#Music A-Z Challenge Week 9 – J is for Janet, K is for Kim, and L is Laura
This week I’m doing a triple play; J, K, and L show a transformation in my listening choices. I will start with a fantastic One Hit Wonder, Jermaine Stewart. For the longest time, due to his falsetto, I thought he was a woman, but that didn’t matter, I loved his song Cherry Wine as I call it, though the title is We Don’t Have to Taker Our Clothes Off. The other tracks of Frantic Romantic are just as fun, and full of energy.
Johnny Hates Jazz is another that hits the One Hit Wonder category, which is a shame because their Sophistipop sound is spectacular. Their first album (not their only) Turn Back the Clock had the melodic joy with all the tracks in which they singled five. Later on, I discovered they had an e.p., Turn the Tide, and a second album, Tall Stories; both of these releases are exceptional and worth listening to. Then, in 2013, out of nowhere, they released a new album Magnetized.
In 1987, while listening to static ridden AM radio, I heard a song on the Dr. Demento show that caught my attention. Yes, it was silly, and still is. That song was The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun by Julie Brown. No, not the MTV VJ Downtown Julie Brown, the other Julie Brown, the funny one. She also had a show on MTV called Just Say Julie. Her 1987 album, Trapped in the Body of a White Girl, is a mix of comedy songs, as well as great pop songs, and in my opinion should’ve singled. Time Slips Away and Every Boy’s Got One are a few of my favorite tracks.
I remember this little girl from the TV Show in the 70’s, Good Times (still one of my favorite shows, but that’s a whole different post). She played Penny Gordon Woods from 1977 to 1979, then in 1986 a music video came on MTV, and I never placed the woman singing Nasty as the same person as the poor abused girl from Good Times, but Janet Jackson won me over again. Control was the first album I was aware of, I had no idea about the two previous albums until a few years later. Three years later came Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, and dang she brought her A-Game from the intro track to the outro. Both Control and Rhythm Nation have played a huge role of me dancing in my seat whenever they’ve made it to the playlist.
Jody Watley became a constant in my cassette player with her self-titled first album. Each track is a delight to the ears; good beats, wonderful lyrics. After leaving Shalimar, she made a great statement of who she was as an artist. Her next album, Larger Than Life, continued the dance hits, and the remix album You Wanna Dance With Me? highlighted the first two albums hits with extended grooves.
As I move into K, I think of other One-Hit Wonders that I’ve always loved, and Kajagoogoo is a great example. The track Too Shy was the only single from the band’s first album White Feathers (1983). Then, I think for most people, they disappeared, but not for me. Their next album, Islands (1984), had more fun, great songs; it was recorded without Limahl, but the sound didn’t change, except of course, the vocals. And the third album, which I think of as just fantastic, Crazy Peoples Right to Speak, was the final. Limahl pursued a solo career, and had two albums in the 80’s (Don’t Suppose, 1984, and Colour All My Days, 1986). And, let’s not forget his hit The NeverEnding Story theme song. I still don’t know how it’s possible that this dude can hit such high notes.
Kevin Paige is an artist I always wished had done more than one album. He had a gritty, soulful feel about him. I still find myself singing along to Don’t Shut Me Out.
The next artist I want to discuss, while not having much US success, had great music, and it makes me question why she wasn’t more popular her. Kim Wilde found me in 1986 with her cover of You Keep Me Hangin’ On from the Another Step album. The video for this track was kinda weird, and I still think was identical to someone else’s video, but I can’t think of whose it was. While I do enjoy this song, I like Kids in America the best.
Kon Kan hit my ears in 1989 with the song I Beg Your Pardon (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden). While I was familiar with other artists who used samplings of sounds, etc., but I’d never heard anything like this, and was pleased to have found them. You can’t help but jump up and move your body when their songs start. Great stuff, too bad they only lasted three albums; the third of which I don’t like at all, they lost their unique synthpop sound and tried to sound like everyone else.
Laura Branigan’s album Self Control (1984) is honestly the only album of hers I like, I think because the others are too Adult Contemporary. Self Control is an album I listened to a lot when it came out, and from time to time include it in my weekly playlists. Her first album Branigan (1982) had the song Gloria, which is a favorite, but the rest of the album makes me sleepy, as does the second Branigan 2.
Another jazzy Sophistipop band demands attention, Level 42. They are smooth and nice. In 1985 Something About You was the song from World Machine that attracted me to them. They’ve had rather successful career, though not in the US. I do enjoy all of their albums, but World Machine remains my favorite.
Love and Rockets wraps it up for this week’s entry. Their first album I purchased was Earth, Sun, Moon; it was one of those random selections at K-Mart, and is their third album. It has the strange, but delightful track, Mirror People. Their next album Love and Rockets (1989) has the song everyone remembers, So Alive. This album is different than the previous as it is grittier, and the following are different from the one before, giving the feel of a new band from album to album.