Manly Romantic Advances, Eighties Style (Music)

Male primates exhibited a wide range of mating behaviors during the eighties. Freewheeling, intimidation tactics, overconfidence, guilt trips, and wailing and gnashing of teeth all played their parts. The collective response to these advances was somewhat mixed. All this is evident in the pop music of the day.

Some artists professed a commitment to freedom (“If you love somebody, set them free”) except when emulating Big Brother (“Every breath you take, I’ll be watching you”). Others preferred anonymity: “We may never meet again, so shed your skin and let’s get started”.

Some eschewed freedom in favor of emotional blackmail: “Just say you’ll love me for the rest of your life … ‘Cause I can’t go on if I’m on my own”. This singer will kill himself if his lover leaves, and she’ll have to live with that. Sometimes this disastrous tactic was taken a step further: “I can’t live with or without you”. In other words, go or stay, I’m killing myself no matter what, and it’s all on you. Many lives were lost in this way.

There must have been a lot of rumor mongering and lying going on as well. Some felt remorse: “I’m never gonna dance again, guilty feet have got no rhythm”. Spare a thought for those guilty feet! Others were largely immune to guilt trips, adopting the view that “no one ever is to blame”. The scurrilous behavior did not go unnoticed.

Some guys exhibited a perhaps healthy measure of optimism, confident enough to proclaim such convictions as “I’m your man” or even “I’ve found the perfect way to make the girls go crazy”. But there were also the guys who took this sense of optimism a little too far into the realms of delusion, fancying their chances no matter how long the odds or how tough the competition:

All in all, it was a colorful time of neon and pastels. Sometimes a guy caught a lucky break. Sometimes he didn’t. But it was comparatively rare to be passed over for a dolphin.