Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dear God, Something Terrible's Happened, Why Can't Lionel Richie Slow Down??

In 1982, Lionel released his first solo album, simply called Lionel Richie. The album was an immediate success and boasted three hit singles: "Truly," "You Are" (which brightened up my '80s Tape) and "My Love," a song I heard on the radio a couple of months ago and kept waiting for it to slip into the chorus of "Easy," and then I realized that after a while Lionel Richie's ballads all just blend together and become one big Lionel stew.

But in retrospect, Lionel Richie was merely a warm-up for the MOR onslaught that was Can't Slow Down.

Imagine a record executive sitting around his penthouse in 1983, smoking a cigar, thinking, "Man, if only I had an album that was just like Thriller, but much wimpier." Can't Slow Down is that record.

Picture an emasculated hybrid of "Beat It" and "Bille Jean" and you might have "Running With The Night." Who needs a scorching guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen when you can have a scorching guitar solo from...Toto's Steve Lukather?

Then there was the time Lionel Richie tried to sound Jamaican. "People dancing all in the street/Feel the rhythm all in their feet/Life is goooood, whyyyylde and sweet." Dude, Lionel, you're from Alabama. You're not fooling anybody.

But clearly all the partygoers are having too good of a time to care about the man's dubious accent; even the policeman can't resist joining in on the fun. As one YouTube user put it, "This song stopped me from killing myself with a spoon today."

Also: did you know that Lionel Richie is huge in the Middle East? According to ABC News, "Grown Iraqi men get misty-eyed by the mere mention of his name. Iraqis who do not understand a word of English can sing an entire Lionel Richie song." Fittingly, on the night American tanks invaded Baghdad, Iraqis celebrated by blasting "All Night Long" throughout the streets. Probably not the kind of party Lionel had in mind.


Herr Zrbo said...

I've definitely heard that Iraqi's are fond of All Night Long. I swear there's a string of 80s music videos featuring these fake looking sets of city streets where everyone starts singing/dancing/partying. Like Janet Jackson's 'Escapade'. Also, I catch a strong 'Smooth Criminal' video vibe from Running with the Night, though Smooth Criminal was later, so maybe it was Michael copying Lionel, hmm?

Little Earl said...

Nah, I think it was more like Michael copying Lionel copying Michael. The "Running With The Night" video is like a rip-off of the "Beat It" and "Thriller" videos if you ask me - but still awesome, don't misunderstand me Lionel.

Then again, Michael Jackson didn't exactly invent the wheel, write the Constitution, and discover Penicillin all in one day, the way some of his more ardent fans might have you believe.