THIS RANT 18/05/98
Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.
How the New Weekly betrayed the 80s
Like many obsessives, I was highly pleased I saw that the New Weekly had put out a special 'Back to the '80s' issue last week. Sure, it was just a cheap Wedding Singer cash-in, but anything that gets a photo of Boy George in full 'Karma Chameleon'-era gear on the front cover has to be worth something. Or so I thought, until I bought the issue.
Let me list the good points first. There are some truly spectacular pictures of some major (and minor) 80s acts. Along the bottom of the page there's one of those "can you pick the song from the lyric" quizzes, which appears to have been ripped straight off the Net but is nontheless amusing. And finally, the magazine describes the '80s as "the coolest decade ever", which can't be a bad thing.
However, these plusses are offset by a number of major problems:
- The coverage is entirely inconsistent. Some acts get entire two-page spreads with actual interviews, others just get a little poorly-informed speculation. It looks like the magazine just bought up the rights to a few major interviews (the text about Andrew Ridgeley is lifted straight from a Hello! magazine piece last year) and then decided to pad them out, rather than actually settling on a proper model for the feature.
- Adding to that problem, some important acts are entirely ignored. How can you do a feature on the '80s and not cover Duran Duran? Or Madonna, come to that? Sure, she doesn't qualify for a "where are they now?" angle, but she was a bit too big in the decade not to get some coverage. This is doubly galling when some of the featured acts don't actually belong in the '80s at all (see below).
- Worst of all, the feature is riddled with factual errors, getting names of songs, dates, places and other details entirely wrong.
Of course, I'm an admitted '80s freak, but even so, it would only have taken some very basic research to avoid most of the errors. Here's all the ones I've been able to find:
- The piece on Scott Baio totally fails to mention Charles In Charge, which took up of the bulk of the '80s for him, running from 1984 to 1990.
- The Blakeney Twins were around in the '80s, but mainly in their roles as singers for the Monitors and hosts of Wombat. Their UK musical career, which is what is dissected here, didn't begin until 1991.
- "The last newspaper cutting on Howard Jones dates back more than a decade . . . " begins the Jones entry. We assume they mean the last newspaper cutting they could find in the ACP press library, which is not quite the same thing, but explains how they get so many subsequent facts wrong. 'No-One Is To Blame' was NOT Howard Jones' last hit single. It was followed by another four minor chart hits in the UK, while in the US he managed another three Top 40 hits through until 1992. The magazine also mentions his vegetarian restaurant in New York, but fails to point out that this burned down within 12 months of its original opening.
- The magazine has a picture of New Kids On The Block singer Jordan Knight captioned as Danny Woods.
- The discussion of Rick Astley's career claims that the hits dried up as soon as he ditched Stock-Aitken-Waterman. In fact, his 1991 album Free produced 'Cry For Help', a top 10 hit in both the US and the UK.
- Toni Basil's video album for Word Of Mouth, from whence 'Mickey' sprang, was made before the album itself was released, not afterwards, as the magazine claims.
- The interview with Marilyn basically skips everything that happened to him between early 1984 and the present day. Boy George's autobiography Take It Like A Man is much more comprehensive on this topic.
- The Nik Kershaw entry at least gets the basic dates right, but claims that Nik now works as a producer. Well, yes, he does, but he's also just recorded an album and is currently shopping around for a label. And might the fact that he wrote Chesney Hawkes' UK #1 'The One And Only' also be worth a mention?
- Vanilla Ice was not an 80s artist; his first hit, 'Ice Ice Baby', came out in late 1990.
- The Jon Cryer entry talks about his failed TV series but doesn't mention Partners, which actually screened in Australia on Channel 10.
- The magazine claims that Simple Minds were "arguably the most successful group of the '80s". Very arguable, I'd have thought. U2? Duran Duran? Wham!? They also claim the band has all of its original members, which is bollocks -- the group slimmed down to just including Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill in the early 90s, and has only recently been rejoined by two other members, drummer Mel Gaynor and bassist Derek Forbes. Mike Ogiltree is nowhere to be seen.
- The entry on the Young Ones makes no mention whatsoever of Christopher Ryan, who continues working as an actor in the UK.
Doubtless there are more, I got dispirited looking up these ones. Overall, just not good enough. I may even be forced to write to the magazine and complain.
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