Picks and Pans Review: Happiness

updated 06/18/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/18/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Beloved

"Little Richard, Little Nell, Willy Wonka, William Tell, Salman Rushdie, Kym Mazelle, Hello, Hello, Hello..."

Poor Gypsy Rose Lee. She's one of the few kitsch celebrities not invoked in the Beloved's single "Hello." Yet one theme from the musical Gypsy permeates every note of this British duo's new song: "You've got to have a gimmick if you want to be a star."

The Beloved has in fact made a quick entry into the fame game with a simple, seductive musical trick. They merely wrote a list of names, set it to a danceable beat and wild!, meet the latest stars of MTV and college radio. Dropping more names than Liz Smith after an Oscar party (or Billy Joel in "We Didn't Start the Fire"), lead singer Jon Marsh mentions such heroes, icons and close personal friends as Fred Flintstone, Fred Astaire, Jean-Paul Sartre, Desmond Tutu and Mork & Mindy. His tactic works, if it's meant to snag the attention of listeners who want to figure out what those listed have in common.

Of course, in the grand tradition of dance music, the lyrics add up to nothing more than rhyming nonsense. The names merely sound good together, and that's enough to make the song so infectious even Jonas Salk couldn't concoct a vaccine against it.

The rest of the Beloved's debut album does not work such powerful magic. Marsh's love songs fade into one another because of his generally disaffected vocals and the predictable synthesizer accompaniment of bandmate Steve Waddington. Like an ad jingle, "Hello" sells a musical product with surface appeal and little substance or staying power. (Atlantic)

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