Friday, July 23, 2010

That 1984 Feeling

Funny how time flies.

Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, I just watched two transcendentally cheesy videos from the 1980s that I haven't thought of in a long, long while. And it took until the year 2010 for me to notice something that I didn't even notice back then - that two of the biggest, greatest "new wave" hits of the 80s shared the identical title of "Head Over Heels".

"Head Over Heels" by the Go-Gos, from their Talk Show album, was released as a U.S. single in October 1984. Just three months later, "Head Over Heels" by Tears For Fears came out in February 1985 on the Songs from the Big Chair LP. It went on to be the third hit single from the album later that summer.

Something else the two HOH's have in common is that they were both unexpected by each band's fan base. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Shout" were obvious singles from the TFF album, but no one saw any future for a megahit record with any of the other songs, at least not me. Yet lightning struck a third time for the band, and "Head Over Heels" is actually better remembered today than "Shout", thanks to placement in the film Donnie Darko.

The Go-Gos were thought to be washed up and no one even expected a third album from them, much less a blockbuster hit: their "Head Over Heels" reached #11 on the Billboard charts.

"I must be losin' it 'cause my mind plays tricks on me", indeed: watching the Go-Gos hopping around projecting the apex of palpable cheerfulness (even though we later learned they all hated each other's guts at the time), I can see all women personified in them, every woman I've ever known and loved, embedded and embodied in these five archetypes. Is it pathetic to be getting misty-eyed over a freakin' Go-Gos video? Don't answer that.

The TFF video, on the other hand, is a more head-scratching bit of puzzling evidence: it's a surreal dream in what appears to be the library of a seminary or church, as Roland Orzabal flirts with a librarian by pointing a toy gun at her. Oh, and there's a chimp too.

The absurdity of the video is best experienced when viewing the chuckle-worthy literal version.

According to this site, the first known instance of the phrase "head over heels" occurred in Herbert Lawrence's novel "Contemplative Man" in 1771. Prior to that, the common phrase was actually "heels over head", dating back to the 14th century and referring to the act of acting crazy and doing cartwheels, literal or symbolic. By the 19th century it had become almost entirely reserved as a romantic term, since being in love is certainly something to jump up and down, do cartwheels, and act crazy over. Aleister Crowley also invoked the phrase to refer to Rose, the great love of his life.

Been running so long I've nearly lost all track of time. These videos take me back to those peculiar Reagan years, when it really looked like we really were all about to be blown all to hell by the Russians at any second. Good times.

- - JSH

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