Monday, August 09, 2010

'80s Music Monday: The Motels

The Motels were one of the most successful New Wave bands to come out of L.A. during the 1980s. They were fronted by the luscious Martha Davis, a beautiful woman with a lovely voice. They had four Top-50 albums and two singles that reached #9 on the charts. Their popularity made them a little unusual among the bands I listened to.

Another thing that made them unusual among the New Wave bands I listened to was that their songs were actually pretty. They tended towards haunted, melancholy love ballads rather than the more up-tempo sounds that I usually preferred. In fact, their two biggest hits, "Only the Lonely" and "Suddenly Last Summer," were more Adult Contemporary than New Wave. I pretended not to notice.

Here's four from the Motels.

"Total Control" (1979)
This is my favorite Motels song now. I love the way Martha sells the emotion in this version. There aren't any histrionics, no vocal fireworks, just a little catch here and a quaver there, but you still almost expect her to burst into tears at any moment. It's a great example of getting more emotion out of less drama.

"Danger" (1980)
This was my favorite Motels song back in the day.

"Only the Lonely" (1982)

"Suddenly Last Summer" (1983)

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