Let's Remember Aretha Before the Year's End

We lost The Queen of Soul this year, and before she becomes just another slide in a "We Remember" segment at a saccharine awards show, perhaps let's revisit one of her smirk-inducing moments from the greatest decade in cultural experimentation: the 1980s. See, a lot of people tried to reinvigorate their 60s and 70s soul careers in the 80s by synthesizing their sound, and for a long time, that music was thought of as dreadful. It's common to hear an aging Bourdain-type at a bar lamenting about all the great records people like Lou Reed and Iggy Pop could have made if they had the nerve to turn down the offer of non-stop gated snares. However, approaching 2019, that sound is as dated as the original ones coming from these artists. Turns out, this Aretha number is actually pretty great once you peel back the expectations of old and the deflating cynicism of the 90s.

However, the sound aside, this video is priceless. Imagine the Vendaface machine from The Muppet Show took place inside a portable stereo, lead by puppet Aretha, and backed up by anthropomorphic transistor sax players. Meanwhile, in the outside world, celebrities of the time such as Rodney Dangerfield, Mark Hamill, and Whitney Houston, are providing their non-Muppet, non-Vendaface'd visages to wink at the viewer. It's all the opulence of the 80s in one video. Aretha not only likely called in a load of favours from her famous friends, but then had the clout not to even have to show up to shoot this thing. That's truly a regal member of the soul kingdom.

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