The “signature hit” of a band can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, a band with a signature hit is more likely to be remembered than a band that does not have one. Furthermore, pop culture has a way of latching on to signature songs and makings bands a lot of money in the process. The flipside is that people do not associate the band with anything else musically other than their signature hit. It is almost like the band had nothing else to offer and their sole claim to fame was that one song – which is rather unfortunate for bands that toil away while making a collection of songs that they hope will endure the passage of time. When someone mentions a new band to me, I look up their signature song and if I don’t like it, I write the band off completely and have virtually no curiosity to explore the rest of their music catalog. One such band that met this fate with regard to me was 80s new-wave band Kajagoogoo.
Kajagoogoo had a quick rise to fame in 1983 on the strength of their signature hit “Too Shy” and their charismatic and good-looking frontman Limahl. But it all seemed to disappear almost soon after it all began. The media wrote the band off as teeny boppers – an image attributed to the boyish charm of Limahl by the band’s management. This resulted in the frontman being sacked from his band which eventually led to the “nail in the coffin” for the band. Given that the original formation of Kajagoogoo ceased to exist before my third birthday, I had no choice but to discover this band retroactively (in the late 90s to be precise) and the natural instinct was to give their signature hit “Too Shy” a spin. The fact that the song was produced by Duran Duran’s keyboardist Nick Rhodes definitely triggered my curiosity even more. When I heard the song, I remember thinking of the track as being intrinsically tied to the 80s in a way that it would not be relevant beyond that decade. Needless to say, I was not impressed, and I wrote off Kajagoogoo as “just another 80s band” that rode the new wave period and had nothing to offer me musically. This was in the late 90s.
I recently received a pre-release submission for Radio Creme Brulee’s 24/7 broadcast of a new single by the reunited Kajagoogoo (Limahl included) titled “Death Defying Headlines”. Given my experience with Kajagoogoo, I cannot say I was necessarily excited about the prospect of listening to the track – until I actually listened to the track. I remember thinking that these guys had actually succeeded in making something that was “new wave at its core” and yet modern and fresh. A part of me hopes that this song triggers a wave of more bands that make music like this. It also reaffirmed my thought that bands that formed in the 80s have a unique and powerful grasp of songwriting – even if they did not actually reach their full potential in the 80s. Needless to say, we are giving this track 4-5 plays a day on Radio Creme Brulee right now. It also rekindled my curiosity with regard to the band. Maybe I was too harsh in judging the band purely on the basis of “Too Shy”. Yet, instead of digging through their catalog, I chose to watch VH1’s “Bands reunited” episode which featured an orchestrated reunion of the band for a one-off gig in London back in 2003 and caught a snippet of a track towards the end of the show that sounded rather promising.
That track was “Hang On Now” – the first of what I hope will be a series of “80s flashbacks” that we showcase via this blog. This song definitely falls into that category of music that defines “pop perfection” – a beautiful and addictive melody, and the cool, breathy, suave, and smooth vocals of lead singer Limahl floating over slick new-wave style production. Apparently, this song was released as the follow-up single to “Too Shy” and unfortunately it tanked miserably on the charts (it was a top 20 hit in the UK though). This is just another example of American music listeners having terrible lapses in judgment when it comes to great pop music. This song definitely reminds of what is missing in a lot of today’s music. We barely hear any actual musical instruments in a lot of today’s music. With this song, you can actually hear each instrument contribute to the overall texture of the song.
Given that “Hang On Now” was released back in 1983 on Kajagoogoo’s hit album “White Feathers” at a time when MTV was its peak, it is hard NOT to talk about the song’s music video. Featuring a love story between a guy (Limahl) and a girl (that looks visibly underaged if I may say so!), the video seems to reiterate that odd mix of style and simplicity that the 80s seemed to capture the essence of very well. It leaves the viewer with a sense of escapist longing for that period – especially for people like me that are convinced we were born a decade late. Hence, without further ado, I present to you the music video for Kajagoogoo’s “Hang On Now”:
In case you did not pick up on this earlier, the blog you are reading is affiliated with Radio Creme Brulee – an online radio station that features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. Alongside newer artists, we also play plenty of newer music by bands that rose to prominence in the 80s and the 90s. Noteworthy examples include Simply Red, Wet Wet Wet, Kajagoogoo, Kylie Minogue, Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, Camouflage, Spandau Ballet, INXS, Depeche Mode, Suede, The Corrs, Jamiroquai, Johnny Hates Jazz, Simple Minds, and Culture Club.
Give us a spin when you get a chance.
We just might become your alternative of choice!