I was channel flipping the other day, and stopped for a moment to indulge both my love of music videos and love of really bad music. The 80s were a great time for both.
This song really doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, which is sort of its appeal. I think. It is catchy. I’m also pretty sure Grace Slick was probably high on something at the time. It seems to want to be a protest against the ever-increasing corporatization of rock music, but comes out as incomprehensible pop glop. There’s a very tiny trace of the rebellion that once made the band that Slick sang for one of the symbols of rebellion and counterculturalism in the 60s.
Of course by the time “We Built This City” was released in 1985 that band had long since mutated into pop glop and had virtually disappeared. The Jefferson Airplane was one of the leading bands of psychedelic rock–the aforementioned symbol of rebellion and counterculturalism. They were also one of the few commercially successful psychedelic bands, so I guess pop glop was always in their veins. In the 70s, they made their first major transition into the Jefferson Starship and became even more poppy and gloppy. Marty Balin and Paul Kantner and Jorma Kaukonen escaped, but Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas (Balin’s replacement on vocals) hung around. “Jefferson” was dropped, and the band just became Starship in the 1980s. And the rest is pop glop history.
Really, most of Starship’s output is gloriously awful. (Have you ever heard the song they did for the 80s “classic” Mannequin? Well, you’re in for a pop treat that so sugary and gloppy, it might as well be the filling inside a pecan pie. Not even the utterly adorable Andrew McCarthy at the height of his adorableness could save that movie.) None of their music has aged especially well. Which is too bad, I guess. It really is quite catchy.