April 21, 2003

Pamala Stanley - "Coming Out of Hiding" (1984)

I am sick of the '80s. Except I'm not. I'm sick of other people's '80s -- their relationship to it, their nostalgia for it. I'm sick of hearing that the '80s are "back," you know? Cuz I don't need the mountain brought to me; I'm perfectly content to bring myself there with a drill and a hardhat and accidentally "fall" down a shaft for a few days. So. Now it's 1984 (as Jello Biafra said). So 1984 it's dizzying. "Coming Out of Hiding" is the "I Wanna Love You Forever" to "Flashdance (What a Feeling)"'s "...Baby One More Time." Pamala aspires, wants, longs, to be the transcendent vacu-goddess that twirls the pop moment around her diaphanous shapeshift like a lock of hair around a young girl's finger. She's just a chick, though, like a lot of people are -- they gussy her up but she still looks unspectacularly ethnic, blue-collar, eternally unglamorous, and she sings the same way. Good. Trained. Not great. By no means bad. More than good, even. But about ten degrees left of the big cookie. Ambitious, obviously, but not the kind of ambitious they make movies about. Ambition that shows a healthy work ethic and an "old college try" approach to life, but that's never enough to build a career on, a lasting legacy; there's the one hit, the throes of marginal fame, then the occasional soundtrack work, then she'll spend her remaining years playing the suburban resort circuit, subsisting on the odd trance-remix royalty check. Too bad... she sounds sexy, less self-consumed than Madonna on "Burning Up," about where Regina was (attitudewise) with "Baby Love" but not quite as playfully innocent, perhaps a little weary and hard-knocked, sad. Too sad for the dance floor? Yeah, and probably just sad enough for nostalgia night in Jupiter, Florida. (Pamala who?)