For high school graduating classes of ’87, here are the top three slow dance songs from every prom, dance, and mixer we went to during our formative years:
First Place: “Careless Whisper” by Wham / “True” by Spandau Ballet (tie score)
Third Place: There was no third place.
The quality edge obviously goes to “True,” if only because that song never said “Guilty feet have got no rhythm.” I have a pet theory that all of George Michael’s many personal problems can be traced back to penning that line in 1984.
So tonight we have “True.”
30 years later and whenever I hear the opening keyboard and those simple guitar chords, I still picture peeling myself off of a gym wall to go ask [NAME REDACTED] to dance. I had not waited nearly two hours for this one song to play before making my move. Honest. It had been more like 90 minutes, tops. Felt like a week though.
Was it worth the wait? It was worth it in that long ago moment, because “True” is just a flawless little high school slow dance number. Saccharine lyric? You bet! Overwrought delivery? Yes! Smooth sax solo? Of course! Formulaic? Yes, but no matter — the song is magical in the way something can be when you’re still young enough not to know what the formula is, or even that a formula exists. That time doesn’t last long, but if you’re lucky then a song can still hit you with the exhilaration of right before you peeled yourself off of that gym wall.
I’m pretty sure every single prom cover band in the world has played this song so many times that there isn’t a one of them that can’t sleepwalk their way through a perfectly adequate performance of it.
And check out lead singer Tony Hadley at about 0:56. Tailored suit, dark. White dress shirt, crisp. Silver tie, perfectly knotted. Pocket square, dapper. Oh, and he can hit all the notes without the aid of a computer. Lord, but I do miss the ’80s.
And every once in a great while, I might miss [NAME REDACTED] a little bit, too.