Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pat Benatar And The Synthesizer: A Love Story

Then one day, Pat Benatar discovered the synthesizer.

It was hot '80s spandex love at first sight. This strange, enigmatic device transformed her already somewhat not very hard rocking hard rock into something even less rocking. But together, Benatar and the synthesizer teamed up to help rescue the Western World from the iron grip of the Nazi menace (as a bomber pilot, as Rosie the Riveter ... does it really matter?).

From the battlefields of '40s Europe to the battlefields of '80s New York, Benatar wasn't going to take this shit lying down. I wouldn't really say that love is a battlefield, though. Love is more like an abstract philosophical concept, but then again, I'm not wearing 40 necklaces and repelling gold-toothed bartenders with my boobs, am I?

"We Belong" sounds like it lifted the "sped-up guitar" trick from KC & The Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight," but most people probably can't tell the difference between a sped-up guitar and a synthesizer anyway. In the second half of the video, Benatar finds herself inside the cover of one of your middle school notebooks. Apparently, in the hell that is for children, there are also lots of waterfalls.

But somehow, in the midst of some the most '80s sounding music ever made, Benatar released a song that does not sound like the '80s in any way whatsoever. So puzzled must she have been by its existence, she didn't even know what to call it. She just called it "Ooh Ooh Song."

At first, opening with some crunchy guitar strums, "Ooh Ooh Song" sounds like it's going to be a hard rocking track, but that all goes out the window with the entrance of a retro-sounding keyboard and a snare-driven rockabilly beat. Who did she think she was, the Stray Cats? Did someone mislabel the master tape from the latest Rosanne Cash recording session? There's even a verse in Spanish (!). Remarkably, the video is about as free of '80s elements as the song is. Seriously, the lighting, the camera angles ... she's wearing overalls. Am I crazy in thinking this might be the best thing she ever did?

One final note: it turns out that Pat Benatar happened to publish a memoir of her own, Between A Heart And A Rock Place, in June 2010, at almost exactly the same time as Belinda Carlisle published Lips Unsealed. However tempting it may be, though, I refuse to read it, for fear of developing another unhealthy obsession with an '80s female singer. Sorry Pat, there's only room for one sleazy '80s memoir in this blogger's heart.

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