Since last week, I have been watching episodes of the 80s’ cartoon show Jem (and the Holograms) daily. Although I was born about a year after the last episode aired, it wasn’t hard to learn about the show, thanks to Wikipedia and other sources. I have been enjoying the show due to it being a 80s’ cartoon (and I am a huuuuuuuuuuge fan of this decade). But, the characters are also interesting, and the plots are simple to understand yet amusing. However, the best part of Jem is the music.
I have been listening to various Jem songs every day during breakfast time. There are a lot of great songs; so it will be hard to write about one specific song. I might have to write a blog series on Jem songs because I love each one. But today, I will pick a song from the band Jem and one from their rivals, the Stingers. If you don’t know the story of Jem, let me give you a quick summary: it is center around a young woman named Jem, who goes by the real name of Jerrica, and her sisters; they form a musical band called “Jem and the Holograms”. Jerrica, with her three sisters, stumble on Synergy — a program that was created by Jerrica’s father and can produce holograms anywhere — who helps Jerrica transform into Jem. The original purpose of the band was to beat The Misfits, Jem’s rival, in a “Battles of the Band” contest for Jerrica to regain total control over her late father’s music company. However, the band continued on as they enjoyed performing, then became very popular, and in further episodes, the girls went on photo shoots, performed overseas, and starred in films while encountering more problems from their rivals.
Phew! Now that you understand the basic story we can talk about the songs. The first one that I want to introduce is called “Time Is Runnin’ Out”. The first thing that I like is the opening; the soulful female “woos”. This song reminds me somehow of Teena Marie; maybe it`s just the brazen vocals or maybe the funky beat melded into the tune. I feel like “Time Is Runnin’ Out” is a 80s’ funk tune: the background vocals singing the “woos”, starlight synthesized two-beat sound slicing in during specific periods, and the prominent use of the bass, electronic drums and synthesizers over the more traditional guitar.
The other thing that catches my ear (get the pun?) is the lyrics. Now, most Jem songs were written to be part of the plot; as for the case of “Time Is Runnin’ Out”, it about was saving Synergy from the CIA or rushing to design outfits before a big contest. However, the lyrics can apply to real life situation. For me, I think the message is essential: you cannot give up, you have to try your best. I feel like this song is relevant in today’s world, especially with one major world event this past week.
Continuing on the funk “train”, let me introduce “Perfect Match” by The Stingers. I am pretty much indecisive between this song and another Stingers’ song named “Destiny” when it comes to a favorite piece by the dramatic band. “Destiny” reminds me of something that Barry Manilow would sing: a little rockish, a little popish, and mellow. Well, maybe not too mellow; “Destiny” is still keep an upbeat tempo to keep the audience entertained, but it’s not over-the-top like a Guns ‘n’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle”. Same goes for “A Perfect Match”.
However, as I sit here and write this blog post, “Perfect Match” keeps on playing over and over in my head. The piece seduces me with the soulful yet funky vocals by Vicki Sue Robinson (yes, the one who sang the original “Turn the Beat Around” in the 70s). The blazing guitar riffs playing during the sub-chorus is a really nice touch, it adds something unique (who would have thought to add a blazing electric guitar to a funk tune?) yet not too over-the-top.
Now, not all the songs from the Jem cartoon were all funk; some were rock, some were pop, some were power ballads, and even some were freestyle. If you think of a genre, style, or singer that was popular in the 80s, you can hear it incorporated into a Jem song. And, even to this day, these tunes are still an earworm for those who grew up with the cartoon and those who are discovering it for the first time.
What is your favorite Jem song?