I think it may have arrived, the moment I’ve been anticipating for a while now… The official start of the 1980s.
Too Shy, by Kajagoogoo (their 1st and only #1)
2 weeks, 13th – 27th February 1983
This is the most eighties chart-topper yet. Everything here has been filtered through some kind of ‘80s-ifier: the synths, the electronic drums, the bass, the icy piano… And that’s before you get to the band’s hair-dos… Just look at those mullets! I really like the intro, though: the slow build up and funky bass riff. There’s also a killer, if slightly nonsensical, chorus: You’re too shy shy, Hush hush, Eye to eye…
Singer Limahl’s delivery is also very of its time. It’s very arch, very airy and knowing. I don’t want to plant the ‘New Romantic’ flag, as I don’t think Kajagoogoo were quite that, but that’s where we’re heading. The rest of this song, though…? It’s OK. The nice touches aren’t enough to cover up the fact that it’s a bit lightweight, and a bit dull in places. I’ve heard of ‘landfill indie’… Can this be ‘landfill eighties’?
While the song is fine, we have to take a moment to examine the band name. Potentially one of the worst band names in history? It’s based on the sounds babies make, apparently. Before Kajagoogoo they were known as ‘Art Nouveau’, which is the sort of name you’d give a fictional parody of a new-wave band. They weren’t around for very long. Limahl left after just two years as lead-singer, citing personality differences, and the band officially spilt up in 1985.
I do think this is a moment where any remnants of what went before have been ditched. There’s no disco here, no post-punk or soft rock. Just pure and unadulterated eighties. Even the big, decade-specific acts we’ve met so far – Adam Ant, Culture Club, Human League – didn’t have the mid-eighties glossiness that ‘Too Shy’ has. But I think we’re set now, and about to foray into the deepest depths of it.
And I have to admit that I’m making that statement not based solely on this one record – though it is very now. I’m also making it with one eye on the chart-toppers that will immediately follow. The next five number ones will feature either some of the decade’s biggest stars, or its biggest songs. Kajagoogoo’s ‘Too Shy’ is the appetiser to a giant ‘80s feast that is on its way…