Saturday, November 14, 2009

Like Trying to Catch A Falling Star

Worst Songs Wednesday (Sunday edition)

So, I finally decided on an appropriate segment for my blog with alliteration. It's called - as you've seen above - Worst Songs Wednesday. Here I shall uncover songs that should remain buried but like zombies from the grave, keep coming back. And yes, it is Sunday but this particular song haunts me at least one a week. The first entrant in Worst Songs Wednesday is one that screams '90s.

I work doing night fill at a department store. Let's call it "Large X". I have been working at Large X for three years now (I think. This may be my fourth). Up until recently the store radio would play a random array of songs ranging from terrible to pretty good (the occasional Bowie or Beth Orton springs to mind). For some reason they now play the exact same songs every day. You can time when your break and end of shift is due based on what song is playing. For instance: I know that when I hear "How Do You Talk to An Angel?" I know that when it is over, I have 2 minutes left before I go home (usually).

A co-worker of mine is convinced I love the song because of my excitement when it comes on. Okay, fair enough: I DO sing along with it. But this is because it is such a terrible song. And while it continues to be an indication of the highlight of my shift - going home - it has been taking up an awful lot more head space than I would ever wish upon even my worst nemesis.

Now, anyone who hears this song knows straight away that it's a terrible song with crisp, early 90s production; overly gushy lyrics no one in real life would even think, let alone say; a saxophone solo (yet again unashamedly early 90s); and just a general soft-rock ballad that conjures up images of denim, big hair and awful dark floral patterns.

Prior to doing my research for this blog, that is all I knew of that song. I have tonight discovered that How Do You Talk To An Angel was the theme song for a Fox "drama" in 1992 called "The Heights". But it doesn't end there. The Heights is yet another cruel joke inflicted upon the world by none other than Mr. Aaron Spelling (producer). The title is not only the name of the suburb a group of young adults lives in, it's also the name of the rock band they've set up. Each episode featuring a song by these too cool for school go-getter stereotypes. How Do You Talk to An Angel appears in the first episode.

Needless to say, I was elated at the sight of the lead guitarist's hair as well as the clothes and other hair styles these kids were sporting. The video is replete with montages of "band fun", not to mention longing looks between the singer and the saxophonist.

Surprisingly, the show was cancelled on November 14, 1992.* How Do You Talk to An Angel hit number one exactly one week later. There are some things in history that confound us and the success of this song is one of those. But, it goes deeper: in 1993 the song was nominated for an Emmy Award for (get this) "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics"!!!** Thankfully, Ms. Liza Minnelli had the song "Sorry I Asked" to take the award.

Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics? Have you heard these lyrics?

I hear a voice in my mind
I know her face by heart
heaven and earth are moving in my soul
I don't know where to start
tell me, tell me, the words to define
the way I feel about someone so fine

How long was this guy*** sitting on the end of his bed with pen and pad in hand coming up with this gem? Then inspiration really hits:

how do you talk to an angel?
how do you hold her close to where you are?
how do you talk to an angel?
it's like trying to catch a falling star

Really, this was deserving of a nomination for the most Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics? I guess it doesn't specify whether that outstanding achievement is a positive or negative one. But for anyone reading this who writes: can you imagine yourself coming up with these lyrics and going "Oh yeah, that's the shit!" and scrawling it down excitedly? Any lyrics like that are discarded before they hit my page. I'd rather have a blank page than one that asks how one talks to an angel and likens the task to catching a falling star. Seriously.

Congratulations Steve Tyrell, Barry Coffing (composers) and Stephanie Tyrell (lyricist). You guys had the balls to do what any other self respecting musician/writer would dare to do: Write and push forward one of the worst songs of 1992, if not the decade.

*Although it's the 15th now, I did start writing this blog on the 17th anniversary of the shows cancellation.
**Gratuitous use of exclamation marks I know, but it was warranted
***Turn out it's not a guy but that ruins my flow


  1. Whenever I hear that frigging song I think of the following....a) this place really sucks and i cant wait to quit...b)It sucks that someone can make soooo much money from something so awful when there are plenty of talented musos making nothing and it proves its who you know not what you know (he was Tori Spellings boyfriend before he got a record deal) and c) i wish I had my ipod.
    Hey you could pull quite a few songs from Large X's playlist for Worst Songs Wednesday.

  2. Yes there is 4 hours of Blog material with Large X radio. Hey, did you know Phillipa McGregor's new novel "The White Queen", has finally arrived?!

  3. I'm not familiar with her books.If you read it and say its good...i will give it a read.

  4. No, I'm sure it's not good. It's the book they have an advertisement for on Large X's radio about 15 billion times during our shift. Some shit about the family fueds that sparked The War of the Roses

  5. Haha oh ok. I have become oblivious to what is played at Large X!