Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Whoa!Totally #2: Calvin Harris' "Acceptable in the 80's"

I dare you to listen to this song once and not immediately listen to it at least three more times. It's stoopid, it's infectious, and it's just so damn rad. You'll be going around for the rest of the day thinking "I've got luv for you, if you were born in the eight-tays, the eight-tays!" and it will be utterly impossible to feel sad on this grey December day.

That's why Calvin Harris' "Acceptable in the 80's" is today's Whoa!Totally.

Dare I admit that I was in Urban Outfitters when I first heard this song? I admit it: I like flat shoes, tight jeans, and skinny boys in fat ironic scarves who eat cupcakes then go throw them up. Anyway, there I was: loving the neon sunglasses, and loving the smell of the sample perfume in the plastic bottle that’s supposed to make me smell like a 12 year-old virgin who really, really likes Japanese food. It’s called “Miso Pretty” and I covet it, like I covet the music in Urban Outfitters, which I can only describe as ironic electroclash 80s throwback british invasion post-techno…techno songs? With lyrics like “I am in the in-dust-ry, you are in the in-dust-ry, we are in the in-dus-try, this is the in-dus-try!” and then the ultimate 80s throwback song begins. It’s Calvin Harris’ “Acceptable in the 80s” and if you haven’t heard it, you haven’t lived. The basic premise is this: Calvin Harris has LOVE for you IF you were born in the 80s, and he’ll do THINGS for you, but ONLY if you were born in the 80s.

Now maybe you don’t understand the cognitive dissonance I'm experiencing at this point: I’m standing in the 80s afterlife TRYING NOT TO DANCE, for there is no dancing allowed in Urban Outfitters. It may have been acceptable in the 80s, but it isn’t now, and I love Calvin Harris for writing this song but it's completely unrequited love because I was born in, well... the 70s.

And as I'm trying to navigate these feelings, 2 girls standing next to me (who were probably born in the 90s) pick up a Joy Division t-shirt that’s undergone Urban Outfitters’ “shirt-surgery”—it’s been cut, slashed, twisted and tied. It says “Transmission 1979” on it and one girl worries that if she buys it people will mistake her for someone old enough to have been at the concert, but the other girl assures her, "no, people’ll just take it ironically, or like your mother saw them or something." Girl 1 asks girl 2 if the band is called "Transmission" and the album is called Joy Division, or vice versa. Girl 2 says “who cares, it’s fucking cute.” And they buy it. They buy a $46 t-shirt advertising a band they don’t know and hope nobody thinks they actually saw live.

I can’t afford the shirt, or the exposure through its many slashes and gashes, or my sudden irrelevance as I realize what you’ve all figured out already: that the 80s renaissance isn’t actually for me. If you remember the 80s and enjoy its return with any sort of sincerity or sentiment, you can go throw yourself under a bus. It doesn't matter whether you were the school champion of tight-rolling your jeans, or hairspraying your bangs to look like the Sidney Opera house, or rocking the jelly-shoes. You can try to make yourself smell like a 12 year-old virgin who really, really loves Japanese food, but you still have the irrevocable stench of your 70s birth on you: it smells like John Denver & Melba toast... You’re just too old, and maybe Calvin Harris doesn’t love you. But he can't stop you from loving the hell out of his song and playing it repeatedly on the big pink jambox of your soul!


  1. Wait, wait, wait. If you were BORN in the 80's it's a safe bet that you weren't fully EXPERIENCING the 80's, right? I don't think he's put much thought into his rules.

    That said, thanks for fucking up my Pandora selections with this song today. Goes good with Cake (and probably cake).

  2. Whoa!Totally just became my new favorite blog.

  3. Yay, C9! I'll do my best to keep it at the top of your list.

    And yes, Valis, I've thought deeply (a little too deeply) about the 80s dilemma. I have two possible answers to your question. Even if you're too young to have fully experienced a decade, can't being born in it still leave an indelible mark on you? I mean, I was born in the late 70s. Thus, I don't remember the 70s much, but it left its time-stamp on my soul. Or perhaps (and this is a stretch) Calvin Harris means it figuratively? Like, he's got love for you if you "came-of-age" in the 80s, or if you're a "product of" the 80s. But, if this is the case, perhaps I'm *too young* because I started 6th grade in 1989! Wishful thinking, I'm afraid. Calvin Harris was born in 1984. I think he means it literally.

  4. Nah, you're right in the pocket. But you know, he might be onto something. I was born in 1970, and I'm sure I'm not the first one to observe that the 80's are best experienced in hindsight. I know I was listening to Led Zeppelin and doing my best to ignore them while they were actually happening. Took me ten years to even admit that I owned a Men Without Hats album.

  5. Giving love to the indelible impression a decade leaves upon individuals too young to actually experience said decade is surely the intent here. This song is definitely for kids who came of age in the late nineties and early aughts.

    We got to (re)discover Black Sabbath and Blondie in high school. They get Poison*

    Though this does get muddled a bit considering Ian Curtis met with the noose in 1980. Maybe there's love if you were dead in the 80s too?

    *But Rick Astley is for everyone.

  6. Mother of mercy, is this the end of hipster irony???
    Actually, I wholeheartedly enjoy your new blogging project; I look at it as a preventative tonic against the would-be hater in all of us.
    As for the eighties, don't worry. You are not too old to relive the 80's; you are too young. I was born in 1965 (call me whatcha like, just don't call me a $%$#&* baby boomer) and 80's nostalgia fits me just fine, like a pair of skinny-ankled, acid-washed jeans.
    Now, if we could only get Laura to eat some seafood...

  7. I wonder what Mr. Harris grasps of what was acceptable in the "ahte-tays" and whether he's, perhaps, secretly conservative. Granted, I came of age with you in the '80s, but I remember how people freaked out when they saw a boy with his left ear pierced or, holy shit, both ears pierced, how the general populous couldn't understand why Boy George would dress the way he did and feel he had to use "boy" as an adjective, and how people longed for the days when Tina Turner kept her hair long, straight, and "white looking." I mean, she got a free pass due to those smokin' legs of hers, but still...

    Wait, what am I saying again? Firefox keeps crashing on me because it blows, so I lost my train of thought.

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