I’ve spent an awful lot of time this year memorializing people in popular culture. I am really sick of it. There’s still a couple of months left in the year, and I’m kind of still waiting for the other shoe to drop; I’ve had this terrible feeling that as bad as it’s been for music and other arts, it’s just gonna get worse somehow. I really, really, really hope I’m wrong.
Sadly, I’m not wrong today. The news has come out that music has lost two very different sorts of Pop singers.
First up is Bobby Vee, who passed as a result of Alzheimer’s complications. Vee was a teen idol in the early 60s, when the music industry had, temporarily at least, managed to sanitize and contain Rock & Roll into safe, marketable, bland Pop stars. It didn’t take, thank goodness, but during this more gentle time in music history, Bobby Vee and his clean-cut ilk ruled the airwaves. His music isn’t to my taste, but that doesn’t mean it’s less entertaining than anything else. His music has a nice doc-wop quality that makes it quite listenable.
The other Pop singer we lost today is, visually and stylistically at least, on the opposite end of the spectrum. Dead or Alive had a big hit in the 80s with “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” and singer Pete Burns made the most of it. His flamboyant style was perfect for the big hair, big money, big gloss decade of my adolescence. This song happens to be a favorite of mine. Bouncy and dancey with just enough sex and menace to make people nervous.
Neither one of these performers was currently on the cultural radar, but then again, not much else is right now besides the election. But for their brief times on top, they both shone like stars.