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3WA 2018 #5: Wang Chung – Mosaic

Nineteen eighty six was a marvelous year. Genesis and Peter Gabriel individually released their biggest pop-culture hit records (Invisible Touch and So, respectively). Depeche Mode’s Black Celebration landed that year. Janet Jackson really arrived as an artist with Control. The Hagar-fronted version of Van Halen released 5150. Metallica gave us the Master of Puppets. Local Portland popsters Nu Shooz released their kind-of-a-hit record, Poolside. This was the year of Queen’s A Kind Of Magic. There’s the only Emerson, Lake & Powell album and the only album released by the erstwhile supergroup, GTR. Paul Simon’s Graceland. Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet. Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors. Beastie Boys’ Licensed To Ill. Duran Duran’s Notorious.

That’s not even nearly anything approaching a complete list. Great Ceasar’s ghost, there’s a lot to like about 1986.

Yet here we are, with this record. Why?

What is it?

Mosaic is Wang Chung’s 1986 album release, weighing in at eight tracks long, four to a side.

How does it sound?

Like everybody having fun tonight, that’s how:

Why this pick?

Choosing Mosaic fits the theme of the project because dammit, this is a largely joyful record. I know everyone hates “that Wang Chung song” but too bad, I still like it and almost the entire rest of the track listing is really solid material.

Choosing Mosaic also fits my personal quirk of rooting for the underdog a bit. Look at that list above. I could’ve picked nearly anything else from 1986’s line-up and people would think, “Ah, yes, a worthy choice.” You know what? So is this. Don’t hate it because you got tired of that one song.

Also, the final track (“The World In Which We Live”) is such an unexpectedly fierce and profane middle finger to Western culture in the 1980s that if the album only consisted of “Let’s Go,” “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” and that closing song the album would have earned its place on any list of quality records of the decade.

Which songs are the highlights?

As pop songs, the hit singles “Let’s Go” and “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” are quite good, as high a quality of ’80s pop as you’re going to find anywhere. “Hypnotize Me” didn’t get as high up the charts but I like it almost as much as the others. I love “The Flat Horizon” and “Eyes of the Girl” the most, however, out of the songs on the album which aren’t “The World In Which We Live.”

Which songs don’t work so well?

“Betrayal” isn’t bad, but it’s a torch song so it loses my interest. “A Fool And His Money” is bad, and it’s a torch song.

So it’s a 25% failure rate at worst. That’s out of only eight songs, mind you. The album’s still worth your hard-earned money.

Which album did you almost pick in favor of this one?

Points on the Curve features Wang Chung’s first big hit, “Dance Hall Days,” and other nice tunes such as “Wait” and “Don’t Let Go.” The album ends with another decent piece, “Talk It Out.”

Any final thoughts?

The band seems to have petered out after this album. They kicked out a new one a few years ago, though. I haven’t worked up the enthusiasm to grab it and learn if they still have any of the old charm. Some day, maybe.

4 Comments

  1. I never did buy this album, even though I really liked Points on a Curve. I should probably add it to my wish list, shouldn’t I?

  2. Ahhhhhhhhhhh… yes yes. In the Great Expansive Tome Of ’80s Music, Wang Chung is desperately underappreciated. Points on the Curve is one of the few albums I’ve purchased in three different formats, and Mosaic, while not the one I would have chosen (I’m simple that way), is still awfully good.

    Yet neither album has their best song on it. That’d be on the album they released BETWEEN Points and Mosaic, the soundtrack to To Live and Die In LA. The title track is unlike everything else they did, and intentionally so. And it works so well….

    In any case this is a lovely choice! I’ll give Mosaic four stars, but the three mentioned Wang Chung albums combined get five.

    • I do love “To Live and Die in LA,” the song. The soundtrack is interesting as well, and probably their best work in terms of pure musical effort and reward.

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