#2. "Losing My Mind" by Liza Minnelli and Pet Shop Boys
Sounds Like: DARPA weaponizing your aunt's record collection.
I hate to be that guy, but musicians today just don't do flamboyance right anymore. Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj generally confuse being interesting with wigs. More importantly, R. Kelly hasn't compared his dick to Jurassic Park since 2007. It's the worst.
Back in 1989, this was simply not the case. No, because this was the year that the U.K. synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys produced Results, a Euro-disco album by cabaret starlet/Judy Garland offspring Liza Minnelli. In other words, this was the closest our civilization has ever gotten to building a human Voltron out of gay icons.
The lead single was "Losing My Mind," a cover of a song from a Stephen Sondheim musical maybe nine of you would recognize. AND IT WAS THE MOST DRAMATIC SONG EVER SUNG.
Holy shit, is that one dreadnought of a torch song. It combines DEFCON 1 diva vamping with a jackhammer beat you can build a bridge to. Also, it's so muscularly unsubtle that your guests will have no choice but to shut up when it's on, lest they be spontaneously mowed down by a runaway Mardi Gras float.
#1. Shooby Taylor's Entire Discography
Sounds Like: An Appalachian snake handler channeling Cthulhu, who has assumed the form of David Lee Roth.
Shooby "The Human Horn" Taylor (1929-2003) was a scat singer who fancied his vocal improvisation a reasonable imitation of jazz brass. In reality, his scatting sounded less like a trumpet and more like an Ewok applying for a homeowner's loan. But don't take our word for it -- here's his cover of a number from the 1940s Broadway musical The New Moon:
Someone transcribed this for your next karaoke night.
If only Shooby were still around to participate in the inevitable revival of Cats. ( "The m-a-a-agical Mr. Mistoffele-e-es, SHRAW SHRAW, POPPY POPPY POPPY POPPY.") The defining trait of Shooby's music isn't listenability, but inimitableness. There are thousands of performers out there in the world, all concocting tunes of varying degrees of aural elegance. Now, I don't know all of these musicians by name, but I can 100 percent guarantee you that not a single one's going out of his or her way to emulate Shooby here.
"WEE SAW RAW, WEE LEE MAW DEE DEE RAW."
Your eardrums may initially resist the Human Horn's siren shraw, but you'll succumb once you realize that here is a man who devoted his entire life to literally shouting nonsense. That's equal parts tragic and amazing and joyous and maniac. Mind you, Shooby wasn't a once-respected scatman whose salad days were left out of the history books. No, he was kicked out of jazz clubs, ignored by his peers, and booed offstage of Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater (where he lasted less than 30 seconds).
Note that the MC refers to him as "Scooby."
Nowadays, Shooby's musical legacy is mostly confined to his website, which hasn't been updated since 2007. There, you can find the remnants of his discography on MP3. Consider Shooby a litmus test -- if his loopy cover of "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz doesn't make you grin, you're a fucking android. And if your significant other can't warm up to Shooby, you're fucking an android. And if your friends resist the clarion call of the Human Horn, you're their token meatbag.
You can find Cyriaque Lamar on Twitter, listening to Skatt Bros.