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…”
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.
Not a peep out of Simon Lebon? A speechless Morrissey? Robert Smith contractually obligated not to sing? Yes, there are no words simple enough to describe these instrumentals that were often intentioned as album filler or the experimental B-sides to the artists’ latest single. But Chris Rooney does his best to find some…
David Bowie, “A New Career in a New Town” (1977)
After recording his previous album in Los Angeles, Bowie turned eastward and recorded the first of three albums in Europe. Collaborating with former Roxy Music keyboardist and ambient music innovator, Brian Eno brought a new dimension to Bowie’s sound – a sound that would be a preview of what was to come in the 1980s. The instrumental starts out somewhat lost and distant, but there’s a glimmer of optimism that stands out in Bowie’s harmonica-playing that suggests that he could reinvent himself elsewhere.
Giorgio Moroder, “The Chase” (1978)
After his initial success masterminding Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”, Moroder’s first time composing a movie soundtrack for the film Midnight Express would win him the Academy Award in 1978. He later would produce and arrange music for Blondie, David Bowie, Sparks, Japan and Berlin. Daft Punk would cite him as a major influence on their 2013 album, Random Access Memories with their song, “Giorgio by Moroder”.
The Police, “Behind My Camel” (1980)
The trio won their second Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1982 with this dreary composition that beat out Kraftwerk’s far superior “Computer World”. Written solely by guitarist Andy Summers, his bandmates Sting and Stewart Copeland both apparently despised it.
Human League, “Non-Stop” (1981)
Void of Philip Oakey and the girls, you’d might think that this B-side to “Open Your Heart” is a Devo tune with its hyperactive quirky-jerky synth beats written all over it.
British Electric Foundation, “Groove Thang” (1981)
Former Human League members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh created the production company, British Electric Foundation just prior to forming Heaven 17 with singer Glenn Gregory. Their first release was a cassette-only collection of instrumentals entitled Music For Stowaways, intended to be listened to on a Sony Walkman, which was first marketed in the UK as the Sony Stowaway. One of the instrumental tracks, “Groove Thang” would later become Heaven 17’s debut single, “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang” when lyrics and vocals were added to it.
Simple Minds, “Theme For Great Cities” (1981)
Probably the most definitive new wave instrumental ever produced. Its epic and atmospheric sound combine superb synths, a pumping bassline and rhythmic drums that hurl it all into the future.
Pigbag, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Pigbag” (1981)
A humorous nod to James Brown’s “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”, the band’s self-referential claim-to-fame was their hard-driving big band instrumental “Papa’s Got A Brand NewPigbag”. Today it still can be heard in football (soccer) stadiums across England before a match, at halftime and most joyously after a goal is scored.
Depeche Mode, “Any Second Now” (1981)
The B-side to “Just Can’t Get Enough” was actually two “firsts” for the band. Not only was it their first instrumental, but the band also recorded a version with vocals handled by Martin Gore for the first time.
The Glove, “A Blues In Drag” (1982)
The Glove was the side project of The Cure’s frontman Robert Smith and Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Steven Severin. Their only album, Blue Sunshine, combined their bands’ trademark goth sound with psychedelia. While most of the album was sung by a former girlfriend of Severin’s bandmate Budgie because Smith had a deal with his record label at the time not to sing with any other band, the hauntingly beautiful “A Blues In Drag” would be the sole instrumental piece.
ABC, “The Love Of Love (Part Four)” (1982)
Closing out The Lexicon of Love, this shimmering, orchestrated one-minute reprise acts like a condensed musical “review” of their sumptuously-produced debut album.
Duran Duran, “Rio” (1982)
Relish in this Simonless version of the title track to the band’s second album so that you can fully feast your ears on the epic saxophone solo towards the end that was ubiquitous to every early 80s pop hit.
Roxy Music, “India” (1982)
Tucked in the middle of Roxy Music’s last album was this short instrumental piece later played through the P.A. before the band took the stage on their final tour.
Tears For Fears, “The Marauders” (1983)
To keep the duo in the public eye between their debut album and second album, they released their stop-gap single “The Way You Are” with this instrumental as the B-side. They would later come to disinherit the A-side’s misguided direction, but “The Marauders” proved to be a catalyst for the bigger, more sophisticated pop sound that they were looking to achieve.
The Smiths, “Oscillate Wildly” (1985)
“We did it really quickly in just one evening, but it came together beautifully,” according to Johnny Marr about crafting their scintillating instrumental “Oscillate Wildly”. Marr has also said that it was never intended to have lyrics and that Morrissey supported him in this. Mozzer’s only contribution to the song probably was its pun-filled title that alludes to his literary hero, Oscar Wilde.
New Order, “Elegia” (1985)
Five years after his suicide, New Order composed this uncharacteristic ambient waltz in memory of Ian Curtis, lead singer of their former incarnation, Joy Division. Lonely and desolate, the instrumental definitely evokes the darker shades of their earlier work.
Harold Faltermeyer, “Axel F” (1985)
By the mid 1980s almost every popular Hollywood blockbuster had a pop soundtrack that would appeal to the MTV generation. The German-born studio musician scored big time with his synthpop theme song to comedic actor Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop.