Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Easy Lover": Best duet of all-time?

I was checking this cornball radio station - yes, I'm one of five people in America that will put on a regular old radio station - that plays just about everything, but not really ever anything that's great.

Don Gorske is most certainly an avid Phil Collins fan.
Yesterday, however, it cranked "Easy Lover," the 1984 smash hit by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey. Like Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes," Huey Lewis & The News' "Heart & Soul" and multiple Duran Duran singles, this lite-pop gem brings on warm feelings of nostalgia not unlike the ones Morgan Spurlock describes in "Supersize Me." Like McDonald's, these crispy, tasty, audio nuggets have almost no nutritional value but they're associated with good times and good things - Atari, hanging with your mom in the summer, breakfast for dinner, first Little League games, etc.

While listening to this tune, it hit me - this is a duet by TWO EFFING ROCKING AND ROLL HALL OF FAMERS. Uber-soprano Philip Bailey went in with Earth, Wind and Fire, who probably should be in but definitely went in prematurely in 2000. Phil Collins, of course, went in as the drummer of The Legitimate Genesis and frontman of The Fraud Genesis in 2010.

Let me throw out some more minutia that might seem inconsequential but in fact build upon this tune's greatness.

- There was no Desmond Child/ ghost writing bullshit going on here. Collins and Bailey actually had a hand in co-writing the tune along with Nathan East, a member of the group Fourplay and product of the Philly soul machine.

- It did NOT appear on a Phil Collins album, so any hipsters trying to shoot a superficial hole in it will have to try again. It's actually on Bailey's 1984 album "Chinese Wall."

- It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 1 in the UK, and sold more than 1 million copies.

Where were you when Ritcher beat Moolah?
- For some reason, it was a theme song for the original "WrestleMania." Because when I think of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T fighting Rowdy Roddy Piper and Cowboy Bob Orton, and Junkyard Dog and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine" battling for the Intercontinental Title, I think about lyrics like "you're the one who wants to hold her/ hold her and control her/ you better forget it/ no, you'll regret it."

- The video. My God, the video. It's a behind-the-scenes look at making the video, shot in London, is mostly a gleeful glimpse of the two guys goofing off, riding in helicopters, getting pampered backstage and the like. Highlights include Bailey blasting Collins away when they rehearse the tune falsetto and Bailey singing OVER the track during the video shoot and Collins inflicting his British humor on Bailey, who kind of gets it but kind of doesn't, resulting in an awkwardness thicker than a major f*ck up on "Chopped." 

Gotta admit, this was pretty freaking awesome.
The combination of the substance of "Easy Lover," plus the fact that it's sung by two HoF artists, plus the insanely sick video shown above, has to put this somewhere near the top of all-time best duets, if not the very top, right?

What's better? "Say Say Say" by Paul McFartney and Michael Jackson? "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys? "Endless Love" by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross? "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty?

I would hear arguments on all of those. But I still say it's "Easy Lover," which will take your heart but you won't feel it, and before you know it, you'll be on your knees.

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