to feature a plot and a choreography, the lead singer Barry Hay is a spy pursued by three agents played by the other members of the band. The video was directed by Dick Maas. It got a fair amount of play on MTV. Yes, they used to play music videos.

The iconic album cover for Cut is also inspired by the same idea. The bullet cutting across a jack of diamonds card portraits the short life of a rogue agent.

Watch on YouTube

(Source: Atco Records, Warner Music Group)

(Source: Atco Records, Warner Music Group)

The song “Owner of a Lonely Heart” was originally written by guitarist Trevor Rabin back in 1980. It wasn’t until it was significantly altered with input from lead vocalist Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire and producer Trevor Horn that it became the classic hit song by English progressive rock band Yes. The song was released in November 5, 1983 as their lead single from their eleventh album, 90125.

In the video, directed by Storm Thorgerson, the band is rehearsing on a sound stage when they stop and each member turns into a different animal. Then we cut to a bird in flight and then to the typical regular joe as he tries to make it through a day while being shocked by pseudo-psychotic flashes of… ok, it’s the 80’s – it didn’t have to make a lot of sense. The video ends with the same guy in the crowd turning back as if to say, screw this, I’m going home.

Watch on YouTube

(Source: Motown, Universal Music Group)

(Source: Motown, Universal Music Group)

Somebody’s Watching Me” was released by Rockwell on 1984. It was his debut single with the Motown label. Rockwell is the son of Motown CEO Berry Gordy Jr.

The song is famous for having ex-Motown artist Michael Jackson singing the chorus with brother Jermaine Jackson doing backing vocals. The hit single peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984, reached the top of the Billboard R&B singles chart, and was number six on the UK Singles Chart.

The video itself is more creepy than paranoid. It portrays a haunted house – or actually more like a haunted condo. The imagery of floating heads, ravens, graveyards, and shower scenes possibly references the movie Psycho. The most disturbing image? Rockwell in the shower.

Because of the music video, the song is often classified as Halloween fare and found in compilations. More often than not, it’s usually cover versions with less than stellar performances.

Watch on YouTube

Sorry about the tongue and cheek commentary about the videos. I do love these tracks, otherwise I wouldn’t post about them. As a child of the 80’s I also feel I can poke a little fun at the clips. In the end, it’s the music and not the video – but then again, some of these videos were so iconic at the time that I feel obliged to include them.

That will do for now.

(Sources: Wikipedia)

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