Sunday, 13 August 2017


40. “Touch my bumper, hey, let’s make a deal…”


While vaporwave, the simultaneous internet meme and musical genre, takes 1980s music and aesthetics to the nth degree, in an attempt to make a satirical statement about materialism and consumerist culture, it can never compare to the sheer Eighties-ness of some 1980s songs and music videos, blissfully unaware of the layers of irony, camp and kitsch that will be layered on it when viewed in decades to come.

Therefore, for a music video to be, in effect, the most Eighties thing to have ever Eighties-ed, it needs to be impervious to the aesthetics of vaporwave, defying the cut-and-paste techniques it employs. I am delighted to announce that the quintessential Eighties song made itself known by a suggestion on YouTube, under another song that runs close, Go West’s “We Close Our Eyes.”

Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car,” was released in January 1988, reaching number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 3 in the UK. The song capped four straight years of success in the US, the peak of which was arguably “When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Gets Going,” as used in the film “Romancing the Stone.” (“Get Outta My Dreams…” was used in “License to Drive,” a vehicle for Corey Haim and Corey Feldman).

The production of the song is pure 1980s synthesised cheese, the mainstream shift to electronic musical instruments from 1983 already becoming mired in synth chords and Roland drum machine-powered disco samples – almost the only non-electrical instrument here, apart from Ocean’s voice, is another 1980s staple, the saxophone break, played here by Vernon Jeffrey Smith.

The video, on the other hand, tries to fit the Eighties into every frame. A search online did not turn up the names of who, or which company, made the video, so it may be on a need-to-know basis, but the editing, including slow motion, and jump cuts during continuous motion, are things you don’t find in later music videos to the same extent. Ocean’s trip through the car wash is treated with the loud choice of colours that were initially found on furniture from the Memphis Group, which, along with the patterns and angles also found on them, found their way into general use. For seemingly no reason at all, Ocean’s car also alternates, while he is sat in it, from the Porsche 911 convertible seen in the rest of the video, to a Jeep, a Volvo740, and Renault 5, before returning to a Porsche. Relics of the Fifties also feature, such as old-style gas pumps, a drive-in theatre, and the clothing worn by many people in the video, all of which will be childhood nostalgia for thirtysomething people in the Eighties.

Then, there is the animation – “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” would be released five months after this video, and the use of a fish and duck here appear to serve no other point to say, yes, we made a video that mixes live action with animation, but with all the CGI to come, this was almost the last time this could be done as a pure novelty, not least when using all the crazy colours.

“Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” is a bewildering video and a very Eighties song, but it stands by itself – not much can be compared with it, which is an achievement in itself.

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