Thursday, August 20, 2015

"I Feel The Magic" All Right - In My Groin AKA Belinda's Hair Gets Its Own Solo Career

Looking for the gooeyist, chewiest, frothiest, bubbliest '80s pop song in the history of the universe? Fellow Cosmic Americans, I give you Belinda Carlisle's "I Feel The Magic."

If any of her old punk and New Wave fans and peers might have kinda sorta found the charm in "Mad About You," after hearing "I Feel The Magic," they probably ran for the hills. With the first one, they figured, "Yeah, OK, she wants to dip her toes into a little mainstream pop, just to see what it feels like, get it out of her system, whatever, cool, let's move on." But "I Feel The Magic" is so ... bouncy. It's so aggressively bouncy. It's like Lesley Gore's "Sunshine, Lollipops And Rainbows" on androstenedione. It is the point where Belinda gleefully demonstrated that she didn't give a shit how ridiculous her solo career got. It is Miles Copeland's worst nightmare.

While finding stylistic inspiration in the '60s girl group sound was certainly nothing novel for our newly crowned Queen of Yuppie Rock (her former band having tapped that source in about half its material), "I Feel The Magic" shows Belinda doing it without much of the ironic twist or sly wink that the Go-Go's brought to the task. I think songs like "We Got The Beat" or "Skidmarks On My Heart" were trying to send up the corniness of the original genre, mock it a little. "I Feel The Magic" embraces that corniness with a big cuddly hug. I'm pretty sure Belinda heard the demo and said, "Ooh, this is just like all those Motown and Phil Spector songs I used to sit around and listen to in my bedroom! I wanna do a song like that!" In the past, her band mates might have intervened, but now ... there was no one to stop her. Well, Charlotte could have stopped her, except for the fact that she co-wrote the thing. At any rate, maybe Super-Gooey Belinda was a little too much for the American public; whereas "Mad About You" soared to #3, "I Feel The Magic" petered out at #82. I guess not enough people felt the magic?

Honestly, I want to keep making fun of it, but the sad truth is that I unequivocally adore this song as I unequivocally adore anything ever touched by the precious hand of Belinda. Seriously, anyone else think this should have been way bigger than it was? As a shameless piece of '60s retro-fluff, it's right on the money. First of all, listen to that raging army of bells and tambourines in the background. A couple of years ago I recall reading a YouTube exchange (I think it's gone now) where one commentator wrote, "This sounds like a Christmas song," and another commentator responded, "With Belinda, it's always Christmas." Precisely, my friend, precisely. Then there are the comical saxophone interjections taken, perhaps accidentally, from Coasters songs like "Yakety Yak" and "Along Came Jones," although the solo kind of reminds me of the sax solo from Supertramp's "It's Raining Again," which probably wasn't the idea. The single would have been even more of a spot-on homage if it weren't for the ill-advised drum production (particularly egregious at the start of the chorus), which probably dates the song faster than a Micro Machines reference. Then there is also the employment of the term "angel baby," which conjures up recollections of Rosie & the Originals' "Angel Baby" and Shelly Fabares' "Johnny Angel." To summarize the plot of the piece, last night (AKA 1984) Belinda gave up on herself, and then "in a dream," she saw Morgan's face, so, now she "feel[s] the magic like [she] never felt before":
Last night I gave up on myself
I hit the bed, tell me what should I do
And in a dream I saw your face
It's more than just a face
You make me want to give my heart away

I feel the magic
Like I never felt before
I imagine that it's always been there
I feel the magic
There's an angel looking after me
Angel baby give me more and more

Today I woke up by myself
I hit the streets, I wondered what should I do
I never noticed from the start
That I could feel alive again
That I could feel a part of
Sometimes you really have to bounce back from a coke addiction and marry a Yuppie husband in order to bring the necessary level of conviction to cheese this musty.

Now, hard as it may be to believe, but the video for "I Feel The Magic" is even fluffier than the song is. It is literally fluffy. The video should've sported the subtitle, "Belinda's Hair." There must have been an army of stylists sitting around off-camera, just blow-drying her hair to perfection. Not to mention the make-up people, the wardrobe consultants, skin lotion experts, etc. etc. Then again, this was still IRS Records we're talking about. It looks like it was filmed in an abandoned warehouse, and they just shoved Belinda onto a sound stage with a camera and a bunch of cute outfits and let the magic roll. Just take the opening shot. She's cooing "ooh ooh" in a partially unbuttoned light blue button-up blouse while her golden locks flutter all around her. Why is it so windy in there? Somebody close the window. Then she's running around, being chased by a giant spotlight, wearing a red sweater that's sliding off her shoulders. Did she just break out of prison? Turn on the rest of the lights! A couple of shots later, she's sitting down in the red sweater, and her hair's all wet. Did she just get out of the shower or something? Maybe the blow-drying stylists were on their lunch break? Get her a towel! At this rate, maybe she should have just done a shampoo ad. Oh wait a second, she actually did:

Oh, then she's in a purple business suit, her hair pinned up in a bun (almost looking red - a look which I thought came a little later?), leaning against a model of the Eiffel Tower (that just happened to be there?), and smoking a cigarette. It's funny to read YouTube comments which chastise her for smoking in a music video. Believe me, cigarettes were the least of this woman's vices. One person wrote, "She's smoking? YUCK, SICK!," but another commentator quickly added, "She's smoking alright. Smoking hot!" Nice one. Other highlights:
Very close to "Mad About You" video era, at her absolute peak of hotness, and that is a REALLY high level of hotness.

How could she ever wake up by herself ?

She's the most beautiful woman who ever drew a breath.

perfect toe tappin hips gyrating belinda carlisle we salute you

I've got some magic for you to feel too...

Sexy. Black tank, blue denim shirt. Oh man.

The song is unmemorable, like most of her songs, (the only two that mattered were Heaven Is A Place On Earth and Circles In The Sand), but I fully remember now why I was crushing so hard on this hot as hell woman back in the 80's. Her look, her smile, just unreal, so damn beautiful.
"Unmemorable"? You know what, buddy? You're unmemorable. So then she twirls around in a denim shirt over a ... black sleeveless dress? Whose idea was that? We even get some of the "avant-garde" green tinted low-res footage previously seen in the "Mad About You" video. Honestly, the woman's physical charms at this stage of her career were plentiful, but this video might be a little too much - even for me. "Mad About You" had some subtlety to it; "I Feel The Magic" is just so "in your face." Watch as she cozies up to the wall (1:22), plops down onto a conveniently-placed love seat (1:35) ... dear God. Could it be? Had Belinda finally transformed into ... Snuggle the fabric softener bear?

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