21. Eddie Money - Take Me Home Tonight (1986)
(File under: I Ran (So Far Away): The '80s)
Oh, corporate rock. Not since "Trout Mask Replica" has a term so aptly described the music it referred to, motherfuckers (not that I think whoever's reading this is a motherfucker; I just hate to end my sentences with prepositions). Hell, you don't even have to hear songs by Journey, Boston, Loverboy, etc. etc. when you can refer to the handy "corporate rock" label - you can just use your imagination (remember that? It's a part of the mind people accessed before videos and the internet) and arrive at a fairly accurate approximation (probably come up with better melodies, too, unless you're a tone-deaf retarded farm hand). But for every hopelessly middle-of-the-road genre, there's an artist who stands squarely in the middle of that road, and in this case, that artist is Eddie Money.
The schlub's so blandly nondescript he was bound to have a few hits on U.S. radio, and I'll say this for the guy: Better him than Styx. Faint praise, to be sure, but when your stock in trade is mediocrity, praise is a commodity (and I use that word advisedly in this case) measured not in quality but in quantity. I bet Eddie's got every not-so-negative press clipping ever written about him in some dusty, musty photo album somewhere, and why not? It's probably more healthy than saving the horrible reviews and keeping a revenge list. Then again, Elvis Costello had a revenge list, and his music of the period blew this guy's stuff out of the water. I guess what I'm trying to say is: cliche though it may sound, great art is, more often than not, the product of people who are seriously fucked up in some profound way, or at the very least excessively neurotic and twitchy (Human Chihuahua Syndrome). How many well-adjusted, self-actualized Zen masters have put out albums that make you want to jump up and down and smash the walls? I rest my case.
So the guy's boring; that's not a crime (in the strict legal sense). In fact, he's boring right down to his "image" - with his basset hound visage, he looks like an ordinary slob; more like the manager of an Arby's in Manhattan, Kansas than a bona fide rock star. Normally, I find this look endearing; unfortunately, he adopts all the poses of a rock star, which make them appear even more comical than usual, especially with his shaggy, feathered 'do and doughy features that make his head look like a possum gnawing on a partially spoiled ham. Say what you will about David Lee Roth - and he does seem like the Platonic ideal of a big ol' dick - but he's got the presence to pull off the cock-rock bullshit moves without making you snigger more than rules of propriety demand.
His music, in case you just started reading at this paragraph, is as boring as his "personality". In fact, it's so ho-hum he can't even achieve true wretchedness, which is at least worth writing about. So why include him? Simple, mein freund: because on this song he shit all over the memory of The Ronettes' "Be My Baby", arguably the best Girl Group song of all time, as well as the song that introduced the opening drum riff that's been used more times (and in better songs) than Bo Diddley's patented rhythm. Not only did he commit this act of musical necrophilia, he actually got Ronnie Spector to sing that song's chorus. Such acts of cultural piracy are but one more reason half of the wolrd wants to drop bombs on New York, and should accordingly not go unpunished. I don't blame Ronnie for taking part - everybody's gotta pay rent, especially when their ex-husband's idea of alimony involves pistol-whipping - but Eddie was just thieving to add novelty to a(nother) weak-ass song, and it shows. Nothing about the rest of the song makes you think, "You know what would fit in perfectly right here? The chorus from an old Phil Spector pop tune!". And if it does, that probably means you're eating your meat loaf through a tube in your arm.
There are plenty of ways to ruin great songs - using them in commercials or crappy TV shows/films - but inserting a (re-recorded) snippet of it into your own horrific travesty of a radio-ready single has got to be the most underhanded. Then again, how many times can you insert a saxophone solo into your "hard rock" before you become a laughing stock? As gimmicks go, I suppose giving work to and reigniting interest in an underappreciated oldies singer is somewhat noble (heap big thanks, white man!). I just wish it had been done in the service of a song that wasn't a complete pile of bleh. It's enough to make you fart out a Hyundai.