Back in the ’80s, the Museum Of Modern Art curated a show of what they felt were the most innovative and exciting music videos available up to that point. It was called “Music Video: The Industry and Its Fringes”, a title which while it did not scream FUN, intrigued me. I was a young, obsessed MTV watcher at the time which meant I just had to see it. I went in knowing that they probably wouldn’t be featuring my beloved Duran Duran or Culture Club, this was an art museum after all, but hoped there would be a song or a someone I’d never seen that I could potentially fall in love with ( hopefully British with a big, fat synthesizer and frosted tips). That didn’t happen. I was instead confronted with this disturbing, well, something. Amongst the slate of videos was one for a song called “Frankie Teardrop” by the NYC duo Suicide ( neither of which I’d heard of at the time). I found both the song and video supremely unsettling.
“Frankie Teardrop” was not a pop song. It was a sinister, repetitive electronic drone with a creepily fey vocal about a guy who’d finally reached his breaking point and committed an unspeakable act. It was 10 minutes of blood curdling screams and menace and a very long way from my favored musical candies like Men At Work and Madonna. The video, which you can check out above, with its blurry images of child mannequins, James Dean, crabs, rats, desolate streets and anonymous faces went a long way to maximizing the terror of the song.
It rattled me. It gave me the chills and blotted out all of the videos that came before or after it. No new pop babes for me. All I could think about after watching the 30+ clips on offer was “Frankie Teardrop”. It lingered and haunted. Frankie, Frankie, Frankie.
Something about “Frankie Teardrop” turned my head around. Even though I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to play it, I bought the Suicide album it came from. For some reason I had to have it. And a week later I decided I had to see the video again and so returned to MOMA for that sole reason.
The world’s most popular Suicide fan boy, Bruce Springsteen, once said about “Frankie”; “Oh, my God! That’s one of the most amazing records I think I ever heard. I love that record”. Bruce loves Frankie.
Anyway, I was talking about “Frankie” to a friend last night and the weird sensation of revering a song, being fascinated by its every molecule but not really wanting to hear it (or see it) often, if at all. All these years later I still vividly recall the shock and surprise of it, how it shook my pop music perceptions around, discovering that a song could actually scare you, make you feel so weird. It was unnerving…and totally amazing.
Right, enough stream of consciousness craziness 😉 I now invite you to check out the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the best new songs we’ve heard over the recent cold and rainy days. It was a very POP week, full of hooks and swoon-worthy sugary tunes. All great and all surely occupying the #1 spot on the chart over on earth 2. You can listen below on Soundcloud or Spotify. We’re all Frankies.
Listen on Soundcloud
Listen on Spotify