I read somewhere once that a trend has to have been officially passé for twenty years before it is considered worthy of relevance again (1).
In layman terms, that means it becomes "cool" for a second time.
The reason why it is necessary for twenty years to pass is because it has to be reintroduced by a group of people who were not around to have actively participated in the trend, and to have witnessed its' inevitable fall from public favor.
In effect, what may appear to be a trend better left to nostalgia for those who ACTUALLY spent their money and time indulging the first time will be something altogether fresh and exciting for a younger set to young to realize how CORNY it actually is.
This set's reference points for the trend would be the nostalgic chatter of older family and friends, old television shows, and, keeping in tune with this particular review, any episode of VH1 "I Love The '80s".
It freaks me out to think that anyone would INTENTIONALLY wear a Gumby haircut, parachute pants, Swatch watches, and truck jewelry again. In addition, the '80s was a peculiar time in music because electronic synthesizers and samplers had just become the dominant tools of musical orchestration.
Artists and musicians managed to create a decade of music that many people feel was a LOW POINT in the documented years of recorded sound (2). Notice that when many BEST-OF lists come out concerning popular music, you rarely see the same level of representation of songs and albums from the '80s as you see from the '60s and '70s.
Solomon Cortes does not rhyme; he is a singer – and he manages to capture just about everything that was GOOD about '80s pop music. If all goes as well as it should, Mr. Cortes should be experiencing a steady stream of HITS in 2008 that could have been hits in the '80s.
Let us start with "At Least Tonight", a mid-tempo romantic burner that sounds like it could have come right off the Tears for Fears assembly line.
I mean that in a good way.
"At Least Tonight" lulls you into a false sense of laidback before "Open Up" comes in to BUST you over your head. From the opening strums of the rhythm guitar, the squiggly synth, and swinging handclaps, you have a joint that would have been right at home on MTV back when the spaceman served as MTV's station identification.
I promise you that if "Open Up" had been a single from WHAM, we would be discussing this one over on the VH1 message boards. However, all things old are new again, and this new twist on an old style should strike chart gold for Mr. Cortes with the right promotion.
Solomon Cortes does not stop, he just keeps coming with the '80s-styled pop bangers with "Body Suit", and reaffirming what I had a sneaking suspicion of when I heard the first two tracks – this guy knows his way around a melody and he is a rock solid lyricist to boot.
That, my friends, is a talent that NEVER has an expiration date.
Keep in mind that he is PLAYING most of the music on the EP himself, and what you have here is a solid talent that definitely holds his own in the '80s Retro movement, but practices the same sound principles that makes an artist a success in any decade.
Now pass me those Cazal shades, Bally sneakers, and that FAT gold chain.
Nervous Picks: "At Least Tonight", "Open Up", "Body Suit"
1: In the '60s, "The Lawrence Welk Show" became a television smash hit.
In the '70s, you had the blockbuster film "Grease" and the '50s revivalist act "Sha Na Na". Doo Wop would make a comeback.
In the '80s, just about every new wave act either copped the Mersey rhythm popularized by Motown, or created thinly veiled remakes of Motor City classics.
In the 90's, you had the Acid Jazz explosion, the Neo-Soul movement, the introduction of the long-running television series, "The '70s Show", and the film "Dazed and Confused".
2: A list of artists who acheived damn near MYTHIC status in their golden era in the '60s and '70s who seemed hellbent at debunking their legacies in the '80s.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: July 22, 2008