“Senior Prom, Tape Two”: Review of a 1987 compilation cassette I bought at Goodwill for 25 cents

Writing sample for The A.V. Club editorial application. 2 of 3.

I skipped senior prom, so I’m not an authority on the minutiae of horny classmates grinding on one another to euphemistic pop hits whilst attired in ill-fitting suits and luminescent gowns made of recycled plastic desk chairs in a rented ballroom after spending a generous pie-slice of their parents’ yearly income on country-club dinner and an extravagantly unnecessary limousine.

Still, yesterday, whence I found this compilation tape from the 80s in a neglected cardboard box in a corner of Goodwill, I was intrigued by its title. Its cover boasts a snazzy car driven by a dark-haired lad with a blonde babe beside him (prolly taken die-rectly from Grease — or any inane magazine cover from this tape’s inception to, regrettably, present).

The gentlemanly cashier in his zesty blue uniform informed me that cassette tapes were “four for a dollar.” I bought eight! Then I busted out my mom’s Sony CFD-50 “CD radio cassette-corder” to review a number of tracks off Senior Prom (Tape Two).

TAPE TWO, SIDE A

“Happy, Happy Birthday Baby” by Tune Weavers: Gatsby-like tune meets Christmas carol. A woman croons she lost her “baby” (miscarriage? abortion?) — an odd introduction, given the context, but perhaps, perchance, the John Hughesesque nostalgia mix was on Tape One.

“Moments to Remember” The Four Lads: The outdated-ness of this jam reminds me of a conversation I had with my granddad whence he referred to dating as “courtship,” a custom which is, of course, now extinct.

The Four Lads could conceivably be a) a sweet jacket-donning gang of the ‘T-Birds’ or ‘Pink Ladies’ variety, b) a barbershop quartet or c) a union formed by prominent men in the media who’ve been recently and deservedly fired, reputations tarnished, for sexual harassment/assault.

“You Were Mine” by The Fireflies: Whomever crafted this playlist was unquestionably slighted at their own senior prom, because every damn song is about losing a “lover” (see “courtship,” above). Rebrand this tape, “Brokenhearted at a High School Dance.”

“Patches” by Dickey Lee: Sour Patch Kids, Cabbage Patch Kids … Lyrics depict a girl, Patches, who based on her misfortunate name, I assume was raised south of the Mason-Dixon line. Dickey tra-la-la’s about class warfare/a Romeo and Juliet forbidden-love affair, until — Jesus Christ — Patches is found dead, facedown in a river! PLOT TWIST. Now Dickey’s threatening to off himself to join Patches! Let’s refer him to psychological counseling, shall we?

“To Know Him Is To Love Him” by The Teddy Bears: No boy I went to high school with fit this description.

TAPE TWO, SIDE B

“Where The Boys Are” by Connie Francis: These wistful slow-jam ballads are all blending together like a beets in a food processor. “Valentine,” Connie croons: another antediluvian phrase, dead as Patches.

“When I Fall In Love” by The Lettermen: Are “The Lettermen” jocks who lettered in varsity sports? I did so in tenth grade, but my sport of choice — swimming — didn’t carry the clout of, say, more domineering (concussion-prone) sports like hockey or football.

“Angel Baby” by Rosie & The Originals: This sugary jingle evokes imagery of an apron-donning Donna Reed clone advertising cleaning products in the fifties. Ergo, it’s consistent.

“Till” by The Angels: I’m bored of these “worship you/adore you” ladies singing ’bout men with the verve of pre-transformation Sandy belting “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”

In conclusion, Senior Prom is less eighties pop — i.e., Duran Duran or The Cars, as I was expecting — and more like the soundtrack to Sabrina (starring Audrey Hepburn, not … the Teenage Witch). Not music to mosh-pit to, but reminiscent of a “simple time” (no such thing). Well worth the quarter I paid.

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