Tuesday, February 10, 2009

1989: Toy Soldiers

Martika: Toy Soldiers


When I first heard what the theme for the week was going to be I thought "uh oh, everyone else was probably at a more mature age than I was in 1989, and therefore had more mature taste in music", because in 1989 I was ten years old and I only listened to what was on the radio. That being said, I certainly could have picked something that I only discovered after the fact, but my 5th grade self is begging me to stay true to her first. So, one of my favorite songs of 1989 in 1989 was Martika's "Toy Soldiers".

Two of my favorite genres of music are 80s pop music, and female singer-songwriters, this song pulls both of those together, way before I ever had a sense of what it meant to be a singer-songwriter. More than anything, Martika was a power-pop vocalist, having spent her early years on the children's TV program Kids Incorporated, she was the 80s equivalent of the Disney crew these days. But at the same time, she WAS writing her own songs, and she wasn't always singing bubblegum pop. This song is about a friend's drug addiction. Of course, this was the late 80s, and the anti-drug movement was at it's peak. We were slowly seeing the emergence of pro-abstinence and anti-drug music hit the mainstream, like a radio version of an after-school special.

Over the years, I still love this song. I think it's beautiful enough to pass through the corniness of the 80s pop generation fairly unscathed. I've also always admired Martika because she sang one of my favorite songs of all time, the Prince-written "Love...Thy Will Be Done". Since her success in the late 80s and early 90s, Martika has found minor success writing and contributing backing vocals to other people's work, and finally, having "Toy Soldiers" sampled in an Eminem track a few years back.

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