Proposed: The Warrior by Scandal is the definitive 80’s pop song.
Check the video
It was written and produced in 1984, to coincide with the launch of the eighties. As most people know, the eighties did not officially begin until 1984, when the world gave us AIDS, the cosby show, Macintosh and Michael Jackson’s hair on fire. Good times, good times. From 1980 up until the end of 1983, was basically just preparation time. The general population was still shaking off the vibes of the 70’s which were as yet echoing through time like a bad Doobie Brothers’ reverb. It wasn’t until the movie Flashdance (1983) when sensibilities were allowed to change for the better, and by 1984, the world was ready for the 80’s to finally begin.
Sung by Patty Smyth. She was married to Eddie Van Halen, and then to John McEnroe you know. So, basically, like, she’s been witness to every form of eighties excess and self-absorbtion imaginable. Snorting blow off the paw of a sedated polar bear in Simon LeBon’s secret malibu basement? Yup. Throwing a tantrun at the stewardess and refusing to board the plane until the interior is re-designed in colors that match your new album cover. Yup, yup and double yup.
Infectious. You can’t help but sing along. And if you’ve had 4 drinks or more, you will be unable to control yourself from ‘shooting’ the person in front of you with your finger-guns in time to the “bang! Bang!” of the lyrics. Even Patty can’t stop herself (see video). It’s pitiful, but you were raised in the eighties so you are inured to shame.
The same-titled album went platinum in 1984, and then the band broke up at the height of their success after the “warrior” tour. So this was their last big hit before seperating due to ‘artistic differences’ (I love it when they do that!).
The video. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where people wear leotards and garbage and the streets are ruled by gangs of angry dance-fighters. Yeah, it’s a tried and trusted fomula. Our impish and impossibly cute heroine starts the video looking a bit confused, like she’s just woken up and can’t remember what she got up to last night. Obviously nothing good, right? Hairs all bunched up in a weird knot, and someone’s gone and drawn on her face – what does it say – I hope it’s not “I crave cock” again. No, it’s just some lines and stuff. Thank God. Now I guess it’s time to find a guy, I think I’ll have a look over there. Oh shit, the dance fighters are out again. There’s one that’s been sleeping in spaghetti! Was that two guys kissing?! Yeah it was. Oh, there’s a straight guy (I can tell because he’s not kissing another guy). Wait, those dance fighters are gonna get him. And he’s already got a bimbo. Wait a minute, he doesn’t like that bimbo. All right! I’m gonna jump him – victory! Time for a little dance. The eighties shuffle - step to the side, tap foot, step to the other side, tap foot. Swing arms listlessly. And fade.
Primal screams. Yep, this track has them. “ooooooooooohhhHHOOOOHHooooo”
The music. I’m no musicologist, or even an musicograher, but there really doesn’t seem to be anything out of the orinary here. Intro, verse, verse, chorus, verse verse chorus, end. It’s as good a candidate as anything for a genre-defining archetype.
Lyrics. They don’t get much better than this. Unfortunately, due to the forum rules on reproducing copyrighted materials, I can’t post the entire lyrics. Which is a shame because every word is worthy of analysis and comment. Even on just a casual glance you can see that the lyrics are full of references to other eighties songs, TV shows, bands, movies or phenomena of the times. I’ll just hit some of the highlights.
(a) You run, run…run away*
Basically, people in the eighties were always running (not to be confused with jogging, soft “j” which was also a favorite pasttime, but not amongst the power pop set). Whether you were running to the hills, running for your lives or just running a little bit hot tonight, you, as a child of the eighties, will almost certainly recognise this standard theme of eighties culture. The Flock of Seagulls confessed to it. Bruce (and his squeeze Wendy) were born to do it. And DMC would have only been half a rap group without it. In any case, it was important to emphasize this ‘running’ theme by repeating the words as many times as possible. In this case, three times in the opening five-word phrase. Pure genius.
(b) Feeding on…your hungry eyes
Again, another common theme in the eighties was hunger. David Bowie was all about the hunger. So was Bob Geldof. Whether it was because girls were opting for the salads only and the guys were coming off week-long speed binges, or because they were all just too busy feeding the world to take care of themselves, the skinny eighties rockstar was pretty much famished 24/7. Even to the point where their very eyes became hungry. I don’t understand the physiology exactly, but Eric Carmen (of Dirty Dancing, and later South Park, fame) did .
(c ) Who’s the hunter…who’s the game?
Pass that blunt and just ponder the deepness.
I could go on, but I’ll take a rest and see what others think.
Arguments against? Further supporting evidence?