Sunday 28 January 2024

there’s a choice we’re making—we’re saving our own lives (11. 301)

Written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, organised by Harry Belafonte and produced and conducted by Quincy Jones, the supergroup USA (United Support of Artist) for Africa (inspired by Band Aid’s success from the year before) gathered at A&M studios in Hollywood on this day in 1985 to record the charity single. Over forty-five of America’s most popular musicians and celebrities, including Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, Bruce Springsteen and Dionne Warwick, were involved in the project with solos and as part of the chorus—with more than fifty turned away—arriving to be greeted by a delegation Stevie Wonder and Charles, who threatened the artists if the song wasn’t done in one take, the two blind men, would be everyone’s chauffeurs for that evening, and a note pinned to the studio door to please check their egos here. Released five weeks later on 7 March, the song raised over sixty-three million dollars that went directly to relief funds for areas hardest hit by the famine affecting the continent and continues contributions through charitable foundations and tribute renditions for other humanitarian crises and has gone on to become among the most popular and purchased commercial singles.

synchronoptica

one year ago: a match monopoly, going to Canossa plus the Ceremony of the Keys

two years ago: another NFT minting operation plus a video game game show

three years ago: the execution of a Scottish witch 

four years ago: the musical stylings of Rupa Sen, train headboards, American Type Founders plus more on manicules

five years ago: assorted links worth revisiting, WiFi names, yellow jackets and red scarves, Trump lifts sanctions against Russia, Casa Dรฉcor plus propaganda kimonos

Thursday 3 August 2023

music can be such a revelation (10. 923)

The artist Madonna achieved his first number one on the UK singles chart on this day in 1985 with her contribution to the sound track of Desperately Seeking Susan—the song not officially released in the US in order to not detract from sales of her Like a Virgin prelude “Crazy for You” nor given a proper music video, only a montage of scenes from the film that was nonetheless in heavy circulation on MTV. The movie’s director Susan Seidelman rejected Kelly McGillis, Melanie Griffith and Diane Keaton for the title role and cast Madonna (also launching the careers of co-stars Aiden Quinn and Rosanna Arquette) after an encounter in the “downtown music scene” with the artist offering her song for a disco scene shot in the Manhattan Danceteria nightclub.

synchronoptica

one year ago:  the Disposition of Christ plus Tears for Fears

two years ago: waggling the dog, the first email in Germany (1984), reimagined, retro social platforms plus the movie posters of Richard Amsel

three years ago: Joe Columbo’s Chair Universal,  Prussia—Borussia plus the photography of Alberto Lenardo

four years ago: a Jugenstil and Art Deco exhibit, Poolside FM, Every Noise at Once, precision taping plus a trip to the Black Moor

five years ago: photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White,  prescient warnings about global warming plus the cult of Q-Anon

Sunday 23 July 2023

drive (10. 902)

Released on this day as the lead single from The Cars’ fifth studio album Heartbeat City (b-side, “My Best Friend’s Girl, the record also including the tracks “Just What I Needed,” “Hello Again,” “Magic,” and “You Might Think”) on this day in 1984 and was an instant top-charting song in almost all markets, reaching the top-ten again a year later when the band performed at Live Aid, the ballad also used as background music for a photomontage of the famine in Ethiopia (“You can’t go on thinking nothing’s wrong”) introduced by David Bowie. The accompanying music video was directed by actor Timothy Hutton and introduces model and writer Paulina Porizkova, who would later become co-vocalist Ric Ocasek’s wife, her profile heightened thanks in part to an appearance on Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes, a talk show that aired on MTV for the network’s first couple of years. Warhol directed the music video for “Hello Again” for Ocasek and made a cameo appearance as a bartender.

