I admit, things have been quiet around UCAMA (Unfairly Critically Abused Musical Artists) HQ over the past year or so. (For more information about UCAMA, check out my review of Songs From The Seventies by Barry Manilow here.) I’ve been either not writing or writing in such a productive fashion that nothing old ever gets reviewed. But... I admit it, I feel like a challenge.
So – I’m going to defend one of the most overplayed songs of the ‘80s and the album that spawned it. It’s time to take a closer look at Wang Chung’s 1986 release, Mosaic, and the demon-song it spawned: “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.”
Anyone who knows anything about Wang Chung – and there are a few of us, though just a few – knows that they were a progressive pop band masquerading as synthesizer fluff. Songs like “Dance Hall Days” and, yes, “EHFT” were exceptions rather than the rule; there was substance behind the glitz that most people never heard, usually slickly but competently produced and arranged. The fact is, Wang Chung has talent. The duet of Nick Feldman and Jack Hues (on Mosaic aided and abetted by producer and guest third member Peter Wolf) could turn out four minutes of danceable music that nevertheless had a brain.
Putting aside “EHFT” for a moment – and yes, we’ll get back to it – there are some great songs on Mosaic. The second single, “Let’s Go,” was synth-pop’s answer to the B-52s’ “Roam,” and it’s just as infectious. “Hypnotize Me” is impeccably written and performed pop. On songs like “The Flat Horizon” and “The World In Which We Live,” the tone turns more serious, taking on heavier subject matter like obsession and human behavior that would eventually lead to more introspective albums like “To Live And Die In L.A.” and “Warmer Side Of Cool.” Mosaic is a pastiche of tightly woven, punchy songs, and almost all of them work.
There are two exceptions. One is “Betrayal;” the execution falters on this slower song, and it limps home on a raft of clichés. The other...
You know, twenty-three years later, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” is kinda... cool. Maybe I’m being nostalgic. Maybe I’m being a moron. But damn it, what ever happened to fun for the sake of fun? And the album version works better; it leaves in a couple of weird instrumental breaks that make the song veer closer to parody or irony.
Mosaic gets the UCAMA seal of approval. It’s a good release that has been unjustly maligned. Get over your hipster self and check it out.