By Ray McDonald
There was no shortage of pop-rock topics to blog about this week:
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held its 2013 Induction Ceremony on April 18. The Canadian rock band Rush finally made it in after years of stonewalling by critics, and that would have made a great post.
And then there is Record Store Day, which takes place on April 20. I spent much of my youth in record stores big and small, and sorely miss them…sitting at home scrolling through songs in ITunes will never take the place of flipping albums while breathing in the mixed aromas of vinyl, cardboard, and patchouli incense.
However, they both pale in comparison to another event…an anniversary of earth-shaking cultural impact. It was 30 years ago this week (April 15, 1983, to be exact) that the movie “Flashdance” opened in the United States. Viewers were treated to big hair, driving 80s synthesizers, and Jennifer Beals dancing her way into our hearts (sometimes getting soggy in the process).
Converting overwrought drama into box-office gold, “Flashdance” ended the year as the third highest-grossing film in the United States. Budgeted at seven million dollars, it took in an estimated 200 million dollars worldwide. It marked the first collaboration between producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, who went on to give us such mega-hits as “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Top Gun.” It influenced the nascent video industry – MTV was only two years old at the time – and generated a smash hit soundtrack album. Featuring performances from Irene Cara, Donna Summer, and others, the album sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. It won a Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or A Television Special. Supervising the soundtrack was the late Phil Ramone, a super-producer who died last month at age 79.
Beyond the numbers lay its impact on popular culture. Girls everywhere took to wearing leg warmers over their jeans while sporting off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, while aerobic dance studios began popping up like mushrooms after a heavy rain. Today, “Flashdance” is a fondly-remembered cultural artifact. Jennifer Beals turned down the opportunity to appear in a sequel, which was never made. Its legacy lies in the ever-present tie-ins between movies and videos, and of course, its enduring online presence.
Happy 30th birthday, “Flashdance!”