Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Retro Christmas Video of the Day - Do They Know It's Christmas

In 1984, a very selfless thing happened in London that profoundly changed how music is used for good. Bob Geldof recruited a bunch of his industry friends and along with Midge Ure wrote a song to be used to raise money for starving people of Africa. The song was recorded under the name Band-Aid and was made up of a collection of the biggest pop talent of that time.


Along with Bob and Midge, some other artists who lent their talents included, Paul Young, Duran Duran, U2, Phil Collins, Paul Weller, Heaven 17, Banarama, Culture Club, Kool and the Gang, Sting, Spandou Ballet, George Michael, Jodie Watley, some dudes from Big Country and a freak called Marilyn ripping off Boy George's shtick. Even David Bowie left a personal message on the extended remix of the song.



The video, as expected, got massive air play and did raise a lot of money for the cause that led to a multi-country Live-Aid concert and American artists to do their own song under the name U.S.A. for Africa and Canadia artists under the name Northern Lights. It also propelled Bob Geldof as the poster child for famine relief and also led to a Nobel prize and a Knighthood from the Queen (the real one - not the band).

Honestly, Bob deserves nothing but praise for his efforts but as expected, he also became a target. He couldn't have a meal in a restaurant without some reporter asking him how it felt to eat with so many people starving in the world. What the hell is wrong with people? Bob did more for charity in one day than most people do in a lifetime. Think about that as you go for seconds this Christmas.






Retro Christmas Video Bonus !! (sorry for the Yoko)








Monday, December 21, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - Max Headroom's Christmas Classic

Need a break from all the sappy Christmas music that is no doubt following you around everywhere you go these days as you prepare for the magic of Christmas while draining your savings account? Search no further - Max Headroom is back to bring you some retro joy.


Remember him? If your a retro fan then you are aware of the odd phenomenon from the mid 80s that spawned a bit of a craze. With technology becoming a bigger part of our lives and video technology pushing new boundaries, the timing was perfect for the emergence of a fictional artificial intelligence doing his thing on a video screen.

Max Headroom got his start as British TV series but became better known thanks to a video by Art of Noise that featured him performing for "Paranoimia". That led to a gig as a spokesman (spokesgraphic ? spokesimage ? spokesthingy ?) or talking head for New Coke that helped propel Max into the public conscienceness.

Due to his popularity, Chrysalis released a Christmas song featuring Max singing "Merry Christmas Santa Claus" with his trademark stutter and quirky delivery.

















Monday, December 14, 2009

Retro Ad of the Day - The Spirit of Christmas

One thing that has changed since the retro days of old are the television ads around Christmas time. Sure even back then, advertisers were trying their hardest to get you to spend your hard earned dollars on bigger and better gifts for little Timmy or that special someone but they weren't smacking you upside the head with the message or trying to make you feel like less of a human for not spending more for a bigger, better gift than you bought last year.


There was always a beautiful Christmas scene with snow and a happy family sharing a magical Christmas moment with tender looks and gentle hugs. Then while sipping on hot cocoa, mom would present a beautifully wrapped gift to little Cindy who opened it and beamed like the little cherub she was to the delight of the whole family.



Of course nowawdays they show little Cindy freaking out because she didn't get a 3g iPhone or a new car with a big bow waiting for her in the driveway. Meanwhile dad is sleeping on the couch because he thought a new blender would be the perfect gift to go with the Slap Chop he bought mom for her birthday. Was it really necessary to hurl it at him like that? How's he supposed to return it now?

With that in mind, let's take a look at a couple of Christmas ads that you'll remember and will warm you up better than any Snuggie ever could.





There are of course some exceptions.........






Friday, December 11, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone

In keeping with the whole Tiger's Wood theme (I mean Tiger Woods), let's go back and visit a Canadian tiger from back in the 80s.

Glass Tiger's breakout hit from 1986, "Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone" featured Bryan Adams doing some backup work many classic hallmarks of cheesy 80's videos. Big hair - check, pastels and shoulder pads - check, gimmicky sets - check, children pretending to play instruments - check, loose story line featuring other children - check?!?! Not sure what the connection with the kids would be but.... there you go.

The song went number one in Canada (naturally) and number 2 in the U.S. (surprisingly) and also charted pretty good in many other countries as well. The band originally called themselves Tokyo which confused some so they changed their name to Glass Tiger and succeeded in confusing everyone else.

This song is pretty much Elin Woods anthem at the moment.





For an unrelated Tiger experience, click the picture below to play the Tiger Woods Outrun flash game. Hope all those girls were worth it Tiger - somehow, I doubt it.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

New American Gothic - Tiger Style

Truly one of the most iconic American artistic images is American Gothic painted by Grant Wood from 1930. The pitch fork represented hard labour while the flowers over the right shoulder of the woman symbolised domesticity.

That image will soon be replaced by the image below. The iron symbolises one man's path to greatness, fame and fortune and the implement that also brought him the beating of his life. The beaten Tiger symbolizes the wrath of a woman scorned.
Q: What's the difference between a car and a golf ball?
A: Tiger Woods can drive a golf ball 400 yards.
(Sorry - couldn't resist!)




Wednesday, December 2, 2009

When Retro and Politics Collide - Obama's Economy

A while back in a previous post, we showed what happens when retro and politics collide - click here to see that post. Here's another installment featuring a likely response from the anointed one if he doesn't get the economy rolling again in the next little while.


Getting the economy back on track will be the only way to avoid magazine covers like the one below. We all pretty much have hit our own personal rock bottoms so let's hope the man knows what he's doing.


Hey - don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against him and certainly hope for the best for all of us but it's almost been a year now and I hope the wave of goodwill he rode in on doesn't get eroded with some of the decisions he's made so far and lack of action in some cases on other issues. I've got my fingers crossed for all of us.


On a lighter note - here's a Carlton Banks and Steve Erkel danceoff.





Monday, November 30, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - Land of Hunger

In keeping with the space invaders theme from the previous post, I thought I'd jog your retro memories with a vintage one hit wonder from 1984 by the Earons. Their hit "Land of Hunger" was an interesting fusion of the electronic Euro sound from the era similar to Kraftwerk and Visage mixed with a bit of a reggae beat and vocal style - or stylie.

The Earons describe themselves as an Astro Funk band (not too many bands in that category I assure you) from Earon Earth and get their inspiration from the cosmic mythology teachings of Sun Ra, an eccentric Jazz musician who claimed to be from Saturn and part of the Angel race that preached peace and love above all. I shit you not. You can't make this stuff up. He also happened to be one of the first musicians to extensively use electric keyboards and synthesizers in his music.

The Earons themselves all went by numerical stage names which included .28 (vocals), .33 (keyboards), .22 (guitar), .69 (bass) and .18 (drums) which if you add it all up comes to 1.7 which is pretty much the amount of time this song remained at number 1 on the Hot Dance chart in 1984.




Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Space Invaders Among Us

How much cooler would playing Space Invaders have been if the alien hordes looked more like the little guys below?

From the creative mind of designer Logan Walters comes a new take on an old foe. Now, how cool would it have been to wear the sweater below while playing Space Invaders back in the day? Probably not so much..........




Modern Mothers Know Best

In an earlier post, we saw how advertisers in the 50s dealt with the delicate subject of feminine hygiene. The fact that the product used for achieving the ultimate in feminine squeaky cleanliness was Lysol disinfectant, proved to be more disturbing than the ad itself.

In a similar ad, we now see how modern mothers of the 50s and 60s handled this delicate subject with their daughters.

Kind of rude I admit but that ad had nothing on the ad below that kind of illustrates what our 50s era modern mother was eluding to. Subtle like a brick to the side of the face. Yet another example of an ad designed and written by a man, sold by a man and bought by a man. Keep in mind - these are both real ads from back in the day.



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Retro Arcade Game of the Day - Super Mario Brothers

Before Wii Sports became the best selling console game in the history of video games, there was Super Mario Brothers that was released by Nintendo in 1985. This game was the sequel to the very popular Mario Bros. game and has sold over 40 million copies worldwide.


This game helped put Nintendo's gaming console on the map and was a major factor in the recovery of the video game industry after the crash of 1983. It's inspired many clones, sequels, cartoons and spin offs but Mario remains one of the most popular and recognizable video game characters ever created. Many non gamers also know who Mario is - not too many characters can make that claim. Italian plumbers everywhere burst with pride on that thought.

Check out the flash version below!



arcade

Retro Video of the Day - Disco Double Shot

Being Thursday and oh so close to Friday, I thought I'd treat you all to a double shot of some classic retro Disco that is a little left of the usual Disco standards you normally hear during a Disco radio show or one of those retro nights at a club.

The first is Michael Zager Band's "Let's All Chant" from 1978 that reached #1 on the Disco singles chart and also crossed over to the Soul singles chart and made it to #15 and #36 in the Top 100 chart. The classic chant refrain of "ooah ooah" became a popular staple in many clubs during the 90's and can still be heard today during many a retro set.


The second track is Kano's "I'm Ready" from 1979. It's one of those tracks you've heard samples of in other tunes but could never quite put your finger on it. The most recognizable track the melody was sampled for was Tag Team's "Whooomp! (There It Is)" from 1993.
The Kano classic was the brainchild of a couple of Italian producers that helped form the basis of the new Italo-Disco genre from that era that was basically a blending of Disco and Funk. It was also an instant Break-Dance classic that helped paved the way for what is now Hip-Hop. It peaked at #21 on the R&B charts in the U.S. Can you remember roller skating to this one? Enjoy!



Retro Video Bonus !!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Retro Video Mashup of the Day - Golden Age of Video

Every once in a while you come across a video that really makes you marvel at the dedication a person can have towards their craft. In this case, it's a clip titled "Golden Age of Video" which is made up of bits and pieces of classic movies and some retro gem TV shows.

I posted the version with sub-titles because it is amazing how the creator, Ricardo Autobahn managed to find and splice (is that even a proper term for editing anymore? Am I dating myself? Do I care?) together all these relevant bits of dialog so seamlessly that it proves he's either really good at editing or has unbelievable amounts of time on his hands. Either way, I look forward to more!Enjoy.




Sunday, November 15, 2009

Retro Ad of the Day - Coca Cola

I've been in a bit of a football kick these last few days probably a reaction to my five week winning streak in fantasy football but it got me thinking of some classic commercials featuring football. Obviously the Superbowls have given us some classics in recent years but in my retro world only one sticks out as a true feel good classic.

Coca Cola did an ad in 1979 featuring all-Pro Pittsburgh Steeler defensive back "Mean" Joe Greene which became an instant classic. They actually remade the commercial for Super Bowl XLIII featuring current Pittsburgh Steeler defensive back Troy Polomalu that had a bit of a twist from the original. Here they are together - see if you spot the subtle differences.






Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - Lips Like Sugar

There are some bands that the minute you hear their music takes you straight back to the 80s and yet their music still holds up well in this era. Echo and the Bunnymen are one of those bands. They formed in Liverpool in 1978 and the original lineup included three members and a drum machine until 1980 when they recruited a real drummer. They chose the name because they wanted something that sounded kind of stupid - mission accomplished.

They released a number of great albums all with decent critical acclaim and a few classic hits per disc but the biggest and most memorable tracks have been The Cutter, The Killing Moon, Silver, Seven Seas and Bring on the Dancing Horses which was used on the soundtrack for John Hughes' "Pretty in Pick" which is one killer soundtrack and a must for all retro lovers.




Retro Video Bonus !!



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Retro Pro Football Helmet Design Collection

Back when I played football in highschool, if you missed the first week of practice for whatever reason, you'd end up with equiptment leftovers that had about enough chance of protecting you as wrapping yourself in a layer of bubble wrap. Actually - I'd probably take my chances with the bubble wrap in retrospect. Football helmets shouldn't bend should they? Hard to believe that players would wear things like the picture below to try and protect their melons while swarming each other for a ball.
Even ancient galdiators that wiped their butts with leaves knew enough not to go into battle with a piece of leather strapped to their heads and opted for good old fashioned metal to get the job done.
Of course with progess and modern times comes modern materials which ushers in a whole new era of advancements in equipment technology that culminates into the ultimate helmet for the masses. I'd never dream of facing any given Sunday without my trusty helmet.
Click the zesty salsa above to go to a website that offers a histroical perspective on every pro football helmet design from the golden age through to modern times including NFL, CFL, XFL, World Football League and more ! Quite the impressive collection.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Retro Video of The Day - 99 Red Balloons

If there is one thing I could never be accused of is that I am not topical and relevant. I could also never be accused of not liking Cool Ranch Doritos but that has nothing to do with this so I digress.


By now you've all seen and heard of the knucklehead, fame whoring family that have parents that would do anything to get on TV. No - not John & Kate..... no, not Hulk and Hulkette Hogan...... no, not the Lohans....... no, not the "insert useless reality star here". I'm talking about the Heene family that apparantly build giant weather balloons in their spare time when they aren't busy swapping wives on national TV. One of these babies launched yesterday with speculation that one of their soon to be Darwinism victim kids was on board. The kid's real name is Falcon so it kind of was inevitable that at one point in his life he'd try to fly - kind of obvious in retrospect.


