Missed our last review? Check out part two here!
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS ARTIST AND SONG SPOILERS.
Onto the next one! ABC aired the newest episode of its six-week special series Greatest Hits on Thursday, July 14. This time, we took a look back at the best of music between 1985 and 1990.
This episode promised an appearance of probably the biggest genre of the period: hair metal-rock. The show would deliver on this promise, but in a lighter way than we expected. There were also some notable absences in the show’s lineup. Despite this, the night was still very fun for all.
The night started off with Poison lead singer Bret Michaels who sang “Nothin’ But A Good Time” from Poison’s 1988 album “Open Up and Say…Ahh!” Due to his recent medical problems, Michaels was rather stiff on stage, but had a ton of energy and wonderful singing that more than made up for it. Michaels had the audience pumped for the rest of the show. He has not skipped a beat since the hard rocking late 80s.
Michaels was followed by local band Chicago. They brought along R&B singer Aloe Blacc to sing “Look Away” and “You’re the Inspiration” from their 1988 self-titled album.
The band has aged some since the late 80s, but their performance did not reflect that. The song got the audience swaying to the music. The addition of Blacc and Robert Lamm sharing lyrics gave these song some soul.
The next act to take the stage was R&B and hip-hop singer Miguel, who performed Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.” The song is known for having a dance feel to it, but Miguel’s singing gave the song more of a Latin beat. He got the audience dancing to the beat, and nearly started a dance party when he walked into the crowd. Miguel seemed to renew the song, and gave it more of a kick.
Following Miguel was pop vocal group Wilson Phillips, who performed “Hold On” from their 1990 self-titled album. The group, consisting of the daughters of The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and John and Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, still had great harmonizing with this song, and made the song sound upbeat. The song also sounded hopeful, to go along with the lyrics. Even twenty-six years after the release, the song still sounded great.
Blues rock singer, Grace Potter, of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, took the stage next to perform the Bon Jovi classic “You Give Love A Bad Name.”
Being used to hearing Jovi singing the song, it was rather strange, yet unique to hear a female voice on the track instead of the New Jersey rocker we have all come to know. The performance did not sound as well as we hoped. Potter sounded a tad out-of-tune at a few points in the song, and the guitars did not sound as hard and driving as they did on the original track. It felt like the band was purposely holding back some power with this song.
Next up was Foreigner and Fun. singer Nate Ruess, who performed another classic: “I Want To Know What Love Is.”
When listening to their performance, it seemed to us that lead singer Mick Jones and Ruess had similar vocal ranges when they sang. In a way, it almost felt like a younger and older Jones singing together, which sounded really cool. The song still sounded rocking, even though the album it was on (Agent Provocateur) was released in 1984, but we cannot fault them for this.
Kenny Loggins made his second appearance on Greatest Hits to sing his classic “Danger Zone” from the 1986 film Top Gun. Like his performance of “Footloose” a couple of weeks ago, the song was a few beats slower, but it still had that driving, high-octane feel that it had all this time.
It still felt the “need for speed” that Tom Cruise did in the film. Though Loggins sounded great, the guitar sounded very subdued, and not as hard and harsh. The quick five-note bass intro also seemed to be missing from the song.
Bret Michaels returned to the stage to finish the show with another Poison hit, the power ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” Even all these years later, the song still sounded great, and it gave the audience the feels. Michaels kept up his energy from the top of the show, and ended this week’s episode right.
The music in this episode seemed a little toned down from the last two episodes. It had more of an easy listening format, rather than a hard, loud feel like the show has been so far. Why is that? Some artists, like Wilson Phillips and Foreigner, are known for some quiet music, so we can understand that. Others, like Kenny Loggins and Bon Jovi, are famous for their hard rock style. If the show wanted to have quiet music, then there should have been other softer acts in place of Loggins, Grace Potter, and Bret Michaels.
Also, where was everyone? A lot of big names in the late 80s were missing. It was awesome to see some representation of hair metal, but it seemed to scratch the surface. Where were bands like Def Leppard and AC/DC? Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, also headlining names in this era, were barely mentioned, and there was nothing about the late Prince.
We could understand if the acts themselves could not attend because of touring or other commitments, but why was there not even a modern artist there to sing one of their songs?
It seemed that ABC was really holding back on this episode.
3 ½ LPs (out of 5)
Predictions: Next week’s show will highlight music between 1990 and 1995. We really want to see some grunge rock bands, like Soundgarden, R.E.M., and the Smashing Pumpkins. Since the whole band cannot make it, we would like to see someone else perform Nirvana. The 90s was also famous for the intense rivalry between east and west coast rap, so we might see a tribute to some of the big names, like Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., and N.W.A.
We will end this review with a great quote from Bret Michaels during this episode:
“Music is all what you need it to be to fit your life, and to me, life without music would truly suck.”
Be on the lookout for our review of episode four of Greatest Hits!
Featured photo courtesy of Byron Cohen, ABC, and Tribune News Service.