A Song That You Can Dance To: “Kiss Me Deadly,” Lita Ford (1988)

‘Day 9’ of the 30-Day Song Challenge, which is taking me a solid two years to complete. Here’s the deal. I don’t dance. I’m not good at it, I typically don’t enjoy it. It’s in the genes. My parents met on a blind date AT a dance and quickly bonded over the fact they didn’t like dancing. My Dad and I opted against a father-daughter dance when I got married.

Cause your friends love dancing, and if they love dancing, well … they’re no friends of mine.

Song I like to dance to

What happens when I darken a dance floor.

But I do love music, and occasionally, the rhythm is gonna get me, and my toe will start tapping. And yet, I couldn’t point to a song that I will ALWAYS dance to. A song I’d beg a wedding (or club) DJ to play. (Note: I haven’t been in a “club” in at least eight years.) I thought about it my entire commute home, and came up with a slightly bizarre answer: “Kiss Me Deadly,” the biggest (only) solo hit for former Runaway Lita Ford.

My third year of college, I lived in my sorority house.  Correction: I lived in the annex behind my sorority house, in a roughly 450-square foot, two-level mini-house with two other girls. The toilet was in its own room upstairs, the sink attached to the wall in the upstairs bedroom, and the shower downstairs. It was messy (my fault), drafty, and cramped, but pretty wonderful all the same. And before going out, as part of our “pregaming” ritual before such a term existed, my roommates and I would dance to a handful of songs: “We Are the World” (more of a singing-into-hairbrushes number); “Rhythm of the Night,” “Iesha,” and, yes, “Kiss Me Deadly.”  It strikes me that these songs, considered “oldies” then, were no more than 10 years old.  Essentially, the equivalent of “Since U Been Gone” or “Hollaback Girl” today.

WHAT.

I digress … back to Lita.

The 1988 song about being reckless, broke, and sexy ran up the charts as hair-metal was hitting its prime. Skid Row, GnR, Poison, Whitesnake … it was a glorious time (a time I’ve mentally revisited twice now in as many days). And in addition to it being one of the only female additions to the genre (and far superior to Vixen), the song sort of has everything.

Accelerating tempos. Syncopation.  Ample opportunities for air guitar. Even more opportunities to shuffle around angrily like John Bender in The Breakfast Club. Lyrics about (not) getting “laid,” for God’s sake.  So scandalous!   And, of course, a key change right into the closing vocal.

You know I like dancing with you, Lita. As it turns out.

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FFWDing to the Best Part: “To Be With You,” Mr. Big (1991)

Y’all, each day it takes a fair amount of restraint to not select a song from the 1987-1991 heyday of hair metal. (Thanks for ruining all that was right with the world, KURT COBAIN.) This genre is so full of bravado and power chords that I DARE you to not find a “best part” within even some of the worst among the catalog.

Today’s pick, however, is unequivocally one of the best of its breed! First, the sweet earnestness with which lead singer Eric Martin (yeah, yeah, I had to Wiki that) delivers the lyrics makes me believe (deep inside) that he, in fact, truly does want to be with me!

Best part? 2:51. You think it’s the post-bridge key change (2:28), with its dramatic pause and increased tambourine-play.  But then!  The key changes again, back to the original!  And while the backing vocals revert to a lower register, the lead part somehow manages to swell further in intensity!  It’s a clever little surprise, and far less “cheap” than one simple dramatic key change.  Yeah, I’m looking at you, “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

 

Side note, singing friends. This song is a toughie at karaoke. It is never clear if you are supposed to slog through the chorus with the backing singers, or pseudo-improvise the lead vocals. “Waaaaiiited on a line,” and etc. etc. Better to leave this one to the professionals.