Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Monday, August 25, 2014

When George Michael Was in Wham!

Remember when George was half of Wham! and Andrew Ridgeley was the other half? Here's my never-before-published review of one of their music video collections. I never quite understood why publications seldom reviewed long-form music videos back in the eighties.  Maybe the video manufacturers didn't curry favor with the press, or something.

You're not supposed to take Wham! as contributors to a great art form--their music is meant to be light entertainment.  (The name is Wham! because another group was Wham.)  Their long-form VHS cassette, Wham! The Video (CBS Fox) presents an almost complete collection of their clips.  Unfortunately one of their best, "Young Guns," is missing while "Last Christmas," doesn't truly belong here (it's for the holidays, yeah) but it's included anyway.

What these individual clips demonstrate is that the duo's early punk-like raps remain their best works.  They're fairly well conceptualized and edited, exuding youthful energy.  The later videos and songs (with a few exceptions) lack the proper blend of musical and visual artistry.  George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley apparently don't conceive their own videos, so they're at the mercy of their directors--who many not have an artistic eye for matching visuals with the music.  Best of the more recent songs is "Club Tropicana," and it gets an appropriate setting, with the Wham! boys and their back-up singers, Shirlee and Pepsi, eyeing each other at a posh tropical resort.  By contrast, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "Everything She Wants" are great songs but the videos are very poorly crafted.  Couldn't somebody have come up with anything better?

Wham! routinely gets slammed for appealing to young girls, (So what's wrong with that?)  This package shows there's more to their best work than just good looks.  Even with flaws, here's the kind of fun you can unwind with at the end of a long working day.