- “1985”, Bowling for Soup / SR-71
Bowling for Soup may not be the most musically accomplished pop band, but when “1985” came on the radio the other day, I was taken aback by the emotional depth of its story of a middle-aged woman struggling with the reality of her present day life. The character is married with kids but feels a malaise and loneliness from a life she was rushed into through marriage. A life that isn't as glamorous as she once envisioned. Unable to connect with her present state, she retreats to the pop culture of her youth. In the song’s list of 80s pop culture references Springsteen receives repeated mention in the chorus. It’s great to see Springsteen referenced so prominently in a pop song. And its true, how often do we think to ourselves, nothing’s been all right since Springsteen?
I hadn’t heard the song in a few years, and its emotional depth wasn’t the only thing that caught me off guard. First off, I can’t believe the song is a decade old now (it was a chart topper in 2004). Second, Bowling for Soup wasn’t the first band to perform the song. It’s technically a cover by the largely forgotten band SR-71. SR-71 had a big hit with “Right Now” but faded quickly and their third album (featuring “1985”) didn’t receive a U.S. release and ended up only getting distribution in Japan. Thanks to the glory of YouTube, you can hear both versions below. I think it’s clear that Bowling for Soup performs a better version, but it’s not surprising to learn the depth of storytelling should be attributed elsewhere.