Tuesday, 22 March 2011

24: Boy Meets Girl, “Waiting for a Star To Fall” (no.9, 1988)

A husband-and-wife tale. A couple both personally and professionally, George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam had written and performed on some of the most joyous love songs of the mid 80s, including Deniece Williams’ big Footloose hit “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”; it was while attending a Houston concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles that the pair observed a falling star in the night sky (and no, not Whitney herself, this being a good 15 years before she discovered crack).

Merrill and Rubicam would offer Houston first dibs on the composition the sight inspired; she turned them down, as eventually would Belinda Carlisle, who recorded a demo version of “Waiting for a Star to Fall” for inclusion on her breakthrough solo album Heaven on Earth. Instead, the songwriters elected to do it themselves, and - even allowing for the inevitable 80s sax solo - there remains something touching, personal and heartfelt about “Star”; the little blonde girl in the video is Merrill and Rubicam’s very own daughter Hilary.

After turning up on the soundtrack of Three Men and a Little Lady (where, let’s face it, we didn’t have wait long for Messrs. Guttenberg, Danson and Selleck to fall), the song was reprocessed as cheese: by one-hit wonders Sunset Strippers (“Falling Stars”, no.3, 2005) and Cabin Crew (“Star to Fall”, no.4, 2005, which at least features a re-recorded Merrill vocal), in Australia by DJ Dan Winter (“Carry Your Heart”, 2007) and - with a degree of hipster savvy, fusing the original with Kim Carnes’ fellow flash-in-the-pan “Bette Davis Eyes” (no.10, 1981) - by Mylo for 2005’s “In My Arms”. As for Merrill and Rubicam, they divorced in 2000, but continue to work together professionally. Sometimes you catch a star; sometimes, you fumble it. Either way, the song - lustrous and golden - is pure pop stardust.

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