Thursday 29 June 2023

south america! (10. 842)

Originally planned as a live satellite simulcast for the iconic duo but abandoned once it was realised there would be a split-second delay and would necessitate one to lip-sync the part (which neither was having), David Bowie and Mick Jagger recorded a cover version of Martha and the Vandellas 1964 hit and civil rights anthem on this day in 1985. Charting in the UK and reaching number one on the US Billboard Hot 100—Jagger’s only song to reach that height and Bowie’s last, remarkably, incredulously, and proceeds went to the charity Live Aid for famine relief. The accompanying video by David Mallet was shot after the marathon recording session—both track and music video were completed within thirteen hours during the short time that the artists had for the duet, and was filmed at the derelict Millennium Mills, a flour processing plant built at the turn of the century, in the London docklands.

synchronoptica 

one year ago: Samantha Reed Smith visits the Soviet Union at the personal invitation of the General Secretary (1983) 

two years ago: the cartoonist T Hee plus van Gogh’s bridge in Arles

three years ago: Quo Vadis, the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, the debut of the iPhone (2007), more Old School blogging, unusual cereal flavours plus chiptune trains

four years ago: a Disney heiress petitions for better treatment of workers plus BC/AD or Common Era

five years ago: the European Union flag adopted (1985) plus Trump’s Supreme Court

Thursday 15 June 2023

danaรซ (10. 809)

Seriously damaged during an act of vandalism on this day in 1985 in its home at the Hermitage in St Petersburg but fully brought back after over a decade of careful restoration, the work by Rembrandt (previously) features a life-sized depiction of the mother of Perseus, presumably when Zeus transformed “himself into a shower of gold and visited her—visited her and loved her,” the Argive princess locked away in resplendent but isolating chamber with no entrance or egress, save a skylight, to prevent a prophesy delivered to her father King Acrisius that his grandson would kill him, ultimately unable to thwart his fate when at a homecoming games celebrated for the demigod’s triumphs, he accidentally strikes Acrisius in the head when throwing a discus. Originally executed in 1536, the artist undertook some major revisions to the monumental piece, scaling down the canvas to make it more marketable, too big for all but the grandest of settings at two-and-a-half by three metres, and changing the face from its original model’s likeness, Saskia van Uylenburgh, his wife, to that of Geertje Dircx, his son’s caretaker and mistress.

Thursday 11 May 2023

boulevard of broken dreams (10. 732)

Via Miss Cellania, sort of in the same vein as those ubiquitous posters of nail salons, we take a deep dive into the equally omnipresent cafe and restaurant mural featuring variations on the fantasy gathering of celebrities—the usual suspects being Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, James Dean and Humphrey Bogart when an artist called Gottfried Helnwein, best known for album covers, created a homage to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks in 1985. The mass-reproduced piece, intended as a bit of humour, took on a life of its own with other painters taking up the trope of the ‘Fakehawk’ foursome in different settings that do not only echo a singular facet of Hollywood nostalgia but also serves as activity placemats for adults with meaning to decode and hidden Easter Eggs embedded in the backdrop. More from Ryan H Walsh for The Believer at the link above.

Thursday 2 March 2023

fuga dal bronx (10. 582)

First given the MST3K treatment on this day back in 1996, the 1985 apocalyptic film by Enzo Castellari (also creator of the 1978 film movie The Inglorious Bastards, Quel maledetto treno blindato—“That Damned Armoured Train,” a remake inspired from The Dirty Dozen but only an inspiration in for the title of the similarly named Quentin Tarantino film which is not a remake but does have a cameo of Castellari as a Nazi general) was also released under the title Escape 2000 and chronicles the resistance of the residents of the New York borough, a dystopian wasteland to sinister property developer, General Construction Corporation, and their plans to drive out the present population and build a futuristic city in its place.

Sunday 5 February 2023

a piece of the rock (10. 525)

Closed since 1969 after the near unanimous results of a referendum not to become a condominium shared with the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (the Gibraltarians much more partial to self-determination than either alternative), the border between Gibraltar and Spain was fully reopened on this day in 1985, effectively ending a decades-long embargo that restricted freight, postal and communication links and ocean-going traffic as well—the concession made as part of Spain’s admission into the European Community.

Saturday 31 December 2022

implants—those aren’t your memories, they’re someone else’s—they’re tyrell’s niece’s (10. 377)

Courtesy of Super Punch, we learn that the publisher of the 1985 video game for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum home computing systems loosely based on the 1982 film was unable to obtain a tie-in licensing deal and so declared that it was inspired by the Vangelis soundtrack instead—obliging players to listen to an unskippable opening sequence of two minutes of tinny, MIDI music. Gaming reviews were mostly unfavourable, calling it derivative of the hit adaption of Ghostbusters! from the year before.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

hunting high and low (10. 238)

The first Norwegian group to do so, A-Ha's signature single—see previously—topped the US Billboard’s Hot 100 first on this day in 1985, remaining in the rankings for a total of twenty-seven weeks, following success in the UK charts and the release of the accompanying music video the most prior. This second, more recognisable rotoscoped music video (the first from 1984 only features the band performing in front of a blue background) illustrates the romantic, plaintive narrative of a comic book hero coming to life and was directed by Steve Barron, whose other credits include “Billie Jean,” “Money for Nothing,” “Africa,” and “Don’t You Want Me Baby,” winning multiple awards.

Friday 16 September 2022

hounds of love (10. 138)

Including the lead single “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” and a comeback after her less successful previous album from three years earlier, Kate Bush’s fifth studio album was released on this day in 1985. Considered by some fans and critics to be her best work, it has been the recipient of contemporary and retrospective acclaim and a certified double-platinum record. A promotional twenty-minute-long laserdisc with four music videos, called The Hair of the Hound, was issued as well.

Wednesday 7 September 2022

i can see a new horizon underneath the blazing sky (10. 114)

Hitting number one on US charts on this day in 1985 and holding that top position for two weeks, the hit by John Parr for Joel Schumacher’s film of the same name was created and edited in the space of one day. Struggling to find inspiration for the lyrics, Parr and co-writer David Foster were taken by the story of an athlete, Canadian track and field athlete Rick Hansen, and his undertaking to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries—his “Man in Motion Tour” and quickly came up with a song that squared with the movie while directly referencing Hansen. The musical ensemble includes members from the bands Mr Mister, REO Speedwagon and Toto.

Thursday 1 September 2022

a second-hand emotion (10. 102)

Originally written for Cliff Richard and offered to Phyllis Hyman and Donna Summer, Tina Turner’s rendition of the song, released as the lead single on the first of May from her solo album Private Dancer, climbed to the top of the charts in America on this day in 1984, holding the number one spot for three weeks, becoming the second biggest song of the year (number one was “When Doves Cry” by Prince) and garnering three awards at the 1985 Grammies. In addition to its inclusion on the soundtrack of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, it is the namesake of Turner’s 1993 biography. Not surpassed until 1999 with Cher’s scoring a number one hit with “Believe,” Turner, then forty-four-year-old, held the record for oldest female singer to make this accomplishment on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Wednesday 3 August 2022

primal therapy or songs from the big chair (10. 034)

Via our faithful chronicler not only do we learn that on this day in 1985, Tears for Fears attained the top of US charts for a second time with Shout, moreover we discover that the title squares with the duo’s affinity for psychologist Arthur Janov (though also meant as a statement in support of protests during the Cold War) and his school of thought that posits that repressed pain of childhood trauma results in neuroses and can be exorcised by re-experiencing them in a fashion less cerebral and re-packaged and rather more immediate than in traditional talking sessions. Originally billed as the History of Headaches, the band learned about this form of psychotherapy which gained public attention when John Lennon endorsed it and renamed themselves after a dictum elaborated on in Janov’s book Prisoners of Pain.

