Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Jeux Sans Frontieres (She’s… So Popular)

For a long time, I hated Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers,” but much in the way that the opening scene of The Americans reignited my love for “Tusk,” the season finale made me rethink this song. It helps that I now know that Gabriel was using this real-life game show as a metaphor for war, and that he actually had precise referents in mind with the line, “Suki plays with Leo / Sacha plays with Britt / Adolf builds a bonfire / Enrico plays with it.” I don’t think it’s as clever as the world’s biggest Peter Gabriel fan might, however, and the implications of the line “Whistling tunes while we’re pissing on goons in the jungle” are still too awkward to talk about.

It turns out there’s an additional reason to make peace with “Games Without Frontiers,” I just learned. The song also happens to be the theme song to The Race Against Time, a video game for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC systems. The title was released in support of Sport Aid, the same event for which the Tears for Fears song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” was released two years earlier. The Commodore 64 version of the song sounds exactly how you’d expect it to, but that’s no reason not to listen. Here, come on:

See, you don’t even miss Kate Bush on back-up vocals.

Video games and pop music, previously:

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