Battle of the Beach Music: 1984 vs. 2014

Categories: Joyful Noise

IMDb photo
Yes, the beach looked like this in 1984
I've never been a fan of the beach. My family is about it, though, so sometime this summer I'll be sitting someplace that smells worse than a Red Lobster Dumpster introducing new grains of sand to my ass crack.

My parents were from Galveston, but they hated the beach. We never went as kids. So I never cultivated a youthful, healthy perspective by building sandcastles or finding seashells like some of you.

By the time I got there, I was old enough to drink beer and buy my own music; those were the things that made a beach day more bearable for me. In honor of my first true beach outing 30 years ago, and to steel myself for an imminent trip, I thought I'd see if I'll fare at least as well music-wise this summer as I did in 1984.

Van Halen, "Panama" vs. Paramore, "Ain't It Fun"
In the early '80s, you listened to rock and roll at the beach. Rap was a thing, but it wasn't ubiquitous yet. Dolly and Willie were the biggest country stars in the world, but not at the beach. Although you were surrounded by them, if you listened to A Flock of Seagulls at the beach, you were begging to have sand kicked in your face.

Just as they do today, kids were listening to The Doors and Zep out there. As for releases from 1984 -- the year and the album -- Van Halen's "Panama" was as big as the prom queen's hairdo.

The highest-charted song passing for rock on Billboard today is "Ain't It Fun." I once thought Hayley Williams could be the next Pat Benatar. She's excellent live and has a strong voice, but somewhere along the way she became another pop singer.

Advantage: 1984

Prince, "When Doves Cry" vs. DJ Snake & Lil Jon, "Turn Down for What"
"When Doves Cry" was my jam when I still had a pube 'stache and weighed less than 180 pounds. That song was everywhere the summer of '84, but that didn't mean it was perfect for the beach, where people go to be carefree. How could you put your blues behind you with Prince reminding you every half-hour of his own dysfunctional relationships?

I plan on hearing "Turn Down for What" at least hourly until Labor Day. At least it sounds like a beach party. And it has a berserk music video that makes "Doves"'s video look like a trip to the funeral planner to discuss long-term arrangements.

Advantage: 2014

Laid Back, "White Horse" vs. Calvin Harris, "Summer"

I like the fact that Harris doubles as producer and vocalist on "Summer," which should be a staple at parties -- beachside or otherwise -- for the next couple of months. But "White Horse" was more than a summertime party song. It still evokes an era. As everyone knows, we '80s young adults were stoking St. Elmo's Fire by snorting coke off the smalls of each others' backs. That's when we weren't stabbing at them in our attempts to become the next Gordon Gekko. All the nihilistic decadence you recall or learned about in Less Than Zero wrapped in a four-minute head-nodder.

Advantage: 1984

Ray Parker Jr. "Ghostbusters" vs. Pharrell Williams, "Happy"
It had been done before ("Alfie" from Alfie; "Mrs. Robinson" from The Graduate) but soundtrack music became hugely popular in the 1980s. Thanks to MTV, producers could pair songs with visuals from films and air them repeatedly. The perfect commercial.

Sadly, this sometimes resulted in songs like "Ghostbusters." There's a special kind of hatred in my dark heart for this inane song, one that hasn't waned over five American presidencies, the cancellations of 30 years' worth of TV shows or anything else we Americans use to mark time. The song's insipid "I ain't afraid of no ghosts!" was the worst thing to hear at the beach besides "Shark!" I know, you're sick of "Happy." But be happy it's not as dumb as "Ghostbusters."

Advantage: 2014

Story continues on the next page.

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Pity you! Here's the music from 1964--still the best, ever:

The Animals - House Of The Rising Sun - 08-1964 - MGM
The Beach Boys - Fun, Fun, Fun - 03-64 - Capitol
The Beach Boys - I Get Around - 06-64 - Capitol
The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night - 07-64 - Capitol
The Beatles - And I Love Her - 09-64 - Capitol
The Beatles - Can't Buy Me Love - 04-64 - Capitol
The Beatles - I Want To Hold Your Hand - 01-64 - Capitol
The Beatles - Love Me Do - 05-64 - Tollie
The Beatles - She Loves You - 02-64 - Swan
The Beatles - Twist And Shout - 03-64 - Tollie
Chuck Berry - No Particular Place To Go - 07-64 - Chess
Sam Cooke - Good News - 03-64 - RCA
Dale & Grace - Stop And Think It Over - 02-64 - Montel
The Dave Clark Five - Because - 08-64 - Epic
The Drifters - Under The Boardwalk - 08-64 - Atlantic
Shirley Ellis - The Nitty Gritty - 01-64 - Congress
Betty Everett - Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss) - 04-64 - Vee Jay
The Four Tops - Baby I Need Your Loving - 10-64 - Motown
Gale Garnett - We'll Sing In The Sunshine - 10-64 - RCA
Gerry & The Pacemakers - Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying - 06-64 - Laurie
Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto - The Girl From Ipanema - 07-64
Herman's Hermits - I'm Into Something Good -12-64 - MGM
Jan & Dean - Dead Man's Curve - 04-64 - Liberty
Jan & Dean - The Little Old Lady From Pasadena - 07-64 - Liberty
Jay & The Americans - Come A Little Bit Closer - 11-64 - UA
Little Anthony  & The Imperials - Goin' Out Of My Head - 12-64 - DCP
Manfred Mann - Do Wah Diddy Diddy - 09-64 - Ascot
Manfred Mann - Sha La La - 12-64 - Ascot
Martha & The Vandellas - Dancing In The Street - 09-64 - Gordy
Roy Orbison - Oh Pretty Woman - 09-64 - Monument
The Pyramids - Penetration - 02-64
Johnny Rivers - Maybelline - 09-64 - Imperial
Johnny Rivers - Mountain Of Love - 11-64 - Imperial
The Rolling Stones - Time Is On My Side - 11-64 - London
Ronny & The Daytonas - G.T.O. - 09-64 - Mala
The Searchers - Love Potion Number Nine - 12-64 - Kapp
The Shangri-Las - Leader Of The Pack - 11-64 - Red Bird
Dusty Springfield - Wishin' And Hopin' - 07-64 - Philips
The Tams -What Kind Of Fool (Do You Think I Am) - 02-64 - ABC
Tommy Tucker - Hi-Heel Sneakers - 03-64 - Checker
The Ventures - Walk Don't Run '64 - 08-64 - Dolton
Dionne Warwick - Walk On By - 05-64 - Scepter
Mary Wells - My Guy - 04-64 - Motown l
The Zombies - She's Not There - 11-64 - Parrot

Veronica Carr
Veronica Carr

nothing could be shittier than the music of 2014

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