Thursday, 28 April 2011

2: Animotion, “Obsession” (no.5, 1985)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the BIGGEST SYNTHS IN THE WORLD; synths played by GIANTS, standing ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS, standing on GIANT BLOCKS OF CHEESE. And lest anyone should turn their noses up at the presence or scale of said cheese, let me remind you this is, after all, a one-hit wonders list. Would you really want cheese - the most suspicious of all foodstuffs, being essentially (the already fairly suspect) milk gone wrong - hanging around in your life any longer than three minutes and 58 seconds?

A cover of a song first heard in the 1983 Lesley Ann Warren vehicle A Night in Heaven (nope, me neither), “Obsession” has become a mainstay on soundtracks of its own in recent years - those of Adventureland and Hot Tub Time Machine, to name but two - and it strikes me that if we are now going to revive the 80s sound, it should be this 80s sound, and not the weedy synths of Yazoo or the poseur synths of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet: big and bold, caring not one iota whether it’s cool or not, where the primary colours evident in the orchestration don’t entirely knock out the darkness lurking in the lyrical shadows.

And as its title may suggest, there is surely darkness between those power chords, although - cleverly - the creepy undertones of obsession and possession (perhaps inspired by John Fowles’ novel “The Collector”, hence the butterfly references) are warded off by staging the song as a male-female duet: in this tale, the singers are as crazed as one another. (But - hey - that’s love for you.) Special mention to some typically polished production, which helps us overlook any banality in the lyrics (“My fantasy has turned to madness/And now my goodness has turned to badness” - inspired, that); further confirmation of “Obsession”’s position in the all-time pop pantheon came with a Sugababes cover - this being back in the day, when the Sugababes were still the Sugababes (and not the lo-cal alternative Splendababes) and thus capable of fostering an obsession all their very own.

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