The ’80s Pin Project: Hooters, #1

If you’re wondering what in the heck this “Pin Project” thing is, please go here, then meet me back at this blog. ‘kay? ‘kay!

The pin that I pulled out of my little box of treasures (dumped into a bag, reaching in blind….”You certainly are being random, aren’t you?” asked George), was a pin–first in what will surely be a series–for the band The Hooters.

Oh my word, how I loved The Hooters.

hooters1

Not to be confused with a certain wings-and-boobs-centric “family” restaurant.

What wasn’t to love? The Hooters of the 1980s were a five-piece power pop band out of Philadelphia. They were cute! They were dance-y! They were color-coded!

Cute, and harmless. What's not to love? Image from the80sman.com

Cute, and harmless.
Image from the80sman.com

The boys were all razor-cheeked and hairsprayed, and appropriately collared and slouchy. They made (make, actually, as they’re still together) music that fuses pop, ska, folk, and reggae. In the early-to-mid-1980s, this meant they created a decidedly different sound that stood out from the pop-synth ’80s electronic boom. Often their songs were flavored with unexpected instruments. They made a lot of use of the mandolin, which at the time was generally used by art-rock bands like Jethro Tull, or easy-breezy twee-folk like that given unto us by Seals and Crofts. The other instrument that set The Hooters apart from the ’80s power-pop pack was…

A melodica.

A what?

firemel

A melodica. Image from buttonbox.com

 

A melodica. Maybe you know it better by its nickname.

A hooter.

(Side note to Hooters fans who call themselves “Melodicans”. Stop that. You are not “Melodicans”, and you need to get over yourselves. You are Hooter Heads. Deal with it.)

Indeed, The Hooters named themselves after an oversized harmonica and took early-1980s Philadelphia by storm. They broke nationally in 1985, after signing with Columbia Records and producing the album Nervous Night. It’s a well-constructed album full of pop hooks and great harmonies. It’s an album I will stand behind to this day. Mostly. With one caveat.

It is entirely true that on every Hooters album, there is one song that I find unilaterally unlistenable. Dreadful. I find myself asking if their producers were on crack when they let this song through, or maybe their producer has some kind of terrible secret about the band and makes them perform one abysmal song per album, one that is atonal and completely lacking in style, or hook, or musical sensibilities. On Nervous Night it’s their cover of Love’s “She Comes In Colors” (note: watch the Love video at your own risk; NSFW or kids). I love all the rest of the album, but that song, their cover? It makes me want to burst my own eardrums. We can talk about their other albums’ misery songs, “Hard Rockin’ Summer” and “Mr. Big Baboon”, another time. And I digress.

One of the highlights of my misspent youth was an invitation I received from a friend to accompany him to a listening party, celebrating the 1989 release of The Hooters’ album Zig Zag. Swoon! Do I want to go listen to the new Hooters album and meet the band in the process? Swoon! HELL YES! Here’s a little photographic evidence of me and swoony blond Rob, hooter-playing Hooter and scalawag, who asked the friend I went there with if I was single.

Please note: my suspenders? Are paisley.

Please note: we had matching poofy hair volume.

Eagle-eyed readers: yes, my suspenders were paisley. I blush at the sight of that acid-washed jacket. And I wish I’d known my collar was turning upward. But I digress.

As I was not single at the time, that ended my potential for dating said Hooter. In one of the least-expected coincidences I can imagine, I discovered that two different women I have become friends with over the last bunch of years were also hit on by swoony Rob. I will say this for him: I know these ladies. He’s got good taste.

Ahhh. The Hooters. Everyone I know, knows who they are. Most people have disavowed fandom of them; they’re not cool any more, they’re not color-coded, they haven’t really changed their hair and that’s kind of weird. (OK, I’ll grant that retaining ’80s hair is an unwise business decision in terms of staying pop-relevant.) It’s too bad, because their music is still fun. 1980s nostalgia isn’t always a bad thing. Not when the music is great. Imma leave you with “And We Danced”. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be be-bopping at the union hall.

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4 responses to The ’80s Pin Project: Hooters, #1

  1. I grew up in Philly and at that time I was a young teen who loved music, and you could not escape the Hooters. They were always playing at some small club (that I was too young to get into) and my favorite Philly radio station, WMMR (John DeBella in the morning, Pierre Robert in the afternoon) played them constantly. Great band, but their sound never want beyond the eighties. Another big Philly fave at that time was local guy was Robert Hazard. Ah … the memories!

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    • beyondpaisley – Author

      Yes, The Hooters are still rooted in the ’80s sound but I will say this for them: they wrote catchy hooks with staying power. I still think “And We Danced” is a well-constructed song that has relevance. And is fun. Conversely, songs like…oh…Tears for Fears’s “Shout”–which I loved back in the day–now bore me to tears. Bands are who they are.

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