Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"Paranoimia" by The Art of Noise with Max Headroom

Song#:  2831
Date:  08/16/1986
Debut:  93
Peak:  34
Weeks:  12
Genre:  Electronic, Dance-Pop, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This British outfit grabbed their first Pop chart entry with their interpretation of the "Peter Gunn" theme (#50 Pop/#2 Dance). It was taken from their second full-length album In Visible Silence. As a sort of addendum to that album, the group released an LP collection titled Re-Works of Art of Noise. It consisted of a few updated versions of previously released songs and some live tracks. One track from In Visible Silence title "Paranoimia," was updated into a newly mixed version that featured the voice of a character named Max Headroom (see below). The unusual new version was issued out as a single and it reach the Pop Top 40 thanks in part to a popular MTV video. It also got to #14 at Dance.

ReduxReview:  Ah, Max Headroom. That was certainly a bizarre pop culture moment. It was so odd that the character took off and not only hosted a TV show, but then had a scripted series as well and even starred in commercials for Coke. The character was able to hang on for a few years, which is longer than most pop culture phenoms, but it was all done before the 90s would arrive. The marrying of Headroom with Art of Noise was absolutely spot-on. The track was pretty cool to begin with, but then adding in Headroom took the tune to another level. And then the ante was upped when the video was made. That's what really made the song take off. I like listening to the song, but the visual representation with Max Headroom made it even better. As annoying as the Headroom character became after a while, Matt Frewer played him to perfection. His rubber-faced antics, voice, and improvisation skills were on full display and it all worked.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Around the time this single came out, Max Headroom was just beginning to gain attention in the US. Max Headroom was a character developed in the UK. He was created to be a computer generated talk show host of artificial intelligence. However, at the time the technology didn't fully exist to create a computer generated animated character, so an actor was hired to play Headroom. American actor Matt Frewer endured hours of prosthetic makeup to become Max. A fiberglass suit was also made for Frewer. Headroom first came to life in the 1985 British TV film Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future. The movie was successful and that led to Headroom hosting a music video program titled The Max Headroom Show. It would run for three season with the last two seasons being aired in the US via the cable channel Cinemax. There were other spinoffs including the satirical scripted US sci-fi series Max Headroom, which lasted for two seasons. By the end of the 80s, the Max Headroom phenomenon had pretty much ended. Frewer would continue to act in many films and TV shows. He starred in his own sitcom, Doctor Doctor, which debuted in 1989 on CBS and ran for three seasons. Recently, Frewer has been seen in the popular shows Orphan Black and Fear of the Walking Dead.


1 comment:

  1. What a truly unique single. Not often that fictional characters have a Top 40 hit song. Kermit the Frog and Bob and Doug McKenzie are a couple other exceptions.