One Random Single a Day #20: “Satellite” (1987) by The Hooters

hooters-satellite-1987-7

So, it now seems like I’m starting to get the hang of this Random Single a Day challenge – I’ve developed a tried-and-true schedule for setting aside an hour or so to give the song a few listens and write up my first impressions. Relatively speaking, though, I am still just barely starting – the year is only about 5% through with! In this short amount of time, though, I’ve come across singles that amused me, bored me, infuriated me, and several other reactions in between. I’m proud to say, then, that I’ve made the first discovery that may stand to be an all-time favorite through upcoming years.

The Hooters were an American band from Philadelphia, which found the bulk of their fame in the mid-80s when their music got heavy MTV rotation (as was the case with many groups of the era). They only really had a handful of singles pop into the Hot 100, with “And They Danced” probably being their most successful and well-known hit to this day. This particular single pretty much captures everything that is so great about the band – poppy, anthemic melodies placed against a keyboard-driven heartland rock sound akin to Bruce Springsteen’s best work. “And We Danced” is all sound and pretty daft in its lyrical content, but I think that’s what makes it so good. There should always be a place in this world for mindless yet enjoyable pop-rock, and this one fills the want so perfectly.

Additionally, The Hooters feel so very 80s, which also adds to the novelty of their sound. “Satellite” was actually one of their last really commercially successful singles before their decline in popularity, but it’s probably one of their strongest lyrically. The group has a tendency to carve out some of the most cryptic of lyrics, usually with references to Christianity thrown in for good measure. Here, it’s no different: “So jump in the river and learn to swim / God’s gonna wash away all your sins / And if you still can’t see the light / God’s gonna buy you a satellite”. Unlike similar lyrics found in another of their singles “All You Zombies”, the message here is actually a bit more explicit, especially considering that this was conceived during the rise of televangelism. Here, the song points fingers at the excesses of the movement and how the bargaining tendencies of the figureheads of televangelists contradict the very messages they are preaching.

Yet despite the bitterness of the lyrical content, this still manages to be a rather fun, upbeat song that feels radio-ready through and through. Much of that effect comes from keyboardist Rob Hyman, who provides these underlying spacey synth riffs that feel very much like they came from a satellite itself. The Springsteen-esque nature of the band’s sound is ever-present here, once again, and Eric Bazilian possesses enough strength to be a convincing leader and voice of the band. The way he sings, “It’s counting down to judgment day” is enough to give me chills (and it’s only partially due to very recent events). It really says a lot about the band that this is considered the weakest of their most successful singles, yet it still contains more heart and vigor than so much of the dismal pop music to which I tend to subject myself these days.

I find it a very fortunate stroke of luck that I stumble across such an awesome new musical discovery on this day of all days. I am constantly very scared, sad, angry, anxious, and a hundred other emotions all at once; writing these reviews have left me pleasingly distracted, but it’s always even more of an enormous blessing when I’m listening to and writing about music I legitimately love, music that reminds me of what it’s like to love good things again. I don’t know if anyone actually reads these reviews I write (and it’s okay if not, since this is mostly an exercise for myself), but in case anyone ever feels like they need some solace from the dark world in which we live with no certain future – I’d recommend listening to some good music that you enjoy. Lose yourself in the sound, the instruments, the lyrics, the production. Stay informed, of course, but never sacrifice your mental stability in fruitless efforts to keep up with the latest news of corruption. Enjoyable art is healthy for the heart, soul, and mind, and caring for yourself in spite of everything happening around you is the greatest act of defiance you can do.

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