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What more fitting band to begin a new year with than Wang Chung? In their heyday – namely, during the frenzy that surrounded their immortal party hit, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” – they themselves celebrated the end of the old year and the beginning of the new by sending copies of the single to various world leaders at holiday time, in the hopes of ending the Cold War through the power of boogie. Whether Reagan, Thatcher, and Gorbachev ever even heard the record, or listened to it together when high, or sang it at a UN-karaoke night, or got freaky to it, we will likely never know. But everybody else with access to a radio, cassette player, or MTV certainly did at least one of those things.
Lame hipster mags like Blender like to make fun of “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” and mid-80’s songs like it – for example, Starship’s “We Built This City” – but what this really reveals about them is their tragic inability to relax. Maybe this is being too charitable, but I feel pretty sure that the guys of Wang Chung knew that “Everybody Wang Chung tonight” was meaningless and absurd. It’s the parallel universe version of their earlier hit, “Dance Hall Days,” in which an amorous young man is advised to “take your baby by the ears and play upon her darkest fears.” One tune has a dark tone and cool instrumentation, while the other has horns and a semi-queer yet fraternity-esque chorus, but their lyrics are equally ridiculous. Who cares, Blender? It’s pop music. Yours is just the kind of overserious attitude Starship is complaining about when they ask, “Who rides the wrecking balls into our guitars?”
Besides, Wang Chung earned its street cred with its criminally underappreciated theme song for the cop flick TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A., which may itself be underappreciated, but never having seen it, I’m not sure. All I know is, I better not get started listening to the song unless I have half an hour or so, because I have to listen to it over and over. It sounds like a Wang Chung record, but has lyrics that actually make sense, and one has to give the band props for integrating the movie’s title into them in what might be the slickest soundtrack maneuver since “Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!”:
In the dark of the night
Every time I turn the light
I feel that God is not in heaven
In the dark of the night…
I wonder why I live alone here
I wonder why we spend these nights together
Is this the room I’ll live my life forever
I wonder why in L.A.
To live and die in L.A.
Geez, after getting into that mindset, no wonder they went to “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.” (FYI: the video does NOT give people seizures…so Wang Chung to your heart’s content!)