The balloon eventually came down without the kid on board so a search was launched to find a pint sized blood splatter somewhere on the Colorado landscape which also launched a media frenzy catapulting this kid and his family into the public domain and making them a household name (or joke) instantly.
Thankfully the kid was found sleeping in the attic of the garage safe and sound. Then they started asking them questions which is when the fun really started and eventually the kid slipped up on CNN and said he did it for the show. I smell either jail time for the family or a bidding frenzy for a new reality show. Knowing how messed up TV programming is lately, don't be surprised if this family ends up with their own cable channel.
We'll never know for sure I guess if this event was legit or all a big reality show production pulling one over on us all. One thing we can all certainly agree on though is underarm hair on women is really gross. Therefore, while viewing the video below for "99 Red Balloons" from Nena, turn your eyes away at the 1:07 mark or you may throw up a little in your mouth if your anything like me. Seriously ladies, don't bother sending emails trying to defend it - not even if you were holding a basket of puppies or snuggling with a baby panda would that be remotely excuseable.



Thursday, October 15, 2009

R.I.P. Captain Lou Albano (1933 - 2009)

Growing up in the 80s, you knew exactly who Captain Lou Albano was. You either knew him as a goofy wrestling manager from the WWF or as Cyndi Lauper's dad in her video for "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". Lou died Wednesday of natural causes in his home at the age of 76. Not something many modern wrestlers can claim.

Lou's wrestling career began in 1953 and only held a couple of tagteam titles in the early days under the mob riddled moniker of "The Scicilians" but he really made his mark and rose to prominance in the "sport" when he managed some well known wrestlers from the 80s including The Russian Bear - Ivan Kolaff, The British Bulldogs, Don Muraco, The Wild Samoans and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine to name a few.

He became forever etched in mainstream pop culture when he appeared in Cyndi Lauper's video as her rather disgruntled father. That ushered in the era of "Rock and Wrestling" which was responsible for making the WWF a household name and also responsible for some of the most hideous music and videos of the era............ it hurts me to even remember that. I'm going to need a moment.
Regardless of what you thought of him, his antics, his rubber band facial piercings (still trying to figure that one out), his wild outfits or his acting skills which included the hit TV show Super Mario Brothers, he did leave his mark in pop culture and is survived by his wife, 4 kids, and 14 grandchildren.






Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You Know You're a Retro Gamer If............

There are some that remain in denial regarding their addiction to retro video games. Even though today's modern games are visually more stunning, more realistic in game play, have award winning soundtracks and possess the ability to suck your brain right out of your melon, there is something about the simple classic games from the golden age of video games that keep you coming back for more.

There are some that prefer the older games over the new ones due to their simplicity and the fact it takes them back and reminds them of simpler times when you fed quarters into a machine in a dingy, smokey arcade rather than save your quarters to finally drop $300 to $500 on gaming consoles. Who are these people? How can you spot them? Look for the following clues. In other words, you might be a retro arcade game junkie if you own..........

Space Invader Ice Cube Trays
No regular ice cubes will do to keep your drinks cool when you're blasting away aliens coming at you or chasing down blue ghosts.



PlayStation 2 Controller Soap Bars
After working up a sweat playing your favorite games, what better way to wipe the retro grime off your body than with soap shaped like PS2 game pads and consoles? Comes in all your favorite colors.


Pac Man Oven Mitts
The cool thing about these oven mitts is that you can actually make the "Num num num num" cookie monster sound while using them which is waaaaay easier than faking the actual sound that Pac Man made while chasing the crack dots around the maze.

Space Invader Cuff Links
Nothing says impeccable style and uber geek at the same time like a set of cuff links shaped like the monster meanies from Space Invaders.


Pac Man Ghost iPod Speaker
Bored of the plain vanilla look of Apple iPod speaker docking stations? Show your retro sense of adventure with a speaker shaped like a ghost meanie from Pac Man. Available in standard Pac Man meanie colors including the cool blue.

