Belinda Carlisle: secret pop genius

After listening to “Mad About You,” “Leave a Light On,” “Circle in the Sand” (“…captures the chill of the abandoned beach with considerably more acuity than ‘La Isla Bonita’ — Marcello Carlin). “Summer Rain,” “I Get Weak,” and the heavenly “Heaven is a Place on Earth” in this order, I’m ready to defend Belinda Carlisle as a fantastic singles artist. That wobbly, tentative vibrato, cushioned by multitracked vocals arranged by Rick Nowels and Ellen Shipley, brought something believably adolescent out of her. When she falls in love, I feel it. Tom Ewing on “Heaven…”: “beyond the echo and the heads-down chugalong rhythm there’s hints of the spirit of ’84 about “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” – that giddy season of American music when rock and pop and disco and funk all melted together under the MTV studio lights; what the US did instead of New Pop.” Discuss?

PS: George Harrison, not known for kind words to pop dollies, played an excellent slide guitar on “Leave a Light On.”

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One Response to Belinda Carlisle: secret pop genius

  1. Tim Ellison says:

    Appreciate you writing about this stuff, Alfred. Don’t know it that well but in listening now, it seems to me that the Nowels/Shipley songwriting is maybe the element in question as to whether its analogous to New Pop or not. I guess if you hear it as old school M.O.R., then no, it’s not really New Pop, but I don’t know if that’s what it is! Feels like I’m hearing a pretty big classicist strain in a song like “Leave a Light On” – as in 1960s – but it’s not explicit at all. Also sounds very modern as a composition!

    Think I am becoming a fan and am wondering about where they were coming from.

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