Sunday, May 25, 2008

1984: Somebody's Watching Me



Rockwell: Somebody's Watching Me

[purchase if you dare]

On the surface, this song is a total earworm, a "wonder why it hit" by a one hit wonder, a tongue in cheek analysis of paranoia in a Big Brother society - it is 1984, after all - set to the machinebeat crash of early MTV-style R&B.

It's the backstory that makes it worth posting.

See, Kennedy Gordy's daddy is Berry Gordy, Jr., the CEO of Motown Records; Ken wants to make records for his daddy's company, but he doesn't want daddy to know, so he renames himself Rockwell, signs on to Motown, and makes...Somebody's Watching Me, a record focused around an inane title-cut single that for some reason my eleven year old self thought worthy of owning on vinyl. Hard to believe that this was what hit records sounded like, once upon a time.

The song made #1 on the R&B charts, in part because of its visual companion piece: a cheesy "dorky guy meets ghostbusters" video which seemed to have been filmed on the set of a Halloween episode of some suburban sitcom. But in the end, it's all we have to remember: once Daddy found out, Rockwell charted low with one other novelty record (Obscene Phone Caller), recorded a second album that fell like a lead balloon, washed out of the industry. I'd say that's all she wrote, but there appear to be some fans out there, if the Amazon ratings for the album are any judge.

Bonus points because that's Michael and Jermaine Jackson on backup vocals, though. And bonus BONUS points: Somebody's Watching Me was featured in the pilot episode of Miami Vice. This may be as eighties as it gets.

3 comments:

Paul said...

Boyhowdy,

That's a great story and this song really has the pop sound of 1984

Marcos said...

that's a brasilian cover....by the way can you reup please? the link doesn't work anymore...
thanks!

boyhowdy said...

Sorry, marcos -- like many blogs, in order to maintain this blog as a promotional vehicle for the music we love, we really can only leave files up for a short time, for sampling purposes. We hope you'll buy the song if you like it -- it's still out there!