Let's face it - even though these things are kind of geeky, your girlfriend will think it's cute right up until she moves in with you and then they will join your beat up comfy couch at the curb on the very next garbage day. Regardless though, you want them..........you really want them.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Retro Ad of the Day - Apple Macintosh

No matter what side of the fence you're on in the PC /Apple battle, one thing you have to admit is that both Apple and Microsoft have always been great marketing rivals with campaigns being fought in battles of epic proportions matched only by the cola wars between Coke and Pepsi and possibly Spud McKenzie for Budweiser and Alex from Strohs......but I digress.

Back in 1984 when Apple launched their new Macintosh during the Superbowl, they hit the ground running with a commercial that took advantage of the whole George Orwell "1984" Big Brother controls you, you need to break free shtick along with a dose of healthy female athlete running without a sports bra angle. Well played Apple........ well played.

The commercial served notice that they would be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come and the battle still wages on. Frankly I could care less and still do the PC thing and respect those that choose the Apple way of life. Wish I could say the same about Apple users though - lighten up already. I'm not ready to be converted so move on already. Life's too short - don't worry, be happy. Can't we all just get along?




Bonus Video !! Wonder if Bill Gates wishes he could take these words back!



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Darth Vader - His Evil Has No Limits

There's evil and then there is unspeakable evil. This would spell serious couch time for Luke if Star Wars took this twisted turn on an alternate ending.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - So Long

There are many songs (and groups for that matter) from the 80s that may have flew under the radar in North America while enjoying decent success in other countries. Fischer-Z was one of those groups and "So Long" was one of those songs.


Fischer-Z was formed in 1979 in Britain and released nine albums until their split in 2002. The founder and lead singer, John Watts went on to do some solo stuff but never reached the same level of success he did with Fischer-Z.


Though they had some hits in the U.K., Portugal, Belgium and Germany, their biggest success was in Australia with a couple of top 20 hits including the song "So Long". It was this success that has confused some to thinking they were actually an Australian band.


The video below for "So Long" featured some classic 80s video standards like bad lip syncing, misty atmospheric vibe, a cheap Humphrey Bogart look-a-like, and cheesy interpretation of the story line. Having said that - that's what made the videos from the 80s so memorable.


One other interesting note - John Watts lyrics were heavily influenced from his experiences as a mental health care worker. Kind of explains the pain you feel in the lyrics when you listen to this one. Seriously under-rated track from way back.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Way They Was (Part 2)

Continuing where we left off from Part 1, lets continue our look at how some celebrities looked when they were younger. In some cases you can see they've aged gracefully, others - not so much. You can also tell which have a team of plastic surgeons on their payrolls. I'll leave it up to you to determine which group each star falls into.

As I mentioned in my original post, if you invest thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery, work out all day and have an army of personal trainers and private chefs cooking succulent, low carb meals - you better be tight abbed, ripped with buns of steel, a perfect complexion, perky breasts that can repel shrapnel and flowing, shiny hair that can cause rainbows to spontaneously appear when you walk into a room.............. just sayin'.
Nicole Kidman
What goes better with pasty white skin than red curly hair? How about a tan? She's obviously very pretty but get out in the sun once in a while - it won't kill you. It's not like it gives you cancer..........oh wait - nevermind.
Sara Jessica Parker
Ok seriously, has this girl ever looked good? How does she snag all the beauty product endorsements? How does she continue to get roles? How does she not get hunted down by zombie fearing citizens? I'm not saying I'm God's gift to the opposite sex, but I'm pretty damn sure if I put on a dress and shaved my head I'd still be getting hit on more than her. Not that I'd really want to test that theory, but you get the point.
Kiefer Sutherland
One thing is certain, Kiefer knew how to rock the 70s porno stache back in the day. Jack Bauer would probably have killed porno stached Kiefer if he ever ran into him since he looks kind of suspicious and creepy, but then again that's more than enough for Jack to go all Rambo on you.

Kylie Minogue
Kylie certainly looks a lot different than she did in 1987. Looking at her, it seems pretty obvious where Pete Burns from Dead or Alive gets his inspiration from when he sees his plastic surgeon. Too bad his doctor sucks in a fierce way.
George Michael
Before Georgie Boy was getting caught in men's rooms doing naughty things with undercover cops, George Michael made all the ladies scream as one half of Wham! Safe to say that George, like his music, is looking (and sounding) better with age.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Retro Vibe Ad of the Day - Cadbury Dairy Milk

There is no no doubt that many of the creative people behind many of the ads we see and hear on TV and radio today are Retro kids from the 70s and 80s. You don't have to go too far for proof.

