The Body Remembers

Debbie Gibson

StarGirl, 2021

REVIEW BY: Peter Piatkowski


Of the major nostalgia acts of the 1980s, Debbie Gibson is probably the most underrated. It’s very easy to forget that the former teen-pop diva was a very talented singer-songwriter who wrote and produced her own songs. At 16, she wrote her first top 10 hit, “Only In My Dreams,” and she was responsible for penning all her big hits. Unlike a lot of the teen pop stars of the ‘80s who were propped up in front of an assembly line of bubblegum pop music (usually orchestrated by middle-aged white men), Gibson had a rare autonomy over her own sound, despite her youth and being a young woman singing dance pop (a normally male producer-driven musical genre). But because the music she was singing was bubblegum teen-pop, she was lumped with other flash-in-the-pan one-hit wonders and Madonna wannabes. In reality, Debbie Gibson was a gifted tunesmith who wrote some fantastic pop records, some of which would rank amongst the best of dance pop of the decade. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Like a lot of ‘80s acts, though, Gibson struggled to maintain her pop stardom after the decade wound to a close, and much of her work shifted from being a radio hitmaker to capitalizing on ‘80s nostalgia. That doesn’t mean that she wasn’t writing or making new music. After her salad days, she was still putting out studio LPs on various indie labels, scoring hits on international charts, and writing tunes for other artists. This year, she seems to have taken a page out of Kylie Minogue’s pop book by releasing a record of self-penned disco pop dance tunes to create a fun distraction for fans during a very difficult time. Finding inspiration during the pandemic to put together a dance pop record as a way of escapism, Gibson once again has shown that she is a top-notch pop singer who deserves more recognition.

The Body Remembers is Gibson’s first album in over 10 years, the last being a collection of covers, and her first LP of original tunes in 20 years. It’s a bright and sparkly record that is a Valentine to her legion of gay fans and it reminds audiences that at her best, Debbie Gibson was a fantastic dance-pop diva. Though she will always be tied to the neon-sparked ‘80s, The Body Remembers makes the case that Gibson deserves a second career as a dance-club singer like Martha Wash or Suzanne Palmer. It’s a gloriously camp and gaudy record.

The best song of the album, the third single, is the house-pop “One Step Closer,” which is a great tribute to Kylie Minogue. Harking back to the early ‘90s house gems like CeCe Peniston’s “Finally” or Robin S.’s “Show Me Love,” the tune is a stylish, glossy pop song that should have become a club staple (I hope that remixers will be reworking the song). “Girls Night Out,” the other single off the album is another bright spot, a breezy, speedy dance pop that updates the Sex And The City trope of pop songs. And “Freedom” is a great EDM tune in which Gibson miraculously manages to maintain her chemistry and personality, despite this busy production.

Is The Body Remembers perfect? No, there are too many ballads and Gibson stumbles mightily with the Kobe Bryant tribute, “Legendary” (which sounds strangely like it’s lacking a melody or structure). But at its best, it shows that the gifted pop starlet deserves a comeback.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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