Certain Songs #1073: Magnapop – “Favorite Writer”

Album: Magnapop
Year: 1992

Once upon a time, there was a band from Athens, Georgia called Oh-OK. Of course, once upon a time, there were so many bands from Athens they made a documentary about it, largely because of the popularity of two bands you might have heard of, R.E.M. and The B-52’s.

Oh-OK had already broken up by that time, so none of their members were in the documentary, and they would have been a footnote if not for who was actually in the band at the time of their Mitch Easter-produced Furthermore What EP, which got decent traction on KFSR in 1983 because of the catchiness of a future Certain Song called “Such ‘n’ Such,” which happened to be written — but not sung! — by their bassist, Lynda Stipe.

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Certain Songs #1072: Madonna – “Ray of Light”

Album: Ray of Light
Year: 1998

I’m obviously not to be trusted on this subject, but not only do I think that “Ray of Light” is Madonna’s greatest song — over 15 years into her career! — it’s one of the greatest songs of the 1990s, if not the whole 20th fucking century.

A mongrel mashup of pop, rock, and techno (and you might notice some sneaky trip-hop beats snuck in there as well), “Ray of Light” sounds like it was beamed in from the 25th century. The good parts of the 25th century.

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Certain Songs #1071: Madonna – “Express Yourself”

Album: Like a Prayer
Year: 1989

While the massive gospely title track to Madonna’s 1989 Like a Prayer album got all of the attention because of the controversy surrounding the “blasphemous” imagery of the video — and it went to number one anyways — “Express Yourself” is the one that eventually got to me.

It could just be me, but I hear classic girl-group Motown all over this one, like a huge Diana Ross and the Supremes — updated, of course, for the late 1980s dancefloor — empowerment anthem. With an absolutely massive singalong chorus.

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Certain Songs #1070: Madonna – “Who’s That Girl”

Album: Who’s That Girl
Year: 1987

As no doubt has been incredibly obvious over the past thousand-plus songs, dance music has never been my forte. But it was obvious from the first time that I saw the “Lucky Star” video on the MTV that Madonna Louise Ciccone was going to be somebody to reckon with.

And so when Like a Virgin came out, I snagged a promo copy from KFSR to see if I could make heads or tails out of it, and while I could understand why “Material Girl” and “Like a Virgin” were great pop songs, they didn’t really do it for me, even as she battled Michael Jackson, Prince, & Bruce Springsteen for mid-80s inescapability.

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Certain Songs #1069: Made For TV – “So Afraid of the Russians”

Single, 1983

I know that you Millennials will never understand this, but worrying about the Russians, and what the Russians might do was a huge preoccupation for young people during the early 1980s. It was weird living in a world where we we were constantly that our crazy President would get us into a nuclear war with a hostile country.

But, of course, given that “nuclear paranoia songs from the 1980s” is definitely one of the larger sub-genres of Certain Songs please forgive me as I discuss this anachronistic song that was at least a minor hit during the early KFSR days.

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