Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Dirty Dancing [RCA Victor, 1987]
Five pre-Beatle classics plus six postmodern horrors equals the soundtrack to the world's longest rock video, a brutally depressing top-forty apotheosis. The comparisons are torture--revolting as the contempo material is, it sounds even worse in among the Five Satins and Mickey & Sylvia, who are in turn rendered unlistenable by the commercial manipulations that bring them back to commercial life. Even accessory before the fact Phil Spector sounds not just innocent but simple up against the technocratic ardors of Medley & Warnes's Grammy/Oscar-validated "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" or Eric Carmen's merely radio-validated "Hungry Eyes." The new songs epitomize AOR as CHR, turning everything rock and roll taught us about rhythm and emotion into the melodrama that prerock schlock left behind when it abandoned operetta and the drawing-room ballad. They're almost as good a reason to hate mass culture as Ronald Reagan. D