Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sailing On A Billy Ocean

You're probably sitting at home, thinking, "Why can't there be more R&B singers from Trinidad and Tobago?" Precisely, my friends. Precisely.

OK, so Billy Ocean moved to London when he was eight. But come on, London didn't put the "ocean" in "Billy Ocean," you know what I mean? A man never forgets hits roots, and even though he had several UK hits in the late '70s, it wasn't until the former Leslie Sebastian Charles painted a sultry portrait of a mythological creature from his homeland that he transcended the Atlantic ocean, and several others.

Apparently Ocean's record company thought it could milk the song for all it was worth by releasing it with region-specific lyrics; according to Wikipedia, "The song was recorded under different titles for different parts of the world—resulting in versions such as 'European Queen' and 'African Queen'." Come on, was that really necessary? I mean, the song was popular enough in America and Britain without needing to be called "American Queen" or "British Queen." Hell, Britain already has a queen. And America already has several, like Richard Simmons, and Gore Vidal.

Besides, in a way, "Caribbean Queen" had already been a worldwide smash. The four note synth riff; the eerie, swirling strings, the guitar lick drenched in echo ... where have I heard this all before?

Growing up with a song can sometimes blind you to its obvious similarities with another. I never, even for five seconds, realized until about six months ago that "Caribbean Queen" is a total rip-off of "Billie Jean." My God. It was right under my nose all this time and I never noticed it!

But let's face it - if you're going to rip off a song, it might as well be "Billie Jean." I mean, this in no way makes me like "Caribbean Queen" any less than I already did. It's a good rip-off!

At any rate, I have this image in my mind: the morning after discovering his Caribbean Queen, Billy Ocean picked up a guitar, sat out on his front porch, and sang "Suddenly" to the world.

Are you sure it's love, Billy, or maybe just a cold?


Herr Zrbo said...

What, no Get Out of My Dreams? Featuring some of the most rapey lyrics of the 80s! Or are you saving that for a later segment?

Little Earl said...

The proper title is "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car." And yes, I was planning on saving it for my Summer Of '88 series, which at this rate I will get around to in about two years.

Not sure what to do with "Loverboy" and its disturbing Star Wars Cantina scene homage video. Oh hell, let's consider it a special Cosmic American "comment reader's bonus."