I don’t get tunes stuck in my head. They burrow into my brain like ticks, and it takes some serious countermeasures to lodge them loose, like extreme zen-like concentration, or dynamite.
But even worse is when I get a tune stuck in my head that I associate with a particular visual memory. 99 percent of the time, that visual memory is an old TV show or commercial. It’s a bizarre sensory memory, almost Proustian–in that it makes me want to lock myself in a cork-lined room and never come out again.
Since I seem to be the only idiot who remembers the bygone TV fare of yesteryear, there’s usually no point in explaining the whole Madison Avenue spectacle going on in my head. All it does is make me appear more insane than usual, like I’m starring in my own private version of Gaslight. Except I’m not being tortured by a sadistic husband, but my own steel-trap memory (if steel traps only clamped down on pointless garbage).
Why, for instance, can’t I simply get “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang stuck in my head? No, it has to be accompanied by an endless loop of Kool and the Gang dancing with Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets.
Regardless, I want to give you a glimpse of the hell that has been my brain for the last few days. Over the holidays, I heard “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” more than once. So it got stuck in my head, right? Oh, if only t’were so simple!
In the 80s, Disney did weird mashups of its classic cartoons to the tune of contemporary pop hits and bundled them into specials they called DTV. Does anyone remember this? (Answer: No, you don’t. Let’s move on.)
I guess they wanted to expose a new generation of kids to Disney Magic. Why not find a new audience for these cartoons by just, you know, showing the cartoons? Because these kids today, they’re crazy for the music videos, with the Madonna and the Michael Jackson and the Banarama and whatnot. So fuck it, give it to ’em, the little snot noses. See if I care.
I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that mountains of blow were consumed prior to this decision. Or while the specials were assembled. Or while they were approved, or by a vast majority of their adult viewing audience.
The result? Several dozen disemobodied mini-scenes from various Donald Duck cartoons put into an editing blender and poured out onto your TV screen–with “Heart of Rock n Roll” by Huey Lewis and the News as its soundtrack. (Exhibit Q in the eternal case against The Eighties.)
I particularly remember a Valentine’s Day-themed special, and not just because they took scenes from Fantasia and set them to “Hello” by Lionel Richie (much better choice than Stravinsky, of course). The special took a break from ruining classic cartoons to try and ruin both a classic Disney character and a pop tunesmith all at once.
Yes, Elton John recreated his famous duet, with Minnie Mouse singing the Kiki Dee parts. Even as a child–when my threshold for idiocy was much, much higher–I cringed until my teeth hurt. I felt bad not so much for Elton John, or whoever had to work on it, but more for humanity itself.
With this memory plaguing my brain, I decided to look it up on the intertubes and see if some maniac had preserved it, and sure enough someone had. Turns out, the special I remember actually recycled this duet from another special called Totally Minnie. Which I’ve never seen, and thank christ, if this wikipedia description is any indication:
You’re probably tempted to click the link above to watch the video. I beg of you, don’t. I know you think you want to see it, but it’s just gonna make you feel sick and sorry and wrong inside. Like when someone forwards you a link to a horrific sports injury, and you know you will immediately regret viewing it, but you do anyway, and then you feel like a piece of your soul has dried up and floated away like a dead leaf.
If you must know more, just know that Minnie and Elton traipse around a weird boardwalk carnival set with muscly guys in tank tops and weirdos in cotton candy beards. And that Elton John is caught that weird no-man’s land between his 70s wardrobe excesses and 90s respectability. So he doesn’t sport any huge glasses, but he does wear a floppy pink golf hat and matching baggy suit that must have been purchased at the gayest yard sale Jackie Gleason ever had.
I wonder if this was Elton John’s Faustian bargain for the twilight of his career. Look, we’ll make you the new Disney bard. You’ll be relevant and rich again. But you gotta help us remake Minnie Mouse as a Valley Girl. There ain’t no free lunch, Elton.
So this is what has been plaguing my subconscious for the last few days. No, I don’t want your pity. I was once just like you.