Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Life Beyond 1980's Power Ballads

An old song very randomly jumped into my head today.

Get ready for an earworm.

OMG, Google, I love you so much.
Remember The Karate Kid, Part II?

The year was 1986. We were all wearing oversize shirts,
pleated pants, and, uh, kimono blouses, I guess.
Remember "The Glory of Love"?

Remember Peter Cetera's hair?

Peter Cetera, the former lead singer of Chicago, had decided that Chicago simply rocked too hard with songs like "Colour My World" and "No Tell Lover" and struck out on his own with his mellow vibe and incredible golden waves of feathery blondeness. His first solo effort was the theme song to The Karate Kid, Part II, "The Glory of Love." Even if you didn't see the movie, the song was everywhere. And on MTV, the video was in extra-super-mega-hard-heavy rotation for a large part of 1986.

And if you're under 40, chances are you don't know what the hell I'm talking about. So here's the video; prepare to be devoured by the 1980s for the next four and a half minutes.

Pastels? Check. Japanese imagery? Check. Awkwardly incorporated film clips? Check. Peter Cetera gazing soulfully into the camera while layers of keyboards wash over you like ocean waves?

Damn, I think I just checked myself.

Anyway. I have to own this song as part of my '80s experience, just as much as working at a video store and wearing brightly colored oversized blazers and drinking wine coolers.

But as part of my older-but-wiser, 21st-century experience, I have to say that "The Glory of Love" contains some of the creepiest, least emotionally healthy lyrics I've ever heard.

I didn't realize that in the '80s. Believe it or not, young women of 2015, in 1986 it was considered romantic for a man to sing lines like "I am a man who will fight for your honor/I'll be the hero that you're dreaming of."

We wanted a 40-year-old pop crooner to save us from dishonor. Or at least promise he would do so in a Top 40 power ballad.

May I also remind you that this was
considered the face of female empowerment
at the time. The '80s were weird.

Today I hear those lyrics and I think: Well, thank you, Mr. Peter Cetera, but if we're even going to cling to the outdated notion that my honor is something to be defended, it's goddamn well going to be me who defends it.

And to quote Alice Childress (who truly is to be admired), a hero ain't nothin' but a sandwich.

Yet as nostalgically corny as those lines are, let's not forget that they are immediately preceded by these:

Sometimes I just forget
Say things I might regret
It breaks my heart to see you crying
I don't wanna lose you
I could never make it alone

If you've ever been in an abusive relationship, you may be shuddering right now.

If you've never been in an abusive relationship and think those words are kind of sweet and charming...I'm going to suggest some self-care and "you" time, because this is not what you deserve. Trust me.

If you don't believe me, perhaps you'll believe
beloved grumpy cat Tardar Sauce.
And this?

I have always needed you
I could never make it alone

Two pieces of advice:

1. Don't ever say this to another person
2. If another person ever says this to you, RUN.

I hate to think that Peter Cetera's picture appears in the dictionary next to the word "co-dependent." But shit, man.

Please tell me we've evolved from thinking this is a love song and not grounds for a restraining order.

Wait, one more couplet, because facepalm.

Just in time I will save the day
Take you to my castle far away

I have excellent credit, and I'll buy my own castle, thanks.

You can live there with me and help pay the bills, as long as you don't get caught up in your Prince Charming fantasies.

Christ on a sidecar.

Google fucking rocks.
Oh, 1980s. You shaped me. And every day I'm striving to reshape myself. I'm getting there.

Peter Cetera: Love your voice. Love your '80s hair. Hate those lyrics.

Ralph Macchio: Where are you? You totally deserve a Robert Downey, Jr. - size comeback.

P.S. I miss MTV, yo.


  1. I couldn't click on the video link because it was in my head the moment you said The Karate Kid II. And now I can't get rid of it. But for some weird reason it's fighting with "Hungry Eyes", probably because Eric Carmen's hair was even weirder.

    It's probably just as well that I couldn't understand the lyrics to songs like "The Glory of Love" because even as a teen that would have bothered me.

    Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go watch the video for "Cool Places" with Sparks and Jane Wiedlin. And that tall skinny guy with the moustache who does weird things throughout the video, occasionally with pictures of the transvestite Divine in the background. Before the glory of love MTV gave us the glory of weird.

  2. Not ever a fan of Chicago, or Air Supply, or Hall & Oats or any love ballads. Or poetry that rhymes. For this reason. The ONE exception is Dr. Suess, b/c if he couldn't force a word to fit for a rhyme, dude made one up. I can respect that a lot more than these weird ballads that make one person sound super pathetic in hopes of wooing another person. Fear of being alone doesn't make you attractive, poets and musicians.
    I wonder if it's just a writer thing, because I have gotten into many a debate over lyrics and told I'm 'over-thinking' it. One example is the Rapists Theme Song "Baby It's Cold Outside" where they even allude to something being in her drink. Cosby-level woman wooing.

  3. I saw that video for the first time about a year ago (I was 1 in 1986) and more than the hair, it was the sweater that impressed me. Well, that and the way he makes his hand into a fist when he is getting intense. Which I guess is not so cool in light of the creepy lyrics.

    The whole video and song are pretty unbelievable. The effect is sort of like when I see a Rick Astley video from that period: What the hell was going on in 1986?

    Your early comments about Cetera DID make me think of "You Never Listen to Me," a Cetera song from a couple years later that he did with Pink Floyd's David Gilmour in which Gilmour does his trademark Pink Floyd guitar thing. It sort of rocks, and if this youtube clip I found is any indication, might have been in "Miami Vice." (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8d1y_QjwcY)

  4. Hey, I like wine coolers, at least the ones I make myself. And vintage Chicago was awesome -- lots of brass. Love me some trumpets. But I'm really a 70s kid....

  5. This place was very comfortable. Restrooms were decent. Coming at party venues in Houston with my friends was an amazing experience. This is my favorite place now, because of its excellent food, perfect lighting, vibrant atmosphere and great ventilation.


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