Sunday, October 12, 2014

Martika-Martika (1988)


'Won't you come out and play with me?'. For the longest time when I was a kid, that was the one line from the haunting chorus to the 1988 hit "Toy Soldiers" that would always scare me—not enough to keep me up at night (a myriad of other silly things caused that), but it did give me the chills. Well, when you're a kid, lots of things gives you the creeps (and now I'm thinking about all of those old "Nightmare On Elm Street" movies that I had no business watching back in the 80's). Really, the whole song is haunting, if you pay attention to the main lyrics. Though I had no idea Martika's idea behind the words were about battling drug addiction (now that's scary!) until many years into my adulthood. I can think of a few songs with similar themes to "Toy Soldiers" that I loved for ages and didn't realize had a grisly message embedded in them until I actually paid attention to what the singer was saying: Patti LaBelle's "Yo Mister", Amy Grant's "Ask Me"..... But I think the majority of us pop music lovers took the song for what is was and what it still is to me: a great pop ballad with terrific screaming vocals by Martika! But those kids chanting 'won't you come out and play with me?' and the 'step by step, heart to heart, left right left, we all fall down'? Yep, it still haunts me. But that's only one chilling moment you'd have to endure on this otherwise deliciously fun album! When you love every song from top to bottom, you know that you're either addicted to the music or you're in pop heaven.....or maybe just a little of both! You know it was the good ole 80's when you have cute, perky love songs comparing romance to Tarzan and Jane, as is the theme of the guilty pleasure that is the opener. I like the part is when those guys on backup after the main chorus chant 'oh-wee-oh-wee-oh', like those castle guards did back in the "Wizard Of Oz" movie. "Cross My Heart" is my #1 favorite; the beat is soooooooooooo catchy, and Martika's voice is just soooooooooooo powerful! There's no doubt that she loves her guy here, boldly declaring that she'll cross her heart, hope to die and ask lightning to strike if she's telling a lie. "See If I Care" is my #2 favorite; just like "Cross My Heart", the beat is soooooooooooo catchy here also, and Martika's voice is just as powerful! The lyrics are fun, too—like a 'love test' of sorts, as Martika dares the guy to kiss her and hug her, and find out what'll happen as a result. Oops, I forgot to rank "Toy Soldiers" (i'm getting haunted again) and "If You're Tarzan, I'm Jane" on my list of favorites; they're #3 and #6, respectively. So what's #4 and #5? That would be the funky jam "It's Not What You're Doing" (I like how Martika practically repeats the lyrics in reverse during the main chorus, saying 'it's what you're not doing, baby' in opposing response to the title of this song) and the jubilant "You Got Me Into This" (got her into this love, she declares), respectively. It's almost too difficult putting the last four at the bottom of the ranking list, as I like them all equally and there being something about each one that stands out. The main chorus to "More Than You Know" has a warming vibe about it while cooled-down, graceful tempo and melody to "Water" is simply warming and sweet all together. "Alibis" is another perky dance-pop treat that packs a jubilant punch just like "You Got Me Into This". Then as for "I Feel The Earth Move"? For the longest time, I didn't even know it was a cover of a Carole King classic (and that early 70's original sounds as sweet today as I'm sure it did way back when!). Had believed Martika was the original singer, then thought the SAW-produced British pop trio BIG FUN were the ones who covered it first (I love their pop version as well). Martika's take on it is nothing short of pop-tastic, as are the rest of the songs on this memorable 1988 gem:

1. If You're Tarzan, I'm Jane
2. Cross My Heart
3. More Than You Know
4. Toy Soldiers
5. You Got Me Into This
6. I Feel The Earth Move
7. Water
8. It's Not What You're Doing
9. See If I Care
10. Alibis

No comments: