Martika – Toy Soldiers

First Hit #1: July 22, 1989

Children’s choirs can be a cheap trick, the innocence of youth being used as a tool to heighten the emotions inherent in a song. So a well deployed children’s choir is not only a rare thing, but actually kind of refreshing. In Toy Soldiers, the innocence of children is used to contrast with the world-weariness of Martika, leading to a song that is actually quite playful in the way it handles moody angst. If it was just a moody ballad it might not have stood out, but with the kids incorporated it manages to cut through the mopey parts of the track and keep it from getting swallowed up in the darkness. It’s a nifty bit of contrast, and elevates the song from a middle-of-the-road ballad into something a bit more special, though the chorus is really the highlight of the song.

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One Response to Martika – Toy Soldiers

  1. RBerman says:

    “Only emptiness remains/ It replaces all the pain.” An incredibly dark song about the perceived inevitability of infidelity. “One by one, we all fall down.” A child actress, Martika was only 19 when credited as co-author of this song, but surely its world-weary resignation came from the other co-author, Michael Jay. The music falls easily in with ballads of the era by Roxette, Expose, and Wilson Phillips, with the children’s choir as the only unusual texture, a feature I don’t recall being well used in Top 40 since Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” several years earlier.

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