We've all heard that sappy 1982 Chicago hit "Hard to Say I'm Sorry/Get Away." This adult contemporary gem starts off as a fairly melancholy love song and then at the four minute mark it segues into this strikingly more upbeat pseudo-rock anthem. This song got me thinking, is there an entire micro-genre of music out there awaiting my discovery? Let's call them bipolar ballads--tunes with drastic changes in tempo. I was now on the prowl, what other schizophrenic ditties could I dig up?
I kept my ear to the ground, and I was serenaded by none else than rhythm and blues singer/songwriter Lionel Richie crooning 1985's "Say You Say Me." If you can't help but picture Mikhail Baryshnikov strutting his stuff in a unitard when you hear this you aren't alone, it was featured on the soundtrack of one of my favorite Cold War era films "White Nights" (by the way, my favorite is "Red Dawn"). "Say You Say Me" takes an interesting spin on the bipolar ballad. Namely, slow power ballad, jarringly interrupted by 15 seconds of pop confection, with a somewhat smoother transition back to said power ballad.
Now two songs do not constitute a micro-genre. There had to be more! Um, there are. Allison and I finally wedded our musical collections about six months after we wedded ourselves to one another. I love listening to my music on shuffle, so songs from the Allison music vaults come up with regularity. On one of these occasions "Dancin'" from the infamous 80s film flop Xanadu started to pipe through my speakers. Now this is a bipolar ballad in need of some serious psychotropics. It's big band and then it's 80's rock and then it's big band and then it's 80's rock and then you're on the couch in need of a cold compress. Fittingly, with the opening of Xanadu on Broadway, the soundtrack to this Olivia Newton-John career-killer is currently reregistering (at least minimally) on the national consciousness.
Whenever I make a list I always feel good once it has three members, but there are a couple other songs I'd like to quickly deem BBs (bipolar ballads). One that's more firmly enveloped within my musical tastes is Radiohead's "Paranoid Android." Thom Yorke, lead singer of the band even admitted that it, "really started out as three separate songs and [they] didn't know what to do with them." Allison has a contribution too, Led Zeppelin's "Fool in the Rain." I want to hear more though. So if you know a BB please let me know--they must not be forgotten!