Introduction to Jheri Curl June 2: Electric Boogaloo

That’s right, folks, it’s finally here: Jheri Curl June has returned, and this year it’s going to be even better than before. For those of you new to the party, I wrote an introduction last year that I highly recommend, as it provides a definition and brief history of the genre we like to call Jheri Curl Music. In brief, though, JCM is R&B music, primarily from the early-to-mid-1980s, that “embodies the properties of the jheri curl itself.” It’s “an intrinsically hybrid style: somewhere between Black and white, kinky and straight, silky and dry. It’s fussy and high-maintenance. And, like the Jheri curl parody ‘Soul Glo‘ in John Landis’ 1988 comedy Coming to America, it leaves a greasy residue on everything it touches.”

This year’s Jheri Curl June will follow the same basic format as last year’s: every weekday, we’ll update with a brief post highlighting a classic JCM cut, which we’ll also add to a growing Spotify playlist to be found at the bottom of each post. We’ll always try to provide something visual along with the music–jheri curl is, after all, a profoundly visual genre–but this time around we’re going to be a little less dependent on video clips, as there’s a lot of great jheri curl music that isn’t on YouTube (there’s a lot that isn’t on Spotify, too, but that’s a separate issue). Every week, probably on Fridays, we’ll also have a special feature post that goes into greater depth on a particular artist, album, or film. That’s right, I said film…look forward to a more in-depth discussion of Jheri Curl Cinema next week.

Right now, though, I want to get right to the festivities. So join me after the jump, and find out who’s kicking off the second annual Jheri Curl June.

Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Gap Band was probably the biggest omission from last year’s JCJ lineup, so the first thing I wanted to do this year was correct that oversight. And there aren’t many songs better-suited to launching a month-long jheri curl celebration than the Gap Band’s 1982 hit “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.” The video alone is a classic: just four minutes of hilariously insistent line dancing from Charlie, Ronnie, and Robert Wilson in front of a stark black background, interspersed with rotoscoped footage of–you guessed it–planes dropping bombs. Oh, and then a couple of foxy ladies with weaves show up, and the camera tricks begin in earnest. It’s a charmingly low-budget affair; probably the biggest expenses were the rhinestone vests the Wilson brothers inexplicably wear over their military fatigues. And of course, the song is a banger–especially in its 13-minute extended mix, which opens with air-raid sirens to signal the awesome bomb the Gap Band are about to drop on your ass.

So there we have it: day one of Jheri Curl June’s second voyage. We’ll be back tomorrow with more music; in the meantime, enjoy the Gap Band!

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