Debbie Gibson – Foolish Beat

First Hit #1: June 25, 1988

I expected something called Foolish Beat to be some mindless dance music, but instead it’s a pop ballad by someone who is clearly very young. Debbie Gibson was about 17 when the song was recorded, but she sounds even younger. It’s the sound of a high school talent show – a raw voice that does have something there, but doesn’t have the training and maturity of a much more developed performer. This youth both enhances and detracts from the theme of a song, since it’s someone saying they’ll never love anyone again when clearly they have no idea what they’re talking about. On one hand, it’s the kind of dramatic hyperbole that a high school girl would pull out after a breakup – it’s a new experience, and they probably would think they could never love again, because the novelty pushes the emotions to extremes. On the other hand, older folks might say “Debbie you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about” and dismiss her entirely. But she didn’t exist for those folks, this is a teen girl making music for other teen girls, and the heightened emotions fit with the audience.

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One Response to Debbie Gibson – Foolish Beat

  1. RBerman says:

    What pundit said of a bear riding a bicycle, “It’s not being done well, but one is surprised to see it done at all”? So too with child stars from Mickey Rooney to Charlotte Church to LeAnn Rimes to Little Bow Wow. A few (e.g. Michael Jackson, Donny Osmond, Britney Spears, Drew Barrymore) climb the ladder to adult fame. Many (e.g. Macaulay Culkin, Todd Bridges, too many other E! movie subjects) flame out into substance abuse and scandal. Most simply were good “for kids”, but weren’t on any kind of growth track that would keep them competitive a few years later. As Felicia Day’s violinist character said wistfully on her web show The Guild, “I was a child prodigy. Now I’m old.” Quiz Kid Donnie Smith has a lot of tomorrows to look back on a brighter yesterday, which is what this song is about, ironically.

    There’s a bit of underdog factor at work here since Gibson not only sang the song but wrote and allegedly produced it as well. Take that, Tiffany! The lyrics are no worse than early Beatles– better, really. It’s decent piece of pop, elevated by hoi polloi as a vote of solidarity for a good kid aiming high before fading away.

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