Today's example, the Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate TV ad featuring the electro funk classic, "Don't Stop The Rock" from Freestyle. I think it's a good ad since it resonates with me because of the music and it's goofy enough that you'll be talking about it but it took me a few views to finally remember what product the ad was actually about. Not so good as far as advertising goes.

Still - how many of you forgot about this song until you saw it on the Cadbury ad? Retro lives!!



Retro Video of the Day - Tenderness


One of the good things that came out of the break up of Ska wonderkids "The English Beat" in 1983 was the formation of "General Public" by two of the former members. Although originally made up of former members of The Clash, The Specials and Dexy's Midnight Runners, in the end it was only Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger that endured.

Their biggest hit was Tenderness off their first album from 1984, "All The Rage". It managed to reach #11 in Canada and #27 in the U.S. Although they managed a few more hits over the years, including songs on some well known 80s movies like Weird Science and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, they never matched the same success. Dave still tours as the English Beat and plays General Public tracks but ol' Roger called it quits for good.









Useless Retro Link of the Day - Instant Bueller

Have you ever had one of those moments while working in your cubicle or studying for an upcoming test when a friend or co-worker asks you something so stupid that all you can do is simply stare almost stupdified that they even thought of asking you such a messed up question? Ever wished there was a perfect sound bite for just such a moment?


Well - wish no more. Click the pic below of the clueless teacher (played by the ever awesome Ben Stein) for the link to the perfect soundtrack to this stunned moment.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

R.I.P. Patrick Swayze (1952-2009)


I've only been writing this blog a couple of months and I can't believe how my memorial posts I've had to write for some rather iconic 80s type figures. The latest to the list is Patrick Swayze who sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer the other day. Hell of a way to go. You have to admire the fact that he kept right on working right to the end and had a current show on A&E that was doing fairly well.

Whether you liked him or not, his body of work was pretty large and he was an accomplished dancer and released some music as well. He's mainly known by many for his roles in Ghost and Dirty Dancing (which let's face it, wasn't dirty at all in retrospect.......I've seen worse during Sunday mass, but I digress) along with some of his earlier work on The Outsiders, Red Dawn and Young Blood which helped earned him a membership in good standing of the Brat Pack back in the 80s.

As a tribute, here are some examples of Patrick doing what he does which you may not have seen before.










Friday, September 11, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - Just an Illusion

In keeping with the whole Beatles buzz this week due to the release of their remastered CDs and video game, today's video is from a group whose name was inspired by John Lennon's Imagine. Imagination was a British trio from the early 80s that delivered some pretty cool R&B mostly while dressed in really retro gladiator style outfits. I'm not kidding.

Their songs charted in 28 countries and they produced three platinum records, nine gold and a dozen silver ones all in the span of three years. Not bad considering many people in North America never even heard of them. "Just an Illusion" was their highest ranked U.S. single at 27 even though it reached #2 in a few countries including the U.K.






Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Retro Ad of the Day - Diet Pepsi

Some of the most innovative ads of the 80s and 90s were a result of the cola wars that waged between industry giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi. This bitter rivalry started in the late 1800's (talk about retro!) and continues to this very day.

Soft drink origins date back when herbal cola syrup mixtures were sold in pharmacies as cure-alls and brain tonics. Colas back then actually contained coca extract from the kola nut that is better known today as cocaine. Needless to say people liked to get their cola fix but found the stuff too hard to drink straight so pharmacists began mixing it with water at first and eventually soda water which many people found be a very pleasant tasting beverage. Fast forward 100 years, the cocaine is no longer an ingredient, but we're still sucking the stuff back like it actually does a body good. Hardly.

So here's a small tribute to some of the Pepsi ads from back in the day. Why Pepsi instead of Coke? It gave me an excuse to post an ad with a young Cindy Crawford.........that's why.









Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Retro Labour Day

When you think of labour day, you assume it was the brainchild of some tree huggin' Canadian or similar minded forward thinking country but in fact the Labour movement was born in the good ol' U.S.A. The idea of unions and worker's rights was bred in the land known (and often hated by some ass backward countries) for it's capitalists.

Samuel Gompers, an American, is the one to thank for the eight hour work days and worker's compensation. He organized the American Federation of Labour and was their president for many years and helped make the American work force one of the highest paid in the world.


