Various Artists 

Like, Omigod! The '80$ Pop Culture Box (Totally) (Rhino)

There are few moments in current popular culture as delicious as watching a washed-up Martha Quinn shilling on a late-night infomercial for Time-Life's Sounds of the '80s collection. When asked what it was like to be an MTV VJ back in the day, the former party animal sniffs unconsciously, rubbing a finger along the bottom of her nose. "Y'know," she says, "we really had a lot of fun!" Well, duh.

As does its only-sold-on-TV counterpart, Rhino's new seven-CD orgy, Like, Omigod! concentrates on the kitschiest examples of the Reagan era: the pretentious synth bands, goofy novelty hits, and cheesy power ballads that dominated MTV's early years. Even the coolest hipster will be surprised to find out how much of his brain space is taken up with the lyrics to Grover Washington Jr.'s "Just the Two of Us," Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," or any of the 140 other tunes burned into our skulls. However, Top 40 listeners who bought this stuff on cassette or vinyl the first time around should be pleased with the digital update, and for the opportunity to hear "Take on Me" again, without having to buy the A-Ha greatest hit collection (singular intended).

More by Lawrence Kay


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