Sunday, March 4, 2018

Get Into Your What, Billy Ocean?

Here's an exchange that does not sound sketchy in any way whatsoever:
Billy Ocean: Hey (hey), you (you) ... get into my car!
Random Back-up Singer: Who me?
Billy Ocean: Yes you! Get into my car! Ohhhhhhh ... Aah! Hey!
What could possibly go wrong?

And so it is that the Summer of '88 can arguably lay claim to the "rapiest" pop song of all time. To be fair, we never find out just what occurs after Billy makes his questionable proposition. Perhaps the object of his affection climbs into his automobile, perhaps she simply ignores him, perhaps she calls the cops ... who can say? He's simply conjuring a hypothetical scenario here. We never discover if she actually gets into the titular car. Although the details are impressively vague, you have to admit he delivers a pretty tempting sales pitch. He'll be the sun shining on you? I'd take that. He'll be your non-stop lover, get it while you can? You'd have to be a fool to turn that down, an utter fool. He expresses, with confidence, that he is her "man," and having just met her five minutes ago, he certainly would know. Remember my (semi-retired) term Cosby Rock? I think "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" really might be Cosby Rock.

Let's back up a moment. Say you're the super-producer behind AC/DC, Def Leppard, the Cars, and other legendary '80s hard rock titans. What do you do next? Why, team up with Billy Ocean, of course! Yes, "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" was co-written and produced by the one and only Robert John "Mutt" Lange, though I'm guessing that, these days, he leaves this one off his resume. According to Wikipedia, the track was "based on a line in the Sherman Brothers' song (famously covered by Johnny Burnette as well as Ringo Starr) 'You're Sixteen.' " Of course, rockabilly heartthrob Johnny Burnette singing "You're sixteen, you're beautiful, and you're mine" doesn't quite give off the same Humbert Humbert alarm bells as a bearded, 33-year-old Ringo doing the same, but hey, no one tells Ringo Starr what to sing and what not to sing, OK? It seems like one particularly goofy revision of Ringo's served as the direct inspiration for Messrs. Ocean and Lange: Whereas Johnny Burnette crooned "You walked out of my dreams/Into my arms," a presumably inebriated Ringo Starr gave it the nonsensical twist "You walked out of my dreams/And into my car." And they say Ringo's solo career wasn't influential.

Now fast-forward a bit. You're a big time Hollywood studio executive, you've got a movie in the pipeline starring the two Coreys called License to Drive. You need a song for the soundtrack, but so far, your ideas just aren't cutting it. Suddenly you hear an advanced pressing of Billy Ocean's hot new single. Why, it's a match made in heaven! He's singing "Get into my car." License to drive. BOOM. You can finally afford that condo in Pacific Palisades.

All right, so the lyrics don't quite carry the same tone of playful jouissance these days as they probably did back in 1988, but honestly, has sexual assault ever sounded like such a blast? How about the little breakdown at the three minute mark, where Billy and his fellow band of merry would-be felons engage in a "What'd I Say"-style call and response bit ("I said open the door!" "Get in the back!" "Foot on the floor!" "Get on the track!" "Yeah." "Yeah!" "Yeah." "Yeah!" "Hey." "Hey!" "Hey - Let's go!"), followed by the inevitable sax solo? Or the psychedelic haze of vocal effects at 3:45 that precedes the equally inevitable Totally Unnecessary Key Change (TM)? What are you waiting for baby? Get into the dude's car already!

If anyone out there was doubting Billy Ocean's true PG intentions, one only need watch the video. Billy pulls up to a car wash, but there's just one catch: he's in a convertible! Do you know what happens if you drive a convertible into a car wash? Some crazy shit, that's what happens. True, he pulls the top down, but he appears to leave the windows open for some undisclosed reason. Once in the magical car wash, Billy's white Porsche transforms into several different makes and models of various cars in various colors. Suddenly ... cartoon water rises up over Billy's head! Not just any water, but cartoon water. He holds his nose for about five seconds, but then lets go and starts singing, as if he wasn't really underwater at all. It's like he's driving through an ocean: a Billy Ocean. Once the chorus arrives, he proceeds to serenade an orange fish. Then, at 1:26, the purple duck appears. Yes, Billy's best friend in this video is a purple duck lugging a green ghetto blaster around on his shoulder. You know the type, always causing trouble.

It gets weirder. At 2:31, the three spheres on top of the gas pumps become sentient and join in on backing vocals. Then Billy whisks his girl to the drive-in, where the man up on the screen is ... Billy Ocean? And now he's wearing a giant white shirt that's like a trench coat, except it's not? And the purple duck jams away on the sax. (Side question: they had drive-in movie theaters in England?) Then, during the Totally Unnecessary Key Change, Billy steps out of the screen ... and onto the stage! It's like he's getting out of our dreams, and into our car. Sadly, his purple duck compadre remains trapped inside the screen, but hey, he must have known the deal when he signed up for this gig.

1 comment:

Herr Zrbo said...

Two thoughts: I'm glad you briefly mentioned near the end that Billy is British, because the entire time watching this video I'm thinking "he's driving on the wrong side, what gives?!"

Second, I wonder who directed this video because it has shades of Janet Jackson's videos for "When I think of you" and "What have you done for me lately" with this in-a-city-with-everyone-dancing-but-it's-obviously-filmed-on-a-set thing going on.