Arrested Development ruined the Segway. Lots of things ruined the Segway -- don't get me wrong -- but the first time Gob Bluth made his dramatic, perfectly self-confident entrance into the frame on his fanny-packed Segway, he instantly summed up all the worries people had about them. Will this make me look ridiculous? Will I look like a conceited jerk for driving one? Would it be cool to put a fanny pack on the front of it?
That was one thing Arrested Development did well and frequently: It could point out exactly what was ridiculous in something -- almost in passing -- and it could target that ridiculous thing so narrowly and frequently that it almost felt affectionate, after a while. "The Final Countdown" by Europe was one of those things, and one of several songs that got that treatment.
Now it's in the long, long, long, long-awaited Arrested Development Season 4 trailer, which you can see after the jump (if you haven't already.)
It's the Final Countdown. (Starring Sky Harbor and crippling Arizona heat!)
"The Final Countdown" had been the most ridiculous of all ridiculous '80s hair-metal songs for a long time already, but Arrested Development -- by tying it to a character who was ridiculous in a lot of the same ways -- gave it a certain ridiculous gravity. Once we all knew specifically why it was so incoherent, we could enjoy it together for that same reason. (It didn't hurt that it was suddenly part of the unstoppable Arrested-Development-reference ecosystem.)
Four more songs that got the Arrested Development treatment:
2. Vince Guaraldi Trio - "Christmas