Say Cheese! Make love to the camera! Smile! Watch the birdie! Hold still! I’m taking a selfie!
Photographs can capture a moment in time just like any memorable song can. Working hard in his darkroom, guest shutterbug Chris Rooney has edited the most lyrical snapshots from this photogenic mixtape.
(To listen to this or any of our other playlists via Spotify, click here.)
Duran Duran, “Girls On Film” (1981)
“…Lipstick cherry all over the lens as she’s falling…”
Japan, “Gentlemen Take Polaroids” (1980)
“…Gentlemen take polaroids / They fall in love they fall in love… Just a foreign town with a foreign mind / Why is everything so cut and dried?…”
Aztec Camera, “Oblivious” (1983)
“…They’re calling all the shots / They call and say they phoned / They’ll call us lonely when we’re really just alone / And like a funny film, it’s kinda cute
They bought the bullets and there’s no one left to shoot…”
The Cure,“Pictures Of You” (1990)
“…I’ve been looking so long at these pictures of you / That I almost believe that they’re real…”
Bucks Fizz, “My Camera Never Lies” (1982)
“…My camera never lies / So I’ll put you in the picture and cut it down to size…”
A Flock of Seagulls, “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)” (1982)
“…If I had a photograph of you / Or something to remind me / I wouldn’t spend my life just wishing…”
The Speedies, “Let Me Take Your Photo” (1979)
“…I went and colored all my hair / Let me take your photo / So my snapshot won’t be there / Let me take your photo / I don’t wanna see no Polaroid, no! / Let me take your photo / Because I just might get annoyed…”
The Lotus Eaters, “The First Picture Of You” (1983)
“…The first picture of you / The first picture of summer / Seeing the flowers scream their joy…”
Mission of Burma, “This Is Not A Photograph” (1981)
“…This is just a perpendicular line to the grain / This is not a photograph…”
Blondie, “Picture This” (1978)
“…All I want is a photo in my wallet / A small remembrance of something more solid…”
Depeche Mode, “Photographic” (1981)
“…I take pictures / Photographic pictures / Bright light, dark room / Bright light, dark room…”
The Fixx, “Cameras In Paris” (1982)
“… There’s cameras in Paris / Some papers are missing / Exposure’s automatic…”
Siouxsie And The Banshees, “Red Light” (1980)
“…That Kodak whore winking / ‘Til the aperture shuts / Too much exposure…”
The Buggles, “I Am A Camera” (1981)
“…There by the waterside / Here where the lens is wide / You and me by the sea…”
From the gold lamé suit worn by ABC’s Martin Fry to the bleached golden locks of Blondie’s Deborah Harry, the new wave era has always had the Midas touch. Follow Chris Rooney’s rainbow of songs to the very end to find your very own pot of gold standards. (To listen to this or any of our other playlists via Spotify, click here.)
Spandau Ballet, “Gold” (1983)
Spandau frontman Tony Hadley’s recent thoughts on the tune: “’Gold’ is the song which even today’s kids enjoy singing along to in student bars up and down the country, and is one of main reasons I get so many corporate shows. It’s requested all the time at awards shows.” Ironically, the single only achieved Silver in the UK, unlike their previous single, “True,” which attained Gold status with sales of over 400,000 units.
The Human League, “(You Remind Me Of) Gold” (1982)
If Philip Oakey was resistant about releasing “Don’t You Want Me” as a single, he probably later kicked himself for relegating this synthpop gem to second fiddle as the B-side of the Human League’s single, “Mirror Man.”
Marian Gold of Alphaville, “Sounds Like A Melody” (1984)
Born Hartwig Schierbaum, the Alphaville frontman changed his name to Marian Gold. Perhaps he was inspired by another singer with a big, operatic voice and a stage name taken from another element in the periodic table – Queen’s Freddie Mercury?
The Stranglers, “Golden Brown” (1982)
If you were concocting the perfect playlist for a heroin addict, The Stranglers’ hypnotic waltz would lay strung out well between the Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting for the Man” and The Las’ “There She Goes.”
