Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Paybacks are hell-ish Music
One of the more troubling oddities, to me, about New Zealand is the absolute obsession with 1980s music. Having left Britain for good in the 1980s, and with New Zealand reminding me very much of my home in Scotland, it's an unpleasant form of time travel for me. And let me stress, I'm not saying there's a good bit of 1980s music being played here. Not event quite a bit. No, I'm saying it is everywhere and all the time.
I won't go as far as to say I was running away from the silk shirts, mascara and earrings of the New Romantics when I left Scotland, but it sure was nice to see them in the rear view mirror. It's a sad old world of which Simon Le Bon is king and Boy George is actually paid money for what he did. Generations should sue.
Kajagoogoo were allowed to roam the planet with impunity, spouting their inanities to generations of brainwashed children with brilliance such as: "Too shy shy, Hush hush, eye to eye." Repeated a thousand times. Prince, A-Ha, Wham! (Don't forget the exclamation point, because those boys really had panache!), Soft Cell, Depeche Mode ... the list of boy toys sashaying around stages was endless.
I mean, how did their mothers let them out of the house looking like that?
Now I know lots of good stuff came out of the '80s. But it's the trauma you remember. How many times have you heard someone say, "I'd just had a lovely ice cream minutes before the savage attack"? No, it's the pain you remember.
You know the feeling you used to get the morning after a wild party? You just wanted to lie low for a couple of days - and certainly didn't want to talk about it. But there was always one person who wanted to go on and on about who did what, what you said to whom, and wasn't that just crazy? You just felt really uncomfortable and awkward.
Well, that's sort of the feeling I get walking into any store, any mall or listening to any radio station in New Zealand. I am not exaggerating. It's the only music being played publicly here. I'm constantly having enforced flashbacks. I can just be going into the mall to get some running shoes for the boys and there's Human League blaring away. Oh my God. Suddenly I'm at a party in Dundee or in Glasgow rolling out all my pre-planned dance moves, imitating the rubbery figures on the "Top of the Pops" music videos. Like a real super star.
It hurts, let me tell you. Badly.
I move on quickly, hoping to hell neither of my kids makes any reference to the music. How do you explain Spandau Ballet? Even when we went to the Pantomime here, the recurring theme had the main characters singing the chorus to "Vienna." Afterwards we had to look at videos of Ultravox. My sons were underwhelmed - and Ultravox weren't even that bad.
I asked one of my Kiwi friends what the deal was with this '80s obsession. He was younger than me. He said it was so retro it was cool all over again. Nice.
Just as I'd begun noticing this tidal wave of ancient pop, I saw that Debbie Harry was appearing in New Zealand. Who even knew Blondie was still alive? (OK, I will confess that I tried to get tickets for that show, but it was morbid interest. That's all. I promise.) And she was touring with The Pretenders. Double flashback drag-down.
Then, returning home for lunch last month, I heard - and I am not making this up - a half-hour show about the new Duran Duran album. On Radio Freaking New Zealand. It was being discussed as if it were not only art, but also a very important societal development that they'd been reborn.
A lot of people have asked me why I left Scotland when I did. Perhaps I have just given a small insight. And New Zealand is paying me back. You all are just lucky I haven't worked out how to add music to my blogs. 'Cos, believe me, I'd be sharing the love.