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Jeff Wilkin's Type A To Z
by Jeff Wilkin

Type A To Z

A Daily Gazette life blog
Features reporter Jeff Wilkin on pop culture

Ooga Chaka, Ooga Chaka, Etc.

Pop culture maniacs say many things are cyclical — if something was cool once, it will be cool once again.

Movie monster Godzilla had been on the mat, as cooked as last Thanksgiving’s turkey. But a makeover and a new film made the giant lizard bankable again.

Fedoras, thought tragically unhip for decades, are back in the stores. The thin-brimmed hats seem more fun and funky than their giant-sized counterparts from the 1960s.

But music — I’m hoping, praying and pleading the pop culture gods do not resurrect the corny, twangy, sappy songs from the 1970s.

If “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a hit, we may drown in a tidal wave of bad-time tunes. The heavily promoted space movie opens Friday, and one of the gags is one of the lead characters — a transplanted Earth dude named “Star-Lord” — is a big fan of 1970s songs. He’s got them on a cassette tape —”Awesome Mix Vol. 1” — and they keep him connected to his home planet.

The gag goes a little farther, a little deeper. Seems the tape was owned by “Star-Lord’s” mother. And she’s no longer around.

Had I known “Star-Lord’s” mother during the ’70s, I would have made sure she listened to the true favorites of the day: Emerson, Lake & Palmer! Yes! Kansas! Foghat! Jethro Tull! Even ... Grand Funk!

But "Star-Lord’s" mom’s favorites included the obnoxious “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede — people who hate the ’70s remember the odd “Ooga chaka, ooga chaka” intro; the sappy “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” by Elvin Bishop; the syrupy-sweet “I’m Not in Love” by 10cc; and the twangy “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone.

But the worst is yet to come. The “Guardians” soundtrack also includes one of the two, all-time, horrid, fingernails-on-the-chalkboard, run away screaming, puke-as-you-listen songs of all time. You’ve probably already guessed —it’s “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes.

Remember? It’s just gruesome. Lovesick dude — lovesick MARRIED dude — reads an advertisement from a woman looking for a little action on the side. The successful applicant must like piña coladas ... and getting caught in the rain. “If you’re not into yoga, if you have half-a-brain; If you like making love at midnight ... in the dunes of the cape; I’m the lady you’ve looked for, write to me and escape.”

Hurts just to type those lyrics. Anyway, the guy goes ... “to a bar called “O’Malley’s” ... and the cheater meets his wife, who has decided to cheat on her boring lug of a husband. Happy ending, endless refrains, excuse me, I have to throw up.

If this is one of “Star-Lord’s” faves, then he’s in trouble, his movie’s in trouble and we’re in trouble if people suddenly decide these tunes are hip again. I actually like a couple pieces on the “Awesome Mix” tape. The Raspberries’ energetic and suggestive “Go All the Way” is a positive nostalgic listen. And Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” is always good for some hippie rewind time. It’s far out, man.

And yeah, I know the corny songs have been tossed into the mix for fun. Director James Gunn is probably hoping for winces and smiles when old Rupert’s musical musings are heard in deep space.

But the total collection? “Bleeeaaaaahhh” as Snoopy used to say, in the “Peanuts” animated specials; I’m surprised K.C. & the Sunshine Band, the Captain and Tennille and the Starland Vocal Band didn’t show up. And thank the stars, Star-Lord, that disco music was also excluded.

Oh, and I mentioned two all-time, fingernails-puke songs — well, Sheena Easton has the other one, “Morning Train.” Simply vomitus, and the only song reporters and sportswriters at The Gazette’s old “Press Box” bar used to boycott when the song hit the jukebox at midnight. We’d just walk out of the bar for three minutes.

But “Morning Train” was really a 1980s monstrosity, so this “Guardians” movie will not touch it. Perhaps we should be concerned about the movie’s sequel, and a possible “Awesome Mix Vol. 2” that could feature Sheena, Men Without Hats and maybe some Wang Chung. There were plenty of lousy songs in the ’80s, too.

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August 18, 2014
7:09 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

You left out two Chicago ditties; THE EGG PLANT THAT ATE CHICAGO, and THE NIGHT CHICAGO DIED. I think record execs were trying so hard to kill Acid Rock, they'd release anything.

October 10, 2014
5:33 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

Yeah, Jim .... "Chicago" is also a grim listen ..... so was "Louie, Louie, Louie, Lou-EYE!" Whatever the hell that one was ......

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