It was a dark and stormy night. My Pandora station based on Europe’s The Final Countdown could have gone in any direction.
It all started off innocent enough: The Final Countdown was followed by Journey’s Separate Ways, which I gave an enthusiastic thumbs up to. I rode this wave of enthusiasm through Civil War, by Guns N’ Roses, which I also gave a thumbs up to. I tolerated Runaway, by Bon Jovi.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door. Who could it be, I thought? The knocks echoed against the 80s low-quality sound recording, simple melodies, and extensive vamping. I stood up slowly and made my way across my apartment to the door, where the ominous sounds were coming from.
“Fed Ex!” came a voice from the other side.
I signed for the package and journeyed back to my computer to find that Runaway had given way to What is Love? by Haddaway, which I of course gave a thumbs up to. Little did I know that this simple act would lead me down a rabbit hole to a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. Of course, I’m talking about 90s Eurodance.
I opened my package and discovered a long-awaited book, purchased from Amazon.com several days before. As I perused its pages, in the background Pandora commenced its onslaught of repetitive, upbeat, nineties German dance club music. Be My Lover by La Bouche was next.
Frank Farian, the man behind Boney M and Milli Vanilli, rolled out his ’90s equivalent, La Bouche, in 1995. Based in Germany (though both are American), vocalist Melanie Thornton and rapper Lane McCray hit number one throughout Europe and Canada with their singles “Sweet Dreams” and “Be My Lover.” In 1995, the duo released their first American single, “Tonight Is the Night” for Logic Records. Blending R&B, house and pop, Sweet Dreams appeared in September of 1995, produced by Farian; All Mixed Up appeared in 1996, followed a year later by Moment of Love. In 1998, La Bouche issued S.O.S. On November 24, 2001, Thornton was killed in a plane crash in Switzerland — she had been travelling from Berlin to Zurich for a performance when the plane went down, killing her and the 23 other passengers.
Pandora’s box was opened. I was captivated with my new discovery and began to forget all the things that were important to me. I couldn’t believe this music even existed.
“Did you just skip over Guns N’ Roses and thumbs up Real McCoy?” my wife asked, incredulously and with more than a shade of disappointment and disgust.
I realized I was sick. Very sick. Was this rock bottom?
Finally, my brain’s fail safe mechanism began to kick in. All the things that were important to me in childhood came back with lucid fury. I remembered playing tag in kindergarten, climbing Mt. Monadnock with friends, and baseball fantasies. I was running out to the pitcher’s mound to close out a very tight game, adrenaline flowing, the crowd in anticipation, AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells blasting through the stadium sound system.
Suddenly, Brian Johnson’s aggressive screech with ominous bells tolling began to be replaced by lines from rapper Lane McCray:
I must confess
Girl, yes, I wanna be your lover
Take a chance, my love is like no other
On the dancefloor getting down
Hold tight, I’ll never let you down
My love is definitely the key
Like Boyz II Men I’m on bended knee
Loving you, not like your brother, aw yeah
I wanna be your lover.
I began to laugh, and this laughter freed me from my dark fantasy. I just couldn’t imagine Curt Schilling sprinting out from the bullpen, blood gushing from his ankle, to win the World Series for the Red Sox, fans screaming, with La Bouche up on the Jumbotron.
Indeed, I can think of no more inappropriate song for the moment of truth. Can you?