Top 40 single reviews

Jellybean, Catherine Buchanan & Madonna

Sidewalk Talk

Album: Wotupski!?!

Year: 1985

               Catherine Buchanan is aware that she’s being gossiped about in the           “Sidewalk Talk.”

               Kinetic synths open the single, setting a zippy tone.  She passes by a stoop full of giggling young woman. They eye her as she goes by. She maintains a vague expression. If she even glances, they will talk and anaylze it. (“Watch where you walk 'cause the sidewalks talk/And you can't keep a secret from the ground beneath you/Step very lightly on the earth below/Or before you know it everyone will know/Streets were paved with a thousand eyes/And try as you may you can't disguise/There's only two things that you can't hide from/That's you and the ground you're walking on.”)

               In the chorus, she warns others to be careful. Reputations are ruined by a single look. (“Watch where you walk 'cause the sidewalks talkYou better watch what you do, what you do/'Cause the sidewalk talk can get carried away/You better watch what you say, what you say.”)

               On another stoop, a man calls out to her. It’s a friend of hers. She waves back and talks to him. She can feel eyes on her, wondering what’s going on and filling in the blanks. Their first conversation started rumors of an affair, nearly destroying both of their relationships. All she did was say hello.  Somehow, it turned out into them flirting and then having an affair. (“Think when you speak 'cause you gotta 'long the street/They can read what you say so you gotta stay away/From words that sting, words are not true/And the things you say make a fool of you/Little white lies make the sidewalk cry/And you can betray with the things you say/Words won't last when you say 'em too fast/And you've been mislead by the things you've said.”)

               The chorus is sung again, with Madonna making her appearance. 

                     In the bridge, Madonna says other people having nothing else going on in their lives. She, however, stays out of it. She is there for her friends and tries to build a community within it. (“When you're living on the street/Life can be full of misery/Find a place to call your own/Make your heart into a home/You can do it, uh huh/You can do it, uh huh/You can do it, uh huh/You can do it, uh huh/You can do it.”)

                       If she ever decides to move, she knows what will happen. They will make fun of her, claiming victory over her. Standing up to them isn’t easy. In her experience, it takes a group of people to do it. However, no action is ever forgotten. (“After every word there's a place that heard/Every time your shoe hits the avenue/And when you're gone they'll sing a song/Of the stories you told when you felt so bold/You better think twice when you cross the ice/Everything you do comes back to you/When you're shedding a tear sidewalks will hear/When your laughter's true they'll run with you.”)

                  The chorus and bridge are sung again.

                   The chorus is sung again.

                      In the final section, Buchanan repeats her warning. (“Let me tell ya 'bout
(Sidewalk talk)/Sidewalk talk, sidewalk talk (Sidewalk talk)/Sidewalk talk, sidewalk talk/Let me tell ya 'bout (Sidewalk talk)/Sidewalk talk, sidewalk talk (Sidewalk talk)/Sidewalk talk, sidewalk talk/Watch out for (Sidewalk talk)/Sidewalk talk, sidewalk talk (Sidewalk talk)/Sidewalk talk, sidewalk talk/Let me tell ya 'bout (sidewalk talk.”)

                  Buchanan, unfortunately, doesn’t have a chance with Madonna as backup. Intimidated, she gets out of the way once Madonna appears. The spotlight goes to Madonna and Buchanan can’t compete. While Buchanan is like a fish out of water, Madonna has lived it and knows what she’s talking about.

                  Jellybean’s  spritzy arrangement hasn’t held up over the years. The synths squirt out the beat everywhere with little regard to where it goes. Due to technology not being there yet, it is limited (which is out of Jellybean’s control). Nonetheless, it’s early EDM and way ahead of it’s time.

                       The lyrics, however, are artful and smart. It has a metropolitan feel that the single lacks. It’s what current EDM tries for but doesn’t quite hit (Zedd being the prime example here, although he has gotten better as of late).

                  The wavering “Sidewalk Talk” could use an update.

Nia Peeples

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