Stop The Presses!

April Fool’s Flashback: Village People Go New Wave

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!


In 1980, just in time for piles of their new soundtrack album to be vengefully melted into gooey wax puddles in baseball fields across America, disco dollies the Village People made their silver-screen debut alongside Valerie Perrine and Bruce Jenner in Can't Stop The Music. The title of the box office bomb (which memorably featured a scene in which the Villagers disco-danced in a men's gymnasium locker room to "YMCA," and was directed by Rhoda actress Nancy Walker) ironically turned out to be untrue, since by 1980 disco was well on its way to being stopped.

A year later, MTV hit basic cable and foppish new romantic bands like Duran Duran ruled the land. So the Village People reinvented themselves, or tried to. They ditched their signature cop uniforms and Native American headdresses for Adam Ant clown makeup and pirate pantaloons, and attempted some sort of new wave makeover on their well-intentionedly but unfittingly titled album Renaissance.

It turned out this music too could be stopped. It was a flop, and Renaissance cuts like "Diet" and "Big Mac" never got grandmas dancing at weddings and bar mitzvahs the way "YMCA" did. Here is the vaguely new-waveish single and video from the album:

The Village People then re-donned updated versions of their old costumes and released one more album in the '80s, a 1985 collection of HI-NRG club anthems called Sex Over The Phone. The title track apparently offered a safer coupling option in the scary new AIDS era, and thanks to the Interweb it became a viral hit more than a decade later. Talk about a renaissance!:

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