(Originally published June 8, 2006)
MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. We are gathered here to tonight to settle, or attempt to settle, a vexing question that has plagued popular culture for at least 15 years: Which decade had the worst music, the 1970s or the 1980s?
With us, defending their respective decades is “’70s Gal,” here tonight dressed as Rhoda Morganstern, the witty neighbor/gal pal from “The Mary Tyler Moore” show; and “’80s Guy,” here tonight dressed as wisecracking and scheming teen Alex Keaton from “Family Ties.”
Let me remind our debaters that we are not weighing the relative merits of all music from each decade, but focusing only on the most vile and odious songs from each period. We will not tolerate any mock singing of bad songs from your opponents’ decade, nor derogatory comments about the artists’ families, hair styles or alleged sexuality. Miss ’70s, you may begin.
’70s GAL: Thank you. I think reasonable people can agree that one of the central hallmarks of bad music – really bad music, music that cannot even be redeemed for its kitsch value – is the kind of grotesque over-emoting that many of lesser contestants of “American Idol” insist on inflicting on America.
And, who, you may ask, is more responsible for unleashing that ghastly technique than any other single artist? That’s right, Whitney Houston, the quintessential ’80s diva whose success spawned Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Jessica Simpson and a lot more scary pop princesses I’m too decent to mention.
’80s GUY: I’m surprised someone from the ’70s knows the meaning of the word “decent.” Look folks, we all know that the ’70s were the era of bad clothes, bad hair and bad presidents, so it just goes to follow the music was bad too. Did you know the most popular album of the decade was the soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever”? Can you say, “Bee Gees”? Forgive me if there are children or heart patients in the house, but can you picture three guys singing disco in falsettos in tight white jumpsuits with their chest hair spilling out doing anything that could be considered positive?
’70s GAL: Oh, pul-eese. Next to Wham!, the Bee Gees looked like the Jefferson Airplane. The ’80s were the ’70s gone rotten. In my decade, Phil Collins was the drummer for Genesis, a pretty cool prog-rock band. In your decade, he turned into, ick, Phil Collins. I mean, “Sussudio”? What was that?
’80s GUY: I’ll tell you what it was, it was Beethoven’s Ninth compared to “Feelings,” “Billy, Don’t be a Hero” and “Muskrat Love,” which makes me want to shower just saying it. Why are we even discussing this? Has the world forgotten “The Pina Colada Song”?
’70s GAL: The bottom line is that American pop music has just gotten worse since Chuck Berry. The ’70s were worse, I’ll admit, than the ’60s. And the ’80s were worse yet. Look at Paul McCartney. In the ’60s, he was a Beatle. In my decade, he did “Band on the Run” and “Live and Let Die.” In your decade, he did “Ebony and Ivory” and “This Girl is Mine.”
’80s GUY: Two words: Barry Manilow.
’70s GAL: Hey, at least Manilow was honest. The ’80s were full of those bogus posers like Twisted Sister and Motley Crue. Gross.
’80s GUY: “Disco Duck.”
’70s GAL: “Everybody Wang Chung Tonight.”
’80s GUY: The Archies.
’70s GAL: Foul! The Archies were ’60s. Like “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and “In the Year 2525.”
’80s GUY: Ooooh, and Bobby Goldsboro and the Singing Nun? I vote the’60s as worse music ever.
’70s GAL: Yes, exactly. And you didn’t even mention “MacArthur Park.”
’70s GAL AND ’80s GUY (singing, in unison): “Someone left the cake out in the rain …”
MODERATOR: OK, OK, we have a winner.