1989 Version 22.0: Are We There Yet?

Okay, I admit it, I'm a child of the 80's. I grew up on the sights and sounds of what is arguably the last decade with an original bone (heh heh, I said "bone") in its body. Even back then, though, we kids knew we were surrounded by shit. Taco? Tiffany? Milli Vanilli? Stuff like that made you wonder if someone in charge hadn't fallen asleep at the wheel, but there was so much good stuff still out there that we didn't lose much sleep about it.

And, in our minds, the future was only gonna get better. We could hear the footsteps of technology gaining on us and knew that such advances held unlimited potential for human gains. Oh, what great heights we would soon be reaching. I think at some point, we were led to believe that by 2011, we'd have flying cars. The only flying cars I see are the ones driven by Billy Joel late at night in the Hamptons, where mail boxes quiver with fear at the sight of his newly-repaired Bentley, but I digress.

In all the years that have passed since the 80's exhaled its last breath, you'd have thought we'd have progressed by now. I mean, those from the 40's were able to look at the 50's and 60's and see a progression. They might not have liked it, but they'd have been hard-pressed to deny that progress had been made on many fronts.

Yet, here we are in the year 2011 and we haven't progressed a fucking day past 1989. Musically speaking, it's like "Groundhog Day" (the movie) gone horribly wrong. In that movie, Bill Murray is sent to report on the Groundhog Day celebration and ends up re-living the same day over and over until he finally gets it right. In reality, we've been living the same day over and over for twenty-plus years.

As a kid blissing out to the sounds of 1989, if you'd have told me that absolutely no musical advances would have taken place between then and now, I'd have laughed in your face. Back then, the music of Kanye West, for example, would have been seen as the unintentionally hilarious farce that it is. In 2011, he is heralded as a genius. In 1989, we had NWA, Public Enemy and De La Soul doing absolutely amazing things in the field of rap and hip-hop music. I remember wondering with great anticipation how far rap would go. Turns out we've advanced so far that Eminem and Chris Brown are held up as icons, while Ice T plays a cop on TV and Ice Cube seems to have built a career on asking repeatedly, "Are We There Yet?"

No, Ice Cube, we are not there yet. Enough already.

On the pop front, we are led by two musical visionaries, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, or, as I like to call them Katy Gaga. Every time I see them, or accidentally hear one of their songs, I am reminded of the blaring fact that Madonna did it so much better, yet Lady Gaga rips off Madonna and is repeatedly hailed a genius. Meanwhile, Katy Perry promotes her new album by appearing in zit cream commercials and demanding that her limo drivers not look at her or attempt to engage her in conversation. Poor thing, undeserved fame can be such a bitch.

How, I ask you, does such a thing happen? Is it really possible to have spent three decades trying to create the most dumbed-down version of 1989 we can imagine? Well, I must say, it worked. Whoever decided that this was to be our universal goal, you win. Rich suburban kids walk around with tattoos and their pants hanging off their ass like an extra in the movie "Colors". Guitar Center actually sells a video game that allows you to be a "guitar hero" without ever needing to learn the instrument - and apparently turntables are now a musical instrument because they have a whole section devoted to them.

If you'd have told me in 1989 that DJ's would be the new rock stars, I'd have thought that you were a comedic genius. Today, though, that shit ain't funny.

Back in 1989, we had this musical phenomenon called the "one-hit wonder". Sure, they'd been around since the dawn of time, but, in the 80's, they were everywhere. An artist would come out of nowhere, score one gigantic monster of a hit, fail to repeat that success on their next attempt or two, and then disappear.

Nowadays, we're still surrounded by one-hit wonders, but they're the same one-hit wonders from ten years ago because, for some odd reason, they obviously didn't get the memo instructing them to LEAVE! While the rest of N'SYNC got the message, Justin Timberlake didn't and is still here, shitting out faceless pop music and proclaiming himself an "artist". Here's the funny part: a lot of people believe him.

You know the funniest part about this version of 1989? Bon Jovi is the highest-grossing concert act. Can you believe that? The powers-that-be gave us twenty years to shape the world into something new and amazing and this is what we come up with...Bon Jovi.

It's like we packed up the station wagon for this huge, grand adventure, a whole world of possibilities in front of us, and we never left the fucking drive-way.

"Are we there yet?"

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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