Ironically, another American named Sam, Sam Walton created an outlet for merchandise that is mainly made in non-unionized countries with low standards of living and deplorable work conditions with no benefits, which has led to some North American suppliers close their factories here and ship jobs off-shore. Go figure.


Something to think about as you chow down on chicken and tater salad at a Labour Day picnic. In honor of labour day, here's a few videos with an obvious theme that relates to the nature of this much welcomed holiday.














Thursday, September 3, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - Sweet Dreams / Pop Muzik

In keeping with the MTV theme from the posting the other day here's two examples of videos that kind of show how quick some artists realized what a powerful media videos could be in giving their music a whole new dimension and got pretty serious about producing a quality video to go along with the song.

Eurythmics came on the scene with "Sweet Dreams" in the early 80s and as if Annie Lennox's incredible voice wasn't enough, you also got the cool visual imagery to accent the song and really solidify the mood and feeling it produced whenever you heard it afterwards. The images of the video made you think how it all connected to the song and it stayed with you. (Having said that - what's with the cow in the video?)





By contrast, Pop Music by "M" (pronouned "Ehmm" - yeah, I'm kidding) was so hokey that it almost seems like a parody produced in someone's basement. Everything from the cheap set to the seizure like dance routines make this video so bad it's actually good. This song was a hit but I hope the dude didn't spend all the money in one place - he sure as heck didn't spend it on the video!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Want My MTV - To Start Playing Music Videos Again

There was a time when having your song played on the radio in a regular rotation was the most critical aspect of music promotion. Getting on the air in major markets was paramount to success. It was all about the quality of the music and vocals, there was substance, there was talent, you didn't have to be pretty or ruggedly handsome to have a hit record. Then it all went hell. Well, not at first.




In 1981, Music Television went on the air in the U.S. and single handedly changed the way music was marketed and promoted virtually overnight. MTV was the brainchild of Warner Communications and American Express, who funded Warners' cable business but wanted a commercial outlet to reach the teen and young adult markets who traditionally have high disposable income.

When Warner and Amex gave the go ahead for the channel, the timing couldn't have been worse. In the late 70s, record companies were hurting and looking to cut costs and one of the first things on the chopping block were music videos which were being produced for late night TV and specialty shows and were mainly filler on local channels.

At the time, videos were never really considered a necessity and some of the more avant garde artists like David Bowie and Talking Heads were using them as an artistic extension of their music but most bands were simply churning out performance videos either as concert footage or hokey and staged performances that they lip synched badly too. The consensus amongst the record companies was that videos had a negligible impact on sales. At the time they were probably right.

The race to get the channel on the air in 1981 was on before record execs completed their 1982 operating budgets. Before deciding on Music Television, MTV was almost dubbed TV-1 and TV-M for Television Music which really didn't roll of the tongue to well so it was switched around and the young channel found it's name. Now that they had a name, they went out and tried to get their hands on as many videos as they could. So how many videos did they have in their library on launch day? A whopping 250.

Original MTV VeeJays


Some record companies like MCA and Polygram flatly refused to be a part of the channel and didn't provide any videos at all. The channel struggled to convince the companies that videos would help promote the artists and boost their record sales. Because of the fact that many record companies were slow to get on board, the video cupboard was kind of bare and heavily stacked towards certain artists. For example, thirty of the 250 videos on hand were Rod Stewart videos. Regardless, MTV figured once they showed some minor signs of success, the record companies would come around. So on August 1, 1981 MTV launched with its first video, the prophetic (yes, I'm talking about you Christopher Cross) "Video Killed The Radio Star" by the Buggles.

It didn't really catch on with the cable companies at first. Their now infamous, "I want my MTV!" campaign changed all that and had thousands of people literally screaming the phrase to local video companies convincing them to add the new channel to their roster and it quickly swept across the U.S. and was making money by 1984. The influence it had on pop-culture was undeniable.

Christopher Cross- great face for radio

It was no longer good enough to have a good song as a musician, you had to have a look and a photogenic (videogenic? is that even a word?) face to make it. Network television took notice and tried to compete with shows like ABC Rocks and NBC's Friday Night Videos but MTV was 24/7 music videos and nobody was doing that.

