This ’80s band was vastly underrated – and they’ve got the hits to prove it
Another seriously underrated 80s act is ABC. They were a group that released hit after hit during the first part of the decade. You know them mainly for “The Look of Love” and “Poison Arrow”, but also “When Smokey Sings” and “How To Be A Millionaire”.
The extended dance remix of “Millionaire” alone is reason enough to include them as unfairly forgotten and perhaps unappreciated in their time.
There is also “Tears are not enough” and “Be near me”.
ABC, in their original hit machine form, were only active from 1980 to 1991, then reinvented themselves from 1997 until today, so they are by definition the quintessential band of the 80s. had five US Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Every song is a jam. Even the lesser tracks that round out the band’s Greatest Hits album are worth listening to. I would count them among my favorites from that era.
First off, “The Look of Love” isn’t the ’60s track you’d think. Same title, totally different song. With a funky bass line and rising strings (or a string synthesizer mode), this dance jam is the very definition of Second British Invasion post-disco pop music that still gives off disco vibes. Lead singer Martin Fry absolutely destroys on this track, alternately whispering then outright intoning the title lyrics.
It also helps his accent shine through and gives “The Look of Love” a Eurotrash ewww feeling that puts you in a smoky nightclub gyrating in your Jordache jeans and v-neck shirt while sweating Pierre cologne Cardin. I love it.
Related: Jason Carr: No 80s band had a more unlikely journey than this
“Poison Arrow” features the ridiculous lyrics “shoot this poison arrow through my pillowrrrrt,” but is no less of a dance-inducing shaker than “The Look of Love.” Again, we have synth beats, killer bass, groaning saxophone, keyboards and the best reason to listen to ABC: the voice of Martin Fry. Not to mention that the video is so much of his pop moment, it’s hard to believe anyone ever took it seriously. Fry actually wears a gold lamé suit without irony, and there are Patrick Nagel designs everywhere. It’s pure 80s MTV. Cocaine may have been involved in its filming.
I won’t go into detail analyzing ABC’s other hits, but rest assured, you need ABC on your phone’s playlist to be able to Bluetooth your car stereo and jam. Big hair and optional shoulder pads.
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