Monday, April 2, 2012

'80s Flashback: Debbie Gibson

Nope, never been a huge fan of realty TV. Aside from a few seasons of American Idol, The Real Housewives of New York The Millionaire Matchmaker and this year's Dancing With The Stars, I'd rather floss with my toenails than sit through all the hype and bravado of most of these overblown ego-driven series.

However, (of all folks) my tax man (who knows my love for pop music) told me about Debbie Gibson appearing on this season's Celebrity Apprentice, and how business-minded and smart as a whip she is. That brought Debbie Debs to the front of my iTunes playlist for the 48754674983th time, with my Taylor-Made 26-track best-of, including such timeless nuggets as "Electric Youth," "Lost In Your Eyes," "Foolish Beat," "Silence Speaks A Thousand Words," "Out of the Blue," "No More Rhyme," "Sure," "Anything Is Possible," "Only Words" and "This So-Called Miracle." Ah... yes... the beautiful 1980s (and '90s).

I have a long, wondrous history with Debs, thanks to my years as a writer and columnist at Billboard, during which I sniffed out all things '80s. Her publicist David Salidor is a pal of mine, so I was granted access to Gibson numerous times... including seeing her Broadway turn in Cabaret, watching her rehearse for a club show (and interviewing her, then attending the show) and seeing her at one-off concert stops over more than a decade.

Gibson continues to be mighty relevant today; she's certainly more than a faded teen pop star. In addition to more than a dozen Broadway shows (Les Miserables, Grease, Gypsy, Chicago), in 2011 she starred with "teen pop rival" Tiffany in the tongue-in-cheek SyFy flick Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (featuring a fab catfight) and had a cameo as Katy Perry’s mom(!) in the music video for "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.).” She's also a longtime friend of the gays, with five of her nine top 40 hits also crossing to the club chart.

To this day, the 41-year-old Debbie holds the record for being the youngest artist to write, produce and perform a No. 1 single, "Foolish Beat," at the age of 17. And that beat, to this day, makes me oh so happy. (Photo collage: Homorazzi) *