1983, Music

Sports (1983) by Huey Lewis and the News

Imagine recording a song denigrating no wave and new wave in New York and hair metal in Los Angeles (not that I care about the latter) and who knows what else, and celebrating the music of your youth instead – kids today! – but recording that song with terrible ’80s keyboards and a shitty heartbeat sound effect. (Adding to it the implicit “working class city” bias of celebrating the music of Detroit and Cleveland in the early 1980s over the music being made in NYC or LA.) This is your lead-track, a shot across the bow to all these new styles of music that just aren’t as good as the styles of music made when the guys in this band were young.

Go fuck yourselves.

This is nostalgia-drenched, over-produced, neutered “rock and roll” with so many shitty ’80s accents that people have labeled it new wave! (This is not what new wave sounds like, folks.) This is music for my parents, raising two kids and wondering why most of the music they heard on the radio just wasn’t as good as it was when they were in their teens and 20s. This is the sound of ageing in a hit record, but without the awareness that smarter people would have brought to it.

The songs are catchy, most of them stay with me after the album is over. The lyrics, aside from the lead track, are inoffensive, I guess. I actually quite enjoy “I Want a New Drug” which, though it is a little simplistic, is funny enough. (Also, I grew up with “I Want a New Duck,” which helps.)

All the musicians are fine; they are more than capable. If they’d abandon their attempt to sound contemporary, they’d probably be a pretty good band.

But the production is brutally clean for a record celebrating rock and roll. (Also, Lewis’ voice is way too gritty for this gloss.)

Worse: this is the sound of boomers ageing to the point of not liking the music of the young any more. It’s the counter-revolution. There are so many albums from 1983 I’d rather listen to than this. Close to 40 of them by my count.



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