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    “I’ve been praying for you for fifty years,” said the elderly woman. My friend Lou looked into her eyes with profound gratitude. He was visiting the Bulgarian village that his...

Reunion Music

Not a review of the Reunion per se, but of the music that made the party.

I pulled into the hotel after a ride through heavy traffic. How many times do you get to step into an event twenty years after you’ve essentially disappeared from the lives of a bunch of people with whom you came of age?

The first thing I noticed were the two promo-girls clad in vintage white and maroon. Then, synthpop was blaring through the door.

I settled in after greeting a lot of long lost classmates. The first full song that the DJ played was a long-forgotten synthpop tune called Six Two Eight. Very Italo-disco and very eighties. This was the right place indeed.

After graduation, the first parties that we began to have were seeking to abandon the recently finished Eighties, but Memories in Monochrome sought to celebrate them to the fullest – and the music was key.

Edwin Cua really nailed it in the AVP – Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now (the theme song from Mannequin) will forever be the tune to which our opening credits played. That was our coming of age song. However cheesy the synthesizers and the lyrics may sound, that tune was the opening salvo of the Kids of ’91.

And, of course, the music continued as we began taking group pictures. I defy anyone not to get misty-eyed when more new wave and synthpop were being played while we were ushering everyone into the camera’s eye. The music, which seemed random, made every motion seem fittingly choreographed. Side A did a cover of ‘Got to Believe in Magic’ while we were frantically getting all the veteran CAT officers in front of the photo wall. And, of course, when four former GJ editors smiled for the cameras (instead of being behind them), all those synthesizers became as heady as alcohol.
Having missed both Junior and Senior GJ group shots, I realized this was the first time I had ever posed for a group shot with the GJ staff.

Instead of over-playing the expected tunes, we got a fantastic cover of the Corey Hart tune, ‘Never Surrender’. Very appropriate. I don’t know if the OrgComm had a look at the playlist, but the music punched all the right emotional cues. No MC Hammer. No Milli Vanilli. No over-baked Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Just the good stuff. Or, at least, the cheesy stuff that sounded good.

Photo Q-Side A Band Post-Party Concert

Of course, we expected Side A to play ‘Forevermore’, which was more of a college graduation song for most of us rather than a HS one. But all the cover songs they did hit the right notes.

One alum at my table wondered out loud how Dr. Tan would feel hearing all the non-Christian New Wave and Pop blaring over our program. After the batches of the 90s and the 00s, I guess our tunes would sound tame to him. Deep down inside, I’d like to think that, after all this time, he’s gotten into the groove and, along with the rest of us, felt the love.

I will say it again. We were the Last Batch of the 80s. We were the last kids to have a coming-of-age soundtrack where the music was simultaneously (and amazingly) synthesized, overproduced, emotional, romantic and innocent. Our music was mostly about love and laughter instead of sex and murder. And, even if the lyrics of ‘Ice Ice Baby’ were actually about a drive-by shooting, thankfully, most of our tunes were about better, more enlightened things like total eclipses, electric youths, foolish beats and loves in the first degree.

Just as my mother told me that Karen Carpenter would always outshine Madonna, I say that Madonna will always be the Queen of Pop and Lady Gaga isn’t fit to shine the soles of her leather dominatrix boots.

We made do without a lot in our day. No internet. No smartphones. No digital cameras. Tapes had to be rewound and film had to be developed. A notebook was a notebook and a pad was 250 sheets of lined paper. At the Grace Journal, cutting and pasting literally meant cutting and pasting, instead of clicking and dragging.

But it didn’t matter. Because we had the music.

And in the end, that was all we really needed.