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Ogden Morrow’s ‘80s Dance Party Playlist

Get invited to the party that chooses this playlist.

Music Press Asia Playlist Ernest Cline

We Can Dance If We Want To

I cannot believe I’m about to satisfy my utmost obsession for the ‘80s right here at Music Press Asia. When I first suggested to its editors that I was about to curate the ideal party music, my mind drifted to a fictional character from Ernest Cline’s incredibly contemporary book ‘Ready Player One’. Ogden Morrow isn’t, to say the least, a dominant character with many words, but he’d be the one that hosted one of the most glorious dance party mixing a cyberpunk theme with an ‘80s music playlist.

This list isn’t anything new to those who had already read the book. But if you’re just curious as to what the list really contains, then I’d say you’d better put your dancing shoes on. Ernest Cline’s selection isn’t in any way quirky, but it is certainly eccentric – just like the rest of the music selected for this book. I owe it to the editorial team at Music Press Asia to allow my unconventional fetishes for a fictional character (also made into a movie by Steven Spielberg) to manifest through its music. I may have just tipped the iceberg, but I hope you’ll read ‘Ready Player One’ and share with us your number one song. It may prove to be a challenging mini-project, but let me assure you that it would be thoroughly rewarding nonetheless.

The first tune from Chapter 18 is the ‘88 remix of New Order’s “Blue Monday”. Cline’s capacity to describe the sound is intimidatingly meticulous. Describing the 7-minute long tune, he omitted the dreary murmur that practically appears in almost all tunes produced during that particular era. Although I’ve never been a true fan of electronic dance music, I find myself nodding to the repetitive rhythm described by Cline as ‘with a lot of Star Wars droid sound samples mixed in’. Its confession to this narrative is nothing less than orgasmic.

As our leading character walked towards the bar at the party and after that ordered a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, I am reunited with one of Duran Duran’s many classics, “Union of the Snake”. Released in 1983, its music video is dutiful workmanship that fulfills everything a sci-fi contemporary would appeal to today. With sets interchangeably between the Australian desert and an abandoned warehouse, it was to be the first of a trilogy involving a lost document and subterranean worlds.

The party warms up with its first official track selected specially by the old wizard. A dance remix of “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol could rouse any dull party just from its lyrics alone. It wouldn’t be a party if it isn’t in any way unruly in nature. It is indeed a brave track to begin with; one which sets the tone for what our selfish-self naively want. It was a difficult track to like. But its strength lies in its chorus. Singing ‘In the midnight hour she cried more, more, more’, is undoubtedly a legitimate howl some of us are experiencing in the endemic. Click repeat ten more times.

The apex of the party is also the best part when Og took a bow and queued up a slow song. “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper according to YouTube even surpassed Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’. Lauper’s song represents the poignant affections of a hopeful friendship. Aptly disconcerting but unmistakably the right song that will put a friendship to the test. Reading between the lines, the lyrics are opening lines to a brawl that will soon pull the lovers apart. In this case, a somber prologue to what is to come.

[Time After Time is released by Epic Records in 1984.]

A breakup is always tough because good times are really just a temporary reward to those ready to face the music. “James Brown Is Dead” by L.A. Style is perhaps a stark testament to how classic dance music is evolving in the late ‘90s. Its heavily repetitive theme weighs on the dance floor culminates alongside a dividing pact. Do you taste that bitterness on the back of your tongue? The jangling sensitivity of pain is definitely not something we all like to experience.

The very last song on this list is probably the most controversial. I haven’t been able to work out why Cline would have chosen this song. But it would have been the perfect choice as Art3mis’ exit song. Leaving the protagonist, Wade, at the height of the party is as rebellious as Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”. But this time it’s Blondie’s turn. The song “Atomic” holds a great signifier of power and futurism. With elements mixing new wave, rock, and disco, and written in E natural minor, it is a song described by Cash Box as “the rock-dance fission, or rather fusion, with the ‘60s inspired surf guitars and ground zero drumming.” An epic exodus nonetheless.

Link to playlist below:

Blue Monday by New Order

Union of the Snake by Duran Duran

Rebel Yell by Billy Idol

Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper

James Brown Is Dead by L.A. Style

Atomic by Blondie


For more authentic reviews and comments about Ernest Cline’s fiction ‘Ready Player One’, visit Bookreporter’s official website here.

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