Ready for the '80s - Village People: Aside from the fact that it's virtually indistinguishable from any other Village People song, it's perhaps one of the saddest songs ever performed - unintentionally so. Just read the lyrics. (And fergawdsakes forgive the atrocious punctuation.) Ain't it so happy, peppy, and bursting with love and optimism for the future? Well, check this out. I doubt any Village People fan was ready for what the '80s were about to bring.
Gentleman Who Fell - Milla: That's model Milla Jovovich, y'all, at the ripe age of 16. With a gloriously untrained voice that swoops and whispers with trepidation to a man she can't catch. And yes, she wrote this (at least, in part), part of her only album, The Divine Comedy. A gorgeous, almost baroque arrangement that is essential listening for Jane Siberry and Kate Bush aficionados. And speaking of Jane Siberry...
Calling All Angels - Jane Siberry and k.d. lang: The best song off the Until The End Of The World soundtrack, itself an early '90s pre-Nirvana, pre-emo depressive classic. A slow funereal drum, pedal steel, and spare guitar plucking back these two chanteuses aching for aid and relief from above, "cause we're not sure how this goes." Who can't relate?
God Bless America - Kate Smith: There's good reason Kate Smith will always be linked with this song. You can just hear her heart swell with pride and unbridled patriotism, and it's impossible not to get caught up in it. She recorded many worthy versions, but this particular beauty was captured at Carnegie Hall in 1963, back when our nation was still brimming with optimism for the future and reveling in its post-war glory, mere days before JFK's assassination. It's a snapshot of simpler times, when it was still cool to be patriotic and have unshakeable faith that our country was on the right track. It's almost heartwrenching now to consider how far we've strayed from that moment. There was once a movement to make this song the national anthem. If they ever bring it back up, I'm in.
Dive In The Pool - Barry Harris and Pepper Mashay: Originally came out on the first Queer as Folk soundtrack back in 2001, and was therefore deemed worthy to pollute gay danceclubs nationwide for years thereafter. It tries to sound tribal, but fails miserably; how pathetic is it that Baltimora and Gloria Estefan sound more authentic? Includes the requisite black diva (with one of the worst drag names ever), here lamely howling at all the boys to dive in the pool and get soaking wet. Hoarksome. I defy you to listen to more than 30 seconds of this shite without banging your head against the wall, or at least shutting it off.