Sunday, April 1, 2018

"Hungry Eyes" And Saxophone Thighs AKA Eric Carmen Loses Control, Wins "Poofiest '80s Hair" Prize

Though my Cheesy '80s Nostalgia Club membership card might be revoked by this admission, I have never seen, nor have I ever been particularly inclined to watch, Dirty Dancing. It's a ... what's the word? What do they call 'em? It's a ... CHICK FLICK. That's what it is. I knew the word would come to me eventually. And if anyone ever gives me a hard time for refusing to see it, I'll just tell them sassily, "Nobody puts Little Earl in a corner."

Sure, I enjoyed "I've Had the Time of My Life" when I was a youth, but now I just associate it with the kind of people who like Dirty Dancing. I mean, I'm not one of those people. I only like cheesy '80s music, not cheesy '80s movies. Jeez. Also, throughout the Summer of '88, I remember hearing the Top 40 station play this uptempo dance song, "Do You Love Me?," by some group called the Contours, and I thought it sounded slightly odd and out of step with the other hits of the era, without knowing quite why.

Another fact that escaped me at the time was that "She's Like the Wind" was not sung by some random generic pop singer, but by ... wait, really? That was Patrick Swayze? Singing? You might as well have told me that Jennifer Beals actually sang "Flashdance ... What a Feeling." Let's face it: he's not half-bad! I mean, he's not amazing. He's bland, but he's not any less bland than his '80s Top 40 contemporaries - a small victory of sorts for all you actors/secretly aspiring singers everywhere. More impressive is the fact that he co-wrote the song. And how would you like to be Wendy Fraser? Your biggest taste of fame was being "featured" on a Patrick Swayze single? Guess she'll take it.

But enough of that guy. Eric Carmen's got something to tell you. He's got this feelin' that won't subside. He looks at you and he fantasizes. I've got a question. What the fuck are "hungry eyes"? I didn't realize that eyes needed sustenance. I'm pretty sure that the "appetite" of a person's eyes, if such a desire existed, would hardly vary from one moment to the next. I mean, if someone could have "hungry eyes," then could they have "stuffed" eyes? Eyes that wouldn't even have room for one more thin mint wafer? And how exactly does one feed "hungry" eyes? With eye droplets? Take your eyes to Taco Bell? What happens if your eyes get hungry at 3:00 a.m.? Well, Jack In The Box is open all night I guess.

In 1987, the biological impracticalities of ocular nutrition were probably the last thing on Eric Carmen's mind; he just wanted a hit. You see, back in the man's younger days (i.e. 1972), Carmen was like a tougher, harder-rocking version of Paul McCartney. If anyone out there comes across a more perfect (or lustier) '70s pop song than the Raspberries' "Go All the Way," please send it to me. However, it turns out that, when he sang "Go All the Way," what he actually meant was, "Go all the way ... into shameless pop schmaltz." Sure, everyone's allowed a little artistic license here and there, and you can't expect a guy to repeat himself his whole career, but ... "All By Myself"? It's like he concluded that he was ripping off the wrong McCartney. Instead of ripping off rocking McCartney, he needed to rip off wimpy McCartney! Because nothing screams out "hit song" like Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2. Don't wanna be "all by [yourself] anymore"? Then why did you leave the Raspberries, buddy? Or maybe they left him - and judging by "All By Myself," one might understand why. And so Eric McCartmen continued to churn out a string of borderline Yacht Rock singles throughout the late '70s. By 1987, the guy was so washed up that he was starting to become an environmental beach hazard to seagulls, like those little plastic six-pack rings. Ah, but as with so many other singers who found themselves stranded on the Island of '70s Pop Has-Beens, a film soundtrack finally sailed to Carmen's rescue.