Simple Minds, “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” (1982)
“Every band or artist with a history has an album that’s their holy grail,” said vocalist Jim Kerr. “I suppose New Gold Dream was ours. It was a special time because we were really beginning to break through with that record, both commercially and critically. The people that liked that record connected with it in a special way. There was a depth to it: it created its own mythology. It stood out. It was our most successful record to date and, critically, the (music journalist) Paul Morleys of this world were writing very nice things about it.”
David Bowie, “Golden Years” (1975)
Bowie allegedly offered the song to Elvis Presley to perform, but that Presley declined it. Ironically, Bowie can still enjoy the song in his golden years unlike Elvis who died two years later. Want to bet that probably only second to The Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four,” this song has played at more AARP conventions than any other?
Golden Earring, “Twilight Zone” (1982)
The Dutch band had been kicking around since their inception in the mid-1960s with some minor success until they finally struck gold in the America thanks to their cinematic video played endlessly on the fledgling music channel, MTV. Interestingly enough, the song was inspired not by the famous TV series of the same name, but by the Robert Ludlum novel The Bourne Identity, which would later be turned into a popular movie twenty years later.
Annie Golden, “Hang Up the Phone” (1984)
Former lead singer of the power pop band and CBGB regulars, The Shirts, Golden went solo for this oh-so-1980s-poppy song used on the Sixteen Candles soundtrack.
The Smiths, “Golden Lights” (1986)
Ah, the pitfalls of fame and the ones you leave behind. Originally written and sung by the melancholic teenage singer, Twinkle back in 1964; “Golden Lights” is only one of two covers that The Smiths ever recorded in the studio. The other was a cover of a Cilla Black song, “Work Is A Four-Letter Word” which Morrissey insisted upon and is what supposedly was the straw that broke the camel’s back when Johnny Marr decided to quit the band in 1987.
Yello, “Goldrush” (1986)
There are two mysteries behind Yello’s music video for “Goldrush”. First, is everyone clamoring for an actual nugget of gold in his pocket or is it something more euphoric like a pocketful of poppers? The lyrics ”You’ve got that nugget in your hand..clouds, love, stars colours…rush” would certainly suggest so. And second, why doesn’t Billy MacKenzie from The Associates make a guest appearance since he’s singing the chorus? William, it was really nothing.
Aztec Camera, “Just Like Gold” (1981)
The debut single by Roddy Frame and the boys shimmers and shines with its jangly guitar work and jazzy drumming. Frame’s quest for more gold came with the band’s 1988 single, “Working In A Goldmine”. No wonder the invading Spanish conquistadors were so interested in fortunes of the Aztec Empire.
Johnny Hates Jazz, “Heart of Gold” (1988)
Johnny may have hated jazz, but he always loved a hooker with a heart of gold. I get the feeling that with Johnny’s luck, it will end with “Shattered Dreams” and a case of venereal disease.
Siouxsie & The Banshees, “Ornaments of Gold” (1988)
Siouxsie’s exquisite, exotic teaser invites you to a hedonistic world of “silver couches to recline upon / and ornaments of gold / silver moonbeams dance in fountains / below shining citadels”. Nothing is too good for Siouxsie.
The Stone Roses, “Fool’s Gold” (1989)
As the 1980s drew to a close, new wave was in the rear-view mirror. After The Smiths’ demise in 1987, the British music press was on the hunt to rave about the next big indie sensation. Lurking in the shadows were The Smiths’ fellow Mancunians, The Stone Roses. The band’s breakthrough came in 1989 with “Fool’s Gold”, their epic ode to pyrite.
This helped to set off the gold rush-like frenzy known as Madchester, the new decade’s short-lived Northern England music scene that mixed alternative rock, psychedelic rock and electronic dance music.
For those who look forward to Feb. 14 and those who abhor it: Our second-annual playlist, and this one’s half dedicated to space-aged love songs, the other half a soundtrack of gut-wrenching weepies. (To listen via Spotify, click here.)
Side A: Anti-love songs:
“Love Song,” Simple Minds
Not sure how much of a love song this actually is. Simple Minds were in their determinedly impenetrable phase, so who knows? Classic 80s freaking-out-the-squares video.
“Love Song,” The Damned
Not sure how much of a love song this actually is either. The Damned, in their second incarnation, with their first proper hit, unveiling their hidden secret: Captain Sensible was a really good pop songwriter.
