This is a post about a laugh that you have heard before if you have any awareness of pop culture. Think of it as a pop music equivalent to the Wilhelm Scream.
Though I like to consider myself someone with a good working knowledge of 80s music, I occasionally will discover an artist that has escaped my notice. The all-too-frequent cause? Britishness. Theirs, not mine. I sometimes forget that that little island over there has culture (or something approaching it), and that the less-brightly-burning stars of the motherland usually stay there, resulting in total confusion for us American media gadflies when run across headlines like this one: “Sinitta ‘texted Cole over Gamu X Factor axe.’” There are at least three things in that sentence that I don’t understand. If you can explain it, don’t. Just don’t.
Most recently, the allegedly famous 80s singer who came to my attention is Samantha Fox, who had a worldwide hit in 1986 with her debut single “Touch Me (I Want Your Body),” which shall be known to me forever as “The Subtle Song.” Fox has continued to record through today, releasing lesser hits and a dreadful cover of Pulveratricious Springfield’s “I Only Want to Be With You.” (I think the cover ties with Kylie Minogue’s remake of “The Loco-Motion” as the best musical evidence aliens could use to support a plan to mercy-kill our planet.) Truth be told, I didn’t even dig any of her songs all that much, but I’m posting one, “I Wanna Have Some Fun,” for this simple reason: It contains a laugh that I’d heard before. Here, see if you’ve recognize it. I’ve set the video up so that it skips straight to about five second before the laugh. (You may want to avert your eyes. Whoever made this video hates epileptics.)
If you’re like me, you heard that echoing laugh and immediately thought of the song “Situation” by Yaz, which features the laugh about twenty seconds in.
And if you had ever been stuck in traffic next to someone who was blasting “Macarena” — within this decade, I should note, just to underscore the awfulness — you would have had an opportunity to hear the laugh again. Evidence: here. (And no, I’m not embedding a video of “Macarena” on my blog, because I have standards, and I will only write about bad music most people don’t already know. And yes, the laugh only can be be heard in certain versions of the song, which I know because I actually watched a five-minute-long video for the wrong one, thus necessitating a second listen-through of a different version. Hell christ.) Take my word for it, the laugh is there, right at the beginning.
So what the hell?
It turns out the laugh belongs to Alison Moyet, the female half of Yaz (and, later, the singer of “Love Resurrection,” which doesn’t suck and the video for which features camels). Wikipedia and a few dozen other sites claim that anywhere between several songs and thousands of songs also feature the laugh, but I can’t find anywhere that lists these. I’m genuinely curious to know. These invisible pop culture trends fascinate me, and now I’m wondering if other songs I know have this lady’s throaty laughter, still echoing, hauntingly, as if she saw something funny in a tile bathroom.
So… anyone? Have you heard this laugh?
80s music, previously: