Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blast from the Past: Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW)

Well, the weekend has come and gone already. For me, it started early--but painfully--when I was struck with a 102.6 fever on Thursday. I was sick all that day, followed by a wrung-out Friday. Saturday, I forced myself to do several chores around the house that were sorely needed. And today, I'm just enjoying a beautiful--though hot--Las Vegas afternoon, and damn it, it's a school night!

So, what's with Blast from the Past honoring a what. . .law firm? A stock trading company? An insurance broker? No, Stock Aitken Waterman was a music production team. They had a flurry of hits from the mid eighties to the early nineties. Some of their songs are fondly remembered, but their techniques, and much of their output is shunned by a lot of music fans. "Disposable" is what you'll hear from some people. And it's true, you could plug any artist from any SAW hit into a different one, and get essentially the same song.  Seriously, listen to the Donna Summer tune below, and imagine it with Rick Astley's voice. See what I mean?

But they were successful for quite a while, so it can't all be that bad, right?

1. Bananarama, Venus
2. Dead or Alive, You Spin Me 'Round (Like a Record)

3. Kylie Minogue, The Locomotion
4. Samantha Fox, I Only Wanna Be With You

5. Donna Summer, This Time I Know it's For Real
6. Rick Astley, Never Gonna Give You Up

And that's most of the big ones, but you get the idea. SAW made several songs with each of these artists, and many others to less acclaim. Every so often there are new hit factories, explosions of boy or girl bands, and other pop confections. There has been cheese and fakery almost as far back as the industry goes. And let's face it: those "alternative" groups people like my brother used to listen to (while snorting in derision at "pop" music) are now played alongside them on virtually any radio station that plays them at all. Oh, and probably advertising for Burger King.

That does it for me for this week. Have a great Monday, everyobody!


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