First of all, credit where credit ‘s due: the Dark Side of Lite FM is the brainbaby of my friend Edward Julian O’Hara Bonilla. Dude is a pop music genius the likes of which has only graced this beautiful world a handful of times. He’s the true arbiter of what is and what isn’t DSLFM, and he’s an ornery bastard, so he’s probably going to find this playlist and the accompanying analysis idiotic and way off base, but still: this one’s for you, Eeje.
The concept of cool that was manufactured by the Punk “movement” did some weirdass things to music criticism and to pop music in general. Punk threw a clusterbomb of contradictions into the heart of cultural discourse by claiming that it was divorced from the influence of that which came before while being heavily derived from the roots of rock ‘n’ roll and by saying that it was anti-consumerist and anti-pop. In reality, there’s virtually nothing poppier than punk: two minute infectious verse-chorus-verse missives that fill teenagers with the desire to throw themselves at each other? Yeah.
Accompanying this was the idea of “effortless cool;” the jaded irreverence and slick cynicism that can only be perfected by those who haven’t really experienced all that much. Anybody caught trying to do anything besides trying to look like they’re not trying was excommunicated from the church of cool. Roxy Music, Fleetwood Mac and ELO were demonized for their ambition and sincerity.
These days, those bands are regarded as the awesome they were, and in these post-ironic times, sincerity has crawled its way back into the indie mainstream. But there were a lot of groups and artists in the ’70s and ’80s just weren’t interested in screwing around with the punk conception of cool, folks that weren’t ashamed of excess or mushiness. You still find these songs on easy listening radio in dentists offices and cluttering up the jukeboxes of “Old Man Bars” (as people who don’t actually know what dive bars are have taken to calling dives); these slickly produced, sometimes saccharine tunes that seem to lack any sense of self-awareness or meaning. Until, you know, you listen to them. Whether it’s Gilbert O’ Sullivan’s flirtations with suicide, 10cc satirizing the concept of love, Peter Gabriel condemning the murder of Steven Biko by the South African government, or Don Henley painting a horrifying portrait of news media, we find a grimness and feeling that outpunks the headiest Minor Threat 7″. This is music that’s not afraid of being uncool, and as a result, it goes deep into understanding the gamut of human emotions. This, ladies and gents, is the Dark Side of Lite FM.
1. Sister Golden Hair – America
2. Hello It’s Me – Todd Rundgren
3. Don’t Answer Me – The Alan Parsons Project
4. I’m Not In Love – 10cc
5. Eminence Front – The Who
6. Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song) – Billy Joel
7. Logical Song – Supertramp
8. Dirty Laundry – Don Henley
9. Life’s What You Make It – Talk Talk
10. Broken Wings – Mr. Mister
11. Don’t Dream It’s Over – Crowded House
12. Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O’Sullivan
13. Mind Games – John Lennon
14. Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty
15. Biko – Peter Gabriel
16. Don’t Forget Me – Harry Nilsson
That’s it for this week, but be sure to leave any stray thoughts in the comments. What are your favorite DSLFM songs that we missed? Why does this playlist not have a single female voice on it? Isn’t that kinda weird? We certainly think so! Comment or hit up Simon Lazarus Vasta on Twitter @Hunter_S_Narc.
Tags: 10cc, alan parsons, america, Billy Joel, crowded house, don henley, gerry rafferty, gilbert o'sullivan, harry nilsson, John Lennon, mr. mister, now ta, NTTOD, peter gabriel, Playlist, Simon Lazarus Vasta, supertramp, talk talk, the who, todd rundgren
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