Sunday 31 July 2022

i’m thrown and overblown with bliss (10. 026)

The follow-up single from their fifth studio album, Be Yourself Tonight—featuring a harmonica interlude by Stevie Wonder (previously)—the Eurythmics’ “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)” charted at number one in the US for the first time on this day in 1985. Surprisingly the British duo’s only such achievement in America and the UK, it was an international success and inspired several cover versions. Featuring themes inspired by USO tours and World War II R&R programmes, the accompanying music video (created some six years later) was filmed in Berlin-Spandau’s Gatow Airfield.

Thursday 9 June 2022

7x7

null island: errant data lands at this imaginary place at the intersection of the equator and the prime meridian (see also)

miscellany № 95: assorted links from Shady Characters, including some emoji code for illicit drugs  

fairlight synths: Kate Bush rediscovered by new audiences with her 1985 hit “Running Up That Hill”—previously  

mullet sneakers: for mental health 

¶ the encyclopedia of light is a curious mode of escape:the strike-through as a form of shadow writing, contextual undoing  

linkroll: your friendly reminder to pay a visit to the cabinet of hypertext curiosities of the illustrious Mx van Hoorn—previously 

terra nullus: a tour of ten off-limits places

Wednesday 8 June 2022

help me make the most of freedom and of pleasure

Peaking at the top of US charts on this day in 1985, the lead single from the new wave pop duo from Bath, Tears for Fears’, second studio album, Songs from the Big Chair, originally had the refrain “everybody wants to go to war” and the rather jaunty tune addresses the anxieties of every age with the struggle for dominance and corruption and the misery it brings. The music video features bassist and lead vocalist Curt Smith driving an antique Austin-Healey roadster through southern California. One headline, why believe it?

Tuesday 10 May 2022

und er lebt in der groรŸen stadt, es war in wien, war vienna wo er alles tat

The lead single from the artist’s third studio album with the eponymous title Falco 3 peaked on the UK charts on this day in 1986, holding top position for several weeks after hitting number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 at the end of March—still holding the sole German language title to have this achievement (99 Luftballons by Nena made it to the number two spot). Inspired by the popularity of the film Amadeus, the Neue Deutsche Welle number was initially released as an eight-minute version called the “Salieri Mix” before being trimmed to the more usual song length.

Saturday 23 April 2022

project kansas

Lingering until the summer of 2002 (see next) and suspected by some as a marketing ploy to boost sagging sales of its flagship beverage—reintroduced and rebranded as Coca-Cola Classic, the reformulated version, New Coke, was introduced on this day in 1985 to much derision—with production of the original production halted later the same week. Under the titular code name (having polled the demographic considered Middle America but failing to take into account nostalgia and the attachment to tradition), the secret project to launch a new flavour of soft-drink was in response to test marketing that suggested that palettes preferred sweeter tastes and Pepsi (see also) faring better in new markets. Despite the sustained backlash, the corporation continued with aggressive commercial campaigns, including bringing on spokesman Max Headroom (previously—caution, flashing images) in 1986.

Saturday 26 February 2022

8x8

squirrel monkey: imagining Wordle vintage 1985—see also  

ะผะธัั‚ะตั†ั‚ะฒะพ: Ukrainian art community despairs as invasion advances

rumble: the overlooked musical virtuosity of Link Wray  

snake island: Ukrainian soldiers stand their ground and face off a battleship defending a military outpost on Zmiinyi, the rocky islet where Achilles was entombed 

regression to the mean: a spate of controversial laws passed in the US to curtail discussions in classroom that would make straight, white cis people uncomfortable (previously)

existential crisis: dread creeps into the everyday and makes it difficult to focus on what’s vital and the ultimately inconsequential  

ะฐั€ั…ั–ั‚ะตะบั‚ัƒั€ะฝะพั—: Ukrainian designers and architects fight back against Russian incursion  

acrophobia: sociable early internet word game that solicited wrong answers only plus several contemporaries