Day: November 2, 2018

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 16

Chart Week: October 13, 1984
Song: “Strut” – Sheena Easton
Chart Position: #31, 8th week on the chart. Peaked at #7 the week of November 24.

To me, at least, it seems like Sheena Easton’s career was longer than it actually was. She exploded onto the scene in 1981 with the world-wide smash “9 to 5 (Morning Train),” which went to #1 in four countries and was top 10 in four others. She followed that up later in ’81 with the theme song from For Your Eyes Only which hit #1 in three nations and was top ten in nine more. She hit the US top 10 again in 1983, singing with Kenny Rogers on “We’ve Got Tonight.” And there were a handful of minor hits that have been largely forgotten over the years.

In this initial stage of her career, she struck the image of a sweet, wholesome girl from Scotland. Whether it was a concerted effort to push her songs higher up the charts, or just maturity and confidence, in the mid–80s she made a dramatic change in her image. She showed more skin. Her videos were sexy. And she recorded one of the most notorious songs of the decade with Prince.

But “Strut” is the song I remember most fondly from that second phase of her career. It is big, bold, brassy, sassy, and a ton of fun. Where “Sugar Walls” was pornographic, “Strut” is simply about self belief. If 1981 Easton was the ingenue, bright-eyed and reserved, 1984 Easton was a grown-ass woman who was totally in charge of her life.

It’s a pretty good song, but if it came in any other year I would likely have pushed it aside in my memory banks for other songs. Coming in the greatest year in pop music history, though, means it will always have a little boost above other random 80s songs.

Ironically the week I heard this countdown I came across an old Miami Vice episode on local TV. Which got me digging through the list of MV episodes. I had forgotten that Easton had a brief guest run on the show as a pop star that Sonny Crockett was assigned to protect. As these things go, they fell in love, married, and she was eventually murdered by a rival of Crockett.

I couldn’t recall if Easton and Don Johnson had a relationship outside of the show. A quick check suggests they did not; her time on the show coincided with Johnson’s relationship with Barbra Streisand and Easton may have still been involved with Prince at the time. I did find that Easton has been married four times, never longer than 18 months. I find that random and wacky.

Friday Playlist

We’ll start with a playlist. If all goes well, I’ll have a video for you later in the day.

“Rain Check” – Carl Broemel. I’m not sure if I totally missed Indy native Broemel’s new album earlier this year, or if I listened to it and it just didn’t connect. I’m guessing it is more option A because this song rocks and I’m sure I would not have ignored it had I heard.

“4AM” – Spielbergs. Speaking of rocking, that’s all these guys are capable of doing.

“Ever Again” – Robyn. Her new album, Honey, takes longer to hit than her last album, the classic Body Talk. But moments like this are immediate and vital.

“Salt Eyes” – Middle Kids. I love the pace that MK work at. A couple singles in 2016. An EP in 2017. Debut LP this year. And already dropping new music on us. Fitting, then, that this was recorded in Ryan Adams’ PAX-AM studios, where he is constantly cranking out new tunes. MK are, officially, my favorite up-and-coming band now. Their sound is constantly morphing and they’ve yet to miss on anything they’ve tried. More people need to know about them.

“Love Is Alive” – Gary Wright. A throw-back jam for you. For some strange reason Fox used this song as a regular bumper music track during the baseball playoffs. Not sure if it was pulled directly from Joe Buck’s record collection or what. Anyway, it is a jam and a half, built on that opening riff and bass line that repeat throughout. It hit #2 back in 1976, matching what Wright’s previous hit, “Dream Weaver,” did. 

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