Wednesday, 22 July 2009

1986 Berlin: Take My Breath Away

There are certain occasions within these years where typically 'eighties' keynotes and milestones cross like ley lines to produce an all encompassing iconic statement of the decade wherein the various component parts become inseparable from each other. Think of De Lorean cars and you get 'Back To The Future', think of Michael Jackson and you get Moonwalking. And vice versa. Think of 'Take My Breath Away' and it automatically leads to that paean to homoerotic men in their flying machines that is 'Top Gun'.

Subtitled 'Love Theme From Top Gun', 'Take My Breath Away' isn't quite the predictable power ballad you might expect. It doesn't conform to the standard slowburn verse building to a pant ripping chorus format that is beloved of the genre. Instead, it moves in languid, otherworldly fits and starts on the wave of a hypnotically loping bass motif that descends to keep Terri Nunn's breathlessly wandering lead vocal
in check . The effect is a dreamlike sensation, a structureless structure that in parts recalls the Cocteau Twins at their most conservative; it's not something anyone makes a beeline for on the karaoke machine at an eighties night.

At yet at its core, and for all Ms Nunn's sterling efforts, the vistas and expanses of 'Take My Breath Away' fail to stir any emotion other than mild boredom. It's a track specifically engineered to soundtrack scenes of long, meaningful looks under wide open skies, slo-mo explosions and dresses fluttering evocatively in the wind. In that aspect it works just fine, but in that aspect too it's as mechanical as the F14's that dart around in the background while all this is going on. Every note sounds as if it's been carefully generated by an 'eighties musical gimmick' machine cranked up to 10 to fit a pre-set template based on visuals, leaving Nunn howling into a void that lacks a single human touch.

That touch is something you have to add yourself and it makes 'Take My Breath Away' an experience b
est enjoyed solo, preferably through headphones while playing out a starring role in your own head movie as you gaze out the window of the 7am train taking you to work. Unless of course you do fly fighter planes for a living, in which case it's the best song ever recorded

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