Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Heat May Be On, But Glenn Frey's Blood Runs Ice Cold

It begins with soft, metallic clanging, like wind chimes shifting in the breeze. Then there is a demonic "unwinding" noise, akin to a drawbridge slowly descending over a moat, or the doors of the Taj Mahal opening one massive hinge at a time, perhaps. With a gigantic WHOOSH, out comes that diabolical instrument, unleashed into the night: the saxophone.

On a soundtrack dominated by electro-funk, Glenn Frey showed up with the Yuppie Rock, and this time, he brought the heat.

The heat was not without its irony however. Just as Kenny Loggins, a perfectly capable songwriter, didn't write "Danger Zone," so Glenn Frey, a man who surely knew his way around a pop composition or two, didn't actually write "The Heat Is On." I know, I just shattered all your childhood dreams. We can take a moment to rest, if you need it.

"Danger Zone," of course, was written by the producer of the Top Gun soundtrack, the supremely lubricative Giorgio Moroder, and so it's only fitting that "The Heat Is On" was co-written by one of Moroder's proteges, and the producer of the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, the only slightly less lubricative Harold Faltermeyer. So yes, Glenn Frey didn't actually compose what arguably turned out to be his biggest solo hit. I'm almost positive that Don Henley has never avoided an opportunity to remind Glenn of this little factoid every chance he gets. In sound, style, and attitude, though, "The Heat Is On" is much closer to "Footloose" than "Danger Zone," with its Winwood-esque keyboards, giddy hand claps, and "get up and rock this party" chorus (although this song probably hasn't rocked a party in a long, long time - maybe your step-dad's retirement party?).

But that's not the most amusing part. The most amusing part about the fact that Frey didn't write "The Heat Is On" is that the lyrics, with their overall nebulousness and pseudo-tough guy posturing, still fit in perfectly with the man's whole wannabe badass aesthetic. In other words, if he didn't come up with this shit, he easily could have. What exactly is the titular "heat" in question?
The heat is on
On the street
Inside your head
On every beat
And the beat's alive
Deep inside
The pressure's high
Just to stay alive
'Cause the heat is on
Is he cooking Top Ramen or something? Is it wintertime? Why the hell is the heat on? You're jacking up the energy bill buddy. Well, I guess he's supposed to be talking about cops, you know, the "law," the "fuzz," the "man." Maybe it's a prescient statement on global warming. No wait, I think I've got it: it's a song about gonorrhea.

The video features another in a long line of '80s film editors (possibly Jude Law's uncle?) who fancy themselves rock stars. Listen dude, you better leave the rocking out to Glenn Frey and his hypnotically androgynous sax player. As far as Glenn's gender is concerned, of course, there can be no doubt, as he's sporting some prominent chest hair, as well as a serious five o'clock shadow. If the "heat" is really "on," he should probably shave that thing. Most unintentionally hilarious moment(s): Glenn taking a break from his patented "eyes closed" singing method in order to stare directly into the camera and, after four suspenseful drum beats (or, as we're somewhat led to believe, microphone fist pounds), provocatively mouth the word "on" (1:35 and 2:24).

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