“Modern Love” by David Bowie from the album Let’s Dance
Second Week in April, 1983
“It’s not really work …”
This pop ditty was the second smash single from the new healthy, poppy, and straight David Bowie. For this video his hair went from blonde to yellow. His suit went from white to blue. And his demeanor went from coldly detached to shake your booty freestylin’ fun.
If “Modern Love” were food, it would be a sugar-coated gum drop, dipped in chocolate, and wrapped in cotton candy. If it were a pet it would be a miniature poodle in a sweater. If it were footwear, it would be sparkly elfin shoes. “Modern Love” is pop music. Short, simple, and bouncy. It makes ABBA’s stuff look like the work of a bunch of depressive Swedes obsessed with esoteric experimental music.
Does it suck? NO! That is the genius of David Bowie. But how? How does David keep this Monkees reject of a song from putting listeners into a diabetic sugar coma? I think it’s the dark spoken word opening. Setting the template for Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, Bowie opines in a deep dark voice: “I don’t want to go out. I want to stay in. Get things done.” Based on those three sentences, the listener is convinced that the work to be done involves scalpels, duct tape and kittens, but no. It’s the segue to a love song. Or a song about love, anyway.
What a relief. The kittens are safe. Yay! Now we can shake our collective ass in a pastel suit for the next three minutes. At least until “China Girl,” the next song on the album where Bowie, with “visions of swastikas in [his] head,” threatens to “ruin everything you are.”
Best Moment: “I don’t want to go out. I want to stay in. Get things done.”