Sunday, March 6, 2016

"I've seen the future, I can't afford it"

Neoliberal premonitions in ABC's "How To Be A Millionaire"  from 1985, sampled on Orbital's "Omen" of  1990

I've seen the future, I can't afford it
Tell me the truth sir, someone just bought it
Say mr. whispers! Here come the click of dice
Roulette and blackjacks - gonna build us a paradise
Larger than life and twice as ugly
If we have to live there, you'll have to drug me
Maybe these luxuries can only compensate
For all the cards you were dealt at the hands of fate
So tell me
Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire
Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire!
Millionaire! Billionaire! Trillionaire!
Hardly surprising if you might consider
Loyalties go to the highest of bidders
What's my opinion? I'd give you ten to one
Give me a million, a franchise on fun
But there are millions who often get nowhere
And there's just one secret I think you should share

Another phrase from that ABC song -- "you'll have to drug me" - crops up in this darkside tune

I already discussed the strangeness of there even being an a cappella version of "Millionaire" in existence, ABC's blatant heisting of the Shannon sound, and other quandaries here

I suppose "Millionaire" was a sister record to "Everything Counts" by Depeche Mode, wasn't it? But instead of the boys from Basildon (that crucial swing seat) and their desolate melancholy about Thatcher's reelection, this is a brash, outwardly upful and go-getting sound with ironic lyrics - the strategy less critique (as with the failed railing against monetarism on Beauty Stab) than a kind of simulation.

Wall Street was only a few years from coming out

I've almost interested myself enough in How To Be A Zillionaire - which I never bothered with at the time - to pick it up the next time I see it going for $2 here.

Or perhaps there's no need...

I did like the single, though

Another group I had given up on by then - Heaven 17, with How Men Are

Their own Beauty Stab moment had been this tune

One of those albums where the cover warns you off

I'm not honestly sure if I ever listened to this - "Temptation" had been enough of a turn-off to make me steer clear, along with the plodding single "Come Live With Me". Still that is quite fickle given how much I'd caned Penthouse and Pavement only a year earlier. But things moved fast in those days....

Good Christ almighty I have somehow never seen this video or known it existed

This can't be an official video

Actually interviewed H17 in my first year as a music journalist, around this single + the Pleasure One album, by which point they seemed a tentative and vaguely crestfallen bunch, aware their moment had passed.... for that album they'd unwisely switched to a conventional instruments sound.  Single peaked at #80, album at #78....

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