NO ALTERNATIVE

A LOOK AT THE MODERN-ROCK SONGS DENVER RADIO IS DOING TO DEATH.

"Don't You (Forget About Me)," by Simple Minds (1985)
The omnipresence of Simple Minds on FM dials during the middle and late Eighties can be traced directly to "Don't You (Forget About Me)," a song marked by a sweeping sense of dynamics, highfalutin synth work and a keening vocal performance from former Chrissie Hynde hubby Jim Kerr. To Kerr's credit, his current work is far from an embarrassment (although the matching jackets he and his fellows are wont to don in concert are a little, well, Duran Duran). And at least the Minds are sharp enough to downplay their connection to the aforementioned Hughes, whose treacly 1985 coming-of-age flick The Breakfast Club originally pushed the single onto the charts.

THINKING PERSON'S MUSIC FOR THOSE WHO CAN'T THINK FOR THEMSELVES "Tempted," by Squeeze (1981)

A near-sultry groove and the disaffected crooning of ivory tickler Paul Carrack helped "Tempted" seduce a generation of dateless male undergrads into thinking that skinny ties were cool. It's far from the only decent song written by this still-interesting combo, but you'd never know it from the frequency with which clueless jocks broadcast it.

"Sensual World," by Kate Bush (1989)
Equal parts girlish vocals and womanly aspirations, "Sensual World" is emblematic of the music that's propelled the semi-reclusive Miss Bush into her role as a somewhat hipper option to Stevie Nicks. A must-hear for earth waifs and the boys who'd like to boff them.

"More Than This," by Roxy Music (1981)
This tune's got it all, including a soaring keyboard arrangement, the tremulous warblings of Bryan Ferry and vaguely romantic lyrics of the sort that probably would mean next to nothing if you could actually discern them. But for all its superficial suavity, "More Than This," like the vast majority of the Ferry/Roxy Music songbook, exists for one purpose only--to reduce the innards of clove-sucking alternababes to jelly. A noble purpose, to be sure, but still--there's something almost sacrilegious about trotting out so much naked sensuality in response to a lunch-hour request called in by Bertha in data processing.

"Life During Wartime," by Talking Heads (1979)
"This ain't no party/This ain't no disco/ This ain't no fooling around"? You got that right. For a while, the chorus of "Wartime" threatened to become a national catchphrase for scads of music journalists and directionless art-school pukes who saw Heads singer/fellow geek David Byrne as their one true savior. Instead, the less-than-sonorous Byrne turned out to be something else--a performer whose fondness for South American rhythms convinced him that he deserved to be worshiped as the high priest of the worldbeat crowd. Who probably got along just fine without him.

"Steam," by Peter Gabriel (1992)
It seems wrong somehow to call "Steam" a Gabriel original, because it so closely resembles a ball-pein version of "Sledgehammer," one of his genuine pop masterworks. But its redundancy doesn't seem to bother certain lazy listeners, whose appreciation for Gabriel's audio, video and cyberspace innovations seemingly has blinded them to the possibility that he may be running out of creative gas. In fact, the song's formulaic construction is nearly as grating as the vocalist's fake falsetto screams. We certainly expect more from Gabriel, a man smart enough to get out of Genesis while the getting was good.

"If You Love Somebody Set Them Free," by Sting (1985)
Granted, the former Gordon Sumner still looks okay in a pair of tight trousers. And through a miracle known only to members of the Hair Club for Men, his hairline has made more comebacks than George Foreman. But when you get right down to it, the former Police frontman hasn't written a passable song since "Roxanne"--and while he's toned down the fake Jamaican accent he used in those days, his paper-thin screeching throughout "Free" makes Sammy Hagar sound pleasant by comparison. Equally unsavory is the artist's continued insistence upon his own importance (which regrettably has become a self-fulfilling prophecy) and the almost palpable disdain he displays toward his former bandmates. Pray that his fans start treating him the same way soon.

Have we missed any overplayed modern-rock selections? If so, please send your suggestions to Westword, c/o Backbeat, 1621 18th Street, Denver, CO 80202, or fax us at 296-5416.

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