MTV had its share of controversy as well. For one thing, they refused to play " Billie Jean" or anything else by Michael Jackson saying that "R & B" wasn't what MTV was all about similar to why Country music wasn't being played on MTV either. Ironically, Canada launched its music channel, Much Music, with "Billie Jean" as the first video they played. Upon closer inspection of the playing rotation for February 1983, MTV only had two videos being played that featured black artists: Tina Turner and the dude from The English Beat. MTV was given the ultimatum of either play "Billie Jean" or no more videos from CBS and their associated record labels. Obviously they caved and "Billie Jean" not only became iconic, but it changed the way most videos would be made going forward. It raised the bar to what a video can be - a visual representation of the song, not just a lip-synced, pseudo concert performance.

The second video aired on MTV

MTV did come around though. Four years later they launched "Yo! MTV Raps" and helped turn rap and hip-hop into the mainstream genre that it is today. Some of the other classic programming they provided over the years include their "Unplugged" acoustic series, Beavis and Butthead, Total Request Live (TRL), along with their various award shows. Along the way though they did lose sight of their roots and moved away from playing music videos to providing reality programming like Punk'd, The Real O.C., A Shot At Love, The Hills, The Ashley Simpson Show (Editor's note: sweet baby Jesus, make it stop), The Surreal Life, The Osbournes, Pimp My Ride and a host of others that are numbing our children's brains and providing zero cultural significance and making us all a wee bit shallower and dumb..........but I digress.

It's interesting to wonder how many artists from the 80s and 90s would have even seen the light of day in North America if it wasn't for the musical vehicle that was MTV.






Friday, August 28, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - I Just Can't Get Enough

What better way to start a Friday than with a Retro classic from the early 80s from an influencial band that is still around today? Depeche Mode's "I Just Can't Get Enough" from their album Speak and Spell was the first single they released in the U.S. though they released two others songs before this in the U.K.

The song reached number 8 in the Uk Singles chart and number 26 on the U.S. Hot Dance Music / Club Play charts. This was the final song written by Vince Clark before he left to team up with Alison Moyet to form Yazoo (later changed to Yaz) and is the only Depeche Mode video to feature Vince Clark. It's also the last video anywhere with Vince Clarke featuring a full head of hair with no shaved areas. I tend to nit pic with my trivia at times.






Retro Bonus Video - It's a rare one!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Retro Celebrity Disses and Put Downs

When you watch the chemistry between a couple of actors at the top of their game on the big screen you tend to think to yourself what a wonderful life they must have and how great it must be to be working opposite other famous actors. You figure they can't possibly have the same problems you do in your job like dealing with the obnoxious slob in the cubicle next to yours or the whiny girl in accounting that always seems to be at your desk just as you're about to head out to lunch.

Well guess again. Although many actors have great experiences while filming with their co-stars, others have less than happy thoughts after the fact and aren't afraid to express themselves. Here are a few for your consideration.
Susan Sarandon once said of Mel Gibson, "He's somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun. He's beautiful, but only on the outside." Ouch. I'm pretty sure Mel mentioned something about her outer beauty as well and how he wanted to go all Atilla on her but I'm pretty sure it's not the same thing.
Kris Kristofferson commented on his "A Star Is Born" co-star Barbara Streisand saying, "Working with Barbara Streisand is pretty stressful. It's like sitting down to a picnic in the middle of a freeway." Well, that paints a pretty picture don't it? He's not alone though. Tennis star Pete Sampras used to date Babs and he once noted, "She's what I call a pitching wedge. She looks good from about 150 yards away." I don't think in all recorded history has a woman ever been compared to a golf club.
Ava Gardener seemed a little embittered towards her ex-husband Frank Sinatra when he married actress Mia Farrow. Ava said, "I always knew he'd end up in bed with a boy." Meeeeow. Having said that, looking at the picture kind of makes it hard to dispute. Well played Ava......well played.
Frank Sinatra was one of the hottest crooners in music for the longest time until a good ol' boy from Memphis took the country by storm. Elvis Presley - nuff said. What did ol' blue eyes think of Elvis's style of music? He said, "His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid-smelling aphrodisiac." Seriously Frank, how do you really feel? Always remember, Frank may have been the Chairman of the board, but Elvis was the King. Thank ya vury muuch.
I would have asked what's up with Melanie Griffith's sunglasses but they really are the least of her problems at the moment. Here's what the Antonio Banderas loving actress said about working with James Wood, "It is like being pregnant. At first you are happy. Then you think it was a mistake. And in the end you want it to be over." Geez - where is the love? Who knows, maybe James is difficult to work with, but having said that, it's also true that James Woods is actually prettier than Melanie.