The list of sleazy '80s hits is a long one, but "Hungry Eyes" may very well be the sleaziest of the sleaziest. There's something about the syrupy combo of synthesized bass line, imitation vibraphone, and Rafferty-tastic sax solo that makes me feel like I just left a strip club that closes at 4:00 a.m. - and stumbled into the strip club across the street that closes at 5:00 a.m. The lyrics are voyeuristic and pervy and not particularly ashamed of it. And the video. Sweet Jesus, the video. Check out our man Eric at the commencement, lounging back in a dark warehouse, getting off on Dirty Dancing footage. The reel winds through the projector to its conclusion. He needs a new distraction. He begins dreaming of a sultry model in a low-cut dress, picking flowers. Then she's suddenly being projected onto the wall ... no, wait, she's there in the flesh, moving closer to Eric! Is she ... real? She brushes his cheeks with her hands. If looks could talk, Eric's stunned reaction at 0:58 would say, "Whoa. Dude. Who was that?" He pulls a Keanu. She walks away, turns around, and then she ... disappears! She's a ghost, Eric. You've got the hots for a ghost. I hate to break it to you, but those hungry eyes are going to need to find a more corporeal meal.

At around 1:57, Ghost Babe suddenly reappears in a blue-tinted rain forest wearing a new gold (but equally low-cut) dress. At 2:46, we realize that, not only is she a sexy Ghost Babe, but she can play a mean sax! There's one final twist. Eric sits down at an outdoor cafe and sees Ghost Babe leaning against a building, her glove-encased arms wrapped around a rather un-photogenic fellow who looks like he just forked over an impressive sum of money to be with her. He turns his head to kiss her, and when he turns back around, Ghost Babe is suddenly ... some Asian chick? I'm telling you man, too many lonely nights watching Dirty Dancing in a dark warehouse can take you to some weird places. Luis Bunuel, eat your heart out. Favorite YouTube comments:
Jeez that girl can blow a horn...

You know shlt gets serious when babe busts out the saxophone.

i dont think the lady playing the saxophone was the in studio performer

it may be just me but it does not look like that chick is actually playing that sax

she could've at least moved her fingers hahaha

Amazng that she can change the notes of the saxophone just by swaying to the tune without changing her fingering

Every woman in the world young or old should be offered the opportunity to look like they are playing a saxophone to this song with a city night green screen!

director: "you know what guys, let's have the model do the sax solo, why the hell not? And we'll shoot upskirt to distract everyone from how absurd it is, even in 1987."

This song has to be inspired by the way my uncle's dog looks at me while eating pizza.

I get weird looks in the bakery when I sing this to donuts. I don't care, it's how I feel.

I didn't know Robert Downy Jr. had such a great voice.

I want to hear this song covered by Eric Cartman.

this song makes me think of cannibalism. I can picture a serial killer playing this song while he devours human flesh. it's creepy.
Well, when you're hot, you're hot, and Carmen didn't pussyfoot around. Though "Make Me Lose Control" followed "Hungry Eyes" by mere months, apparently someone had fed the Chia Pet on his head in the meantime. It's like a whole new 'do - or two of them! The song's main bass-and-piano riff is like a shameless cross between the chord progression from "Twist and Shout" and the bossa nova rhythm from "Under the Boardwalk," with a chorus that pays homage to (rips off?) the Righteous Brothers' "You're My Soul and My Heart's Inspiration." As I understand it, Mike Love, I assume fresh from a late night "Kokomo" recording session, also makes an appearance on backing vocals, giving the tune some much-needed "shameless pseudo-Happy Days Baby Boomer pandering" cred. Of course, nothing compliments '50s rock 'n' roll nostalgia like ... glossy '80s production! And we know how all those classic oldies always featured a tight a capella rendering of the chorus followed by ... heavily phased supersonic turbo-powered studio effects (at 4:06). Take it away, YouTubers:
He lost control of that

Dude has a serious case of Lady Hair! And spray tan was not even invented yet.

No chick wants a dude with better hair than her !

I bet that hair can cure cancer.

That hair style alone caused the ozone layer to be depleted by 1% that year.

Yeah I think if Eddie Money & Richard Marx's mullets had gotten together & also gotten it on, Eric Carmen's hairdo is what their baby would look like. Haha.

he looks a little bit like Billy Joel with Tina Turners wig

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This song always sounded to me like a throwaway from John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown band. Also at this point in time, Eric Carmen was physically indistinguishable from Rainbow's Joe Lynn Turner.