I was very lucky to grow up in a house where music was very important. Popular music has been a part of my life since I was a baby. As an infant, I hated sleeping and would cry when I was put in my crib, so my poor parents had to dance around the living room with me to get me to fall asleep. We boogied to Motown, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, reggae, the Fame soundtrack, and others. When I was a bit older, my mom and I used to listen to Purple Rain, the album that inspired Tipper Gore's infamous Senate hearings that led to the "Parental Advisory" sticker. When I was two, I used to carry around Temptations albums in lieu of a doll or a plush toy. My dad introduced me to the blues and classic rock, and I remember really liking Cream's psychedelic "SWLABR" because it had nonsense (drug-influenced) lyrics like "and the picture has a mustache" and "and the rainbow had a beard."
One of my earliest memories is riding on our old, wooden, rocking horse, listening to Chuck Berry while my mom was in the shower. When the record started skipping, I started to scream for my mother. She came running out of the bathroom, covered in soap, thinking that the house was on fire or I had fallen on my head.
I certainly had views of my own, but it wasn't until I began watching MTV at age four that I developed a taste for music that couldn't be found in my parents' record collection. The first album that anyone ever bought me was a 45 of David Lee Roth's "Just a Gigolo." I don't remember being a big David Lee Roth fan, and who would buy an song about gigolos for a four-year-old?
The first album I remember consciously asking my parents to buy for me was 1985's Boy in the Box by Corey Hart. Looking back, the music is mediocre at best, but Corey sure is cute. It's comforting to pull that old 33 off the shelf (I also own the cassette) and see that my taste in men hasn't changed much since I was four-years-old. Cute, short spiky hair, a bit of a rebel, and Canadian. You can't ask for much more.
Back then, when I had a crush on someone, I pretended to be him. We have a home video of me wearing a button-down shirt with one side un-tucked (apparently that was Corey's fashion statement), singing "Everything in My Heart." And my impersonation wasn't half-bad, if I do say so myself.
The key thing about Corey Hart that I captured in my impersonation is that he sounds like he isn't opening his mouth enough when he sings. He mumbles and reminds me of someone who has just had dental surgery. Also, the songs on this album all sound basically alike. They have that mid-'80s synthesized beat and are all the same medium tempo. The one standout is "Never Surrender" since Corey expresses a bit more feeling on that one, as he encourages us that:
no one can take away your right
to fight and to never surrender
It also features a cheesy guitar solo that breaks up the monotony.
"Boy in the Box," "Komrade Kiev," "Sunny Place-Shady People," "Waiting for You," and "Eurasian Eyes," are all very non-descript. Any of these songs could be played during the credits of a bad '80s movie. "Water From the Moon" reminds me of a bad Sting impersonation.
"Everything in my Heart" is a bland, love song, but I find it pleasant due to the nostalgia value. It is very repetitive, but its structure builds up to a catchy chorus that you might find yourself singing along with. Like "Never Surrender," this one has a basic guitar solo in the middle. But could the lyrics be any less original?
and sometimes when my heart is so cold
and you cut me out and you're so hard to hold
"Silent Talking" is a bit faster and more urgent-sounding with a more screaming guitar. It's about playing head games and not being able to figure out what the other person wants. At times, he sounds genuinely frustrated.
I don't understand what you're after
Overall, the lyrics, if you can understand them despite the mumbling, are mostly generic and/or vague. For instance, from "Waiting for You":
You're not alone
I'm right beside you
And all you have to do is call me, call me
No wonder it appealed to a four-year-old! In fact, I must have liked this album a bit too much because, listening to it right now, it sounds like I'm listening to it on a Walkman with dead batteries because it's worn out.
The only song that has even remotely poignant lyrics is "Sunny Places-Shady People" with its political content:
Paint your freedom in white on white
They're singing hymns of peace and liberty
Are we the fools of equality?
However, the boring melody of that song makes it immediately forgettable.
My bottom line is a bit misleading because, unfortunately, this album does not feature my favorite Corey Hart song, "Sunglasses at Night." That one was on 1983's First Offense. However, I find that line particularly apt and hilarious. Plus, it's just common sense, eh? ;)
Thanks for lambchops for hosting this reminiscence write-off.