“Love Part 1 (Poem),” Dexys Midnight Runners
This definitely isn’t a love song. “Love Part 1 (Poem)”, from Dexys’ classic first album, is a sour, spoken-word refutation of the very existence of love. When I interviewed Kevin Rowland for Mad World:The Book, he claimed to have no memory of the song’s existence.
“When Love Breaks Down,” Prefab Sprout
Possibly something of a theme emerging here? Prefab Sprout’s most straight-forward song is tasteful slice of heartache.
“The Other End of the Telescope,” Til Tuesday
I’m a big fan of Til Tuesday’s Everything’s Different Now album. Though it starts with the optimistic ode-to-new-love title track, it’s filled with some of my favorite sad love songs, like “J For Jules,” Mann’s breakup ballad for ex-boyfriend Jules Shear, and the single “(Believed You Were) Lucky.” But the one that’s really stood the test of time is this bittersweet duet with Elvis Costello.
“Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me,” The Smiths
How many nights did I soak my pillow while listening to this on my Sony Walkman in my teenage bedroom? How many teens are doing that very thing right this minute? How many ADULTS? “The story is old, I know, but it goes on…”
“Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Joy Division (Thank you to @Tammy Hiller for this suggestion.)
Though the jangly guitars and singsongy melody sound upbeat and happy, this Joy Division classic — Ian Curtis’ swan song to his marriage — is the penultimate it’s-over track. I dare you to read the lyrics and not get a lump in your throat.
“A Promise,” Echo and the Bunnymen(Thank you to @Tammy Hiller for this suggestion.)
For every person who’s tried to change their partner (that would be every single human being ever): Don’t.
“Never Say Never,” Romeo Void(Thank you to @Davido222 for this suggestion.)
“Old couple walks by/as ugly as sin/But he’s got her/And she’s got him.” Yep, that sums about half the world’s feelings on Valentine’s Day.
Side B: Mushy New Wave Love Songs
LM’S PICKS: “Stripped,” Depeche Mode
I’ve never read 50 Shades of Grey, and I have no interest in seeing the movie. But, for my money, this is what sexy sounds like.
“Home and Dry,” Pet Shop Boys
This latter-day PSB track is the ultimate long-distance dedication: “Oh tonight I miss you/Oh tonight I wish you could be here with me/But I won’t see you til vou’ve made it back and again/home and dry.”
“Wishing (If I had A Photograph of You),” A Flock Of Seagulls
New wave men were so romantic — just listen to the soaring synthesized melody! The wistful lyrics! I would totally have dated Mike Score back in the day, hairdo and all. Hairdo especially.”
“Wonderful,” Adam Ant
I remember how shocked I was when Mr. Goddard released this romantic ballad. Equally shocking: it managed to be romantic even with the lyric “…when I nearly hit the face I love.” Thankfully Heather Graham got out before the going got rough.
“Save A Prayer,” Duran Duran
It’s everybody’s favorite new wave slow-dance jam. Somehow Simon Le Bon managed to convince Duran’s teenage fan base think the climactic love-‘em-and-leave-‘em couplet comparing one-night stands to paradise was something to sigh over.
“Just Like Gold,” Aztec Camera
Sixteen-year-old Roddy Frame ablaze with poetic fervor pouring his heart out on his first single.
“Lets Get Together Again,” Human League
Hard to imagine the Human League haven’t tried to forget they once covered Rock N Roll Part 2 by the evil predator, Gary Glitter. But the band’s Glitter connection goes deeper. On their patchy 1990 Romantic? album, they took a shot at the Glitter Band’s awesome glam hit “Lets Get Together Again” which is safe to post until wizened members of the Glitter Band start getting arrested.
“I’m In Love With A German Film Star,” The Passions
Which one? Gert Frobe? Horst Bucholz? Curt Jurgens? Thomas Gottschalk? We may never know?
“Goodbye Joe,” Tracey Thorn
Sultry cover of the already sultry Monochrome Set song
“(I Love You) When You Sleep”, Tracie
Paul Weller’s teenage prodigy sings an Elvis Costello song about how love can be at its strongest when the object of affection is unconscious.