Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Certain Songs #1837: Ray Parker, Jr. – “Ghostbusters” | Medialoper

Single, 1984

. . .

I’m not a massive film nerd, but some perfunctory internet research leads me to believe that from 1984-1988, at least one of the two highest-grossing films in the U.S. was a comedy, which I think might be the only time in history there’s been a run like that. I mean, it got so weird that the biggest film of 1987 was Three Men and a Baby. You could look it up.

That’s just how bad life was in the Reagan 80s.

In any event, the 1980s was also when the concept of the all-encompassing film really took hold. A film that would not just dominate the box office, but also spawn hit singles, ubiquitious videos and add catchphrases to the pop culture lexicon. And I would argue that 1984 would be the peak of this phenomenon, giving us Purple Rain, Beverly Hills Cop and, of course, Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters basically owned the summer of 1984. The film was a massive phenomenon, cementing the career of Bill Murray, and you literally could not turn on MTV at any time of the day or night without seeing the clip-filled, celebrity-laden video for “Ghostbusters.” How big of a phenomenon was “Ghostbusters?” It knocked fucking “When Doves Cry” — one of the most original pieces of music ever — off the top of the charts in August 1984, and stayed there for three weeks.

And let’s be honest here: “Ghostbusters” is barely a song. It’s basically just a riff — a Huey Lewis riff, no less — combined with a genius call-and-response and leavened with Parker’s infectious cool. And yet, and yet, it contributed two essential eternal catchphrases to the lexicon, both of which are better than anything given to us from the film.

The first one being the call and response that dominates the verses, eternally contrasting Parker’s cool Q: “Who ya gonna call?” contrasted with the exuberant A: “GHOSTBUSTERS!!!!”

The second one, of course, is Parker’s jokey, playful “I ain’t afraid of no ghost,” a double negative for the ages. Later on, while it was a thing that never became a popular catchphrase, Parker also gets off a double entendre for the ages when he proclaims “bustin’ makes me feel good.” HAH!!!!

In any event, on every single level, “Ghostbusters” is great silly fun — and has perhaps aged better that the film (and definitely aged better than the video, with its even then WTF cameos) — hateable maybe only for its utter ubiquity across the years, but now that we’ve put 35 years between now and its original heyday, I can appreciate it all that more.


“Ghostbusters” Official Video

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