One of my favorite singers, Lionel Richie, was born June 20, in 1949. Today he turns 65 years old. OUTRAGEOUS!
Thanks to the interwebs, Richie has had a constant presence in pop culture,
and I can’t forget how both the song and concept from the video for “Hello” was used in a recent Starburst commercial (really, I will never be able to forget this. It’s seared into my forever-scarred memory)
A few years back, on one of the VH1 “I love the ‘80s” shows, Richie was asked about the “Hello” video, and more pointedly, about the sculpture that the blind girl made. While I’m sure he’s truly made peace with it, he does reveal a slight air of offense at the fact that the bust looks nothing like him, telling the interviewer “Did I think the bust looked like me? Absolutely not!” (But hey, wasn’t that kinda the point? This chick was supposed to be BLIND. So that bust is impressive regardless of the likeness. The point wasn’t to have her turn out to be some sort of artistic wizard.)
Mind you, the Starburst commercial wasn’t the first time Richie’s music was used to promote a product. In the ’80s several award-winning singers shilled for soda companies (Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Madonna…). And Lionel Richie chose…to promote the Choice of a New Generation, with lyrics crudely altered from “Runing with the Night” to better suit singing about soda: “Pepsi feels so right… “
In 2012 Richie released the album Tuskegee which features his hit songs re-recorded in a Country format, sung duet-style with such Country artists as Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Jennifer Nettles, Racall Flatts, and others. Not every reinterpretation is my cup of tea, but you can catch some of the CMT special about the album here if you’re so inclined.
Fun fact: Although it took him a few decades to get immersed in the Country mindset, Richie wrote the 1980 hit song “Lady” for his good friend Kenny Rogers. (Not to be confused with the Commodore’s song of the same name).
Karamu, fiesta, forever! Party all night long, Lionel. All night.
-DJ Darko, Your Pop Culture Mixologist
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