Back in the mid-80’s, lip syncing was quickly becoming an art-form. Everybody and their dog took the idea of using a hair brush and pretending to sing in front of a mirror and ran away with it. I remember watching “Puttin’ On The Hits” and thinking it was the coolest show ever.
Because of this show, a new high school phenomenon was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia in 1985: the lip-sync contest!
I was still young, only having been in Grade 8 for a couple of months. As soon as I heard about the contest, I knew immediately that I wanted to join. I didn’t have the confidence to go in alone, though. And really, what was the point of doing a contest like this if you couldn’t do it with your friends?
I don’t remember who joined me in this “super group” (I know…that’s how bad my memory is, I suppose), but I do remember some of the stranger details.
The name of the song was (You’re A) Strange Animal by Lawrence Gowan (he’s currently the lead singer for Styx and has been for almost 15 years now). It was a favourite of mine because (a) I loved the song and (b) I thought that the video was bloody fantastic for 1985:
We wanted to do the song justice because we felt it was a kick-ass pop song. For some reason, we thought that the best way to do that was to paint our faces like some new-age KISS band. I had a Gene Simmons-esque design and the other two guys did their own thing. I wish I had a photo of that night. Trust me…we looked ridiculous.
But the make-up wasn’t all, though. If you watch the video, you’ll notice that the guitar player was using some kind of “stick guitar”. It was different and awesome and oh-so-80’s…and I thought that I would attempt to recreate that with a piece of 2×4. I didn’t put strings or anything on it; rather I simply drew what I thought looked like a guitar with different coloured markers. It ended up looking like a ridiculous space-aged keyboard than a guitar.
In fact, I remember somebody asking me if it was a keyboard and I ended up getting upset about it. I thought that nobody would “get it” and I’d look like an idiot out there (somehow forgetting that I was wearing KISS make-up and tight jeans for the performance). I pulled myself together and off I went out on stage.
I’d like to say I nailed it, but it was all rather silly. People were more confused than entertained. We got some polite applause when it was over and the curtain closed. I wondered if I would ever be able to top that “magnificent” performance.
I would…all in due time.