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Published: Friday, 7/22/2011

COMMENTARY

If you can't beat the heat, sing abou it

BY KIRK BAIRD
CULTURE SHOCK

It’s the midpoint of summer and I’m sensing an overwhelming theme for June and July, and most likely August. Hot. Very, very hot.

But what’s a theme without a theme song?

Sitcoms have them. So do newscasts. So why can’t this summer have a theme song too, something to loosely connect the past month and a half with the remaining weeks to come?

To better articulate the scorching nature of the Summer of 2011 — especially this week — I offer a few song suggestions, along with a numerical rating between 1 and 10, with 10 being the perfect theme song for this, our summer of discontent.

“Hot, Hot, Hot,” by Buster Poindexter. A fun 1980s party tune by David Johansen of glam and protopunk band the New York Dolls reinventing himself with 1980s loungesinger shtick. “How you feeling?” he screams to the anonymous listeners. “Hot, hot, hot!” is the chorus reply. Yeah, that kinda sums it up for me too. Give this an 8.

“The Heat is On.” Eagles fans, I feel you wincing at Glenn Frey’s cheap, painful commercial cashin with this pop hit single from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Don’t blame Eddie Murphy for this misfire. This is Frey’s debacle all the way. He made the money from it. He should suffer the shame of it as well. Score this a 7 for relevancy to our summer, but dock it 3 points for being, well, cheesy. Final score: 4.

“Hot Fun in the Summertime.” I do love me some Sly & the Family Stone. The problem is this song is a fond remembrance of summer: “that’s when I had most of my fun.” Given the record-setting heat and dry spell, I’m not sure how gloriously this time will be recalled by anyone who has to pay an electric bill. Love the song, but it scores a 5.

“Summer in the City.” I feel the same way about this Lovin’ Spoonful classic hit as the above Sly & the Family Stone song. 5.

“Summertime Blues.” I’m going with the Who’s version of this classic, since it’s the best known. The track’s title is particularly appropriate for our ongoing heat woes, though the song’s lyrics about restless and unemployed youth and their eternal struggle against the Man have nothing to do with our present plight with the heat wave. Give it an 8.

“Cruel Summer.” It’s like Bananarama built a time machine in 1984, a year before they released this song, and journeyed forward to now and wrote the pop hit about us. OK, the tune is really about a broken relationship and not broken thermometers and air conditioning, but if you stick to the chorus of “It’s a cruel, cruel summer” it resonates. 9.

“Summer Babe.” Love this Pavement track that channels Velvet Underground/Lou Reed. But it has absolutely nothing to do with a roasting summer. Still, I earned some indie cred for mentioning it, right? 3.

“Summer Breeze” Seals & Croft. And just like that I lost my indie cred and probably 2 percentage points of respect from readers. 1.

“Hot in Herre.” Sorry, Nelly, but I would’ve rather seen “hot” spelled “hott” than “here” spelled “herre.” You sound like you’re shivering cold, not about to melt. And no offense to your call for public nudity (“It’s gettin’ hot in herre/so hot/so take off all your clothes”) please, Toledo, let’s all wear shirts. 2.

“Some Like it Hot.” Curse the person who reminded me of this Power Station song, the band’s first single. And curse me for knowing that it was the band’s first single. 1.

“Hot in the City.” Billy Idol is featured in a YouTube clip performing this tribute to summer lovin’ on the ’80s TV show Solid Gold. Sometimes I hate YouTube. 2.

And for good measure, I’ll throw out Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” Snoop Dog’s “Drop it Like it’s Hot,” and Asia’s “Heat of the Moment.” Something tells me I’m going to burnfor including the latter in this list.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734. Follow him on his blog, toledoblade.com/cultureshock, or on Twitter, @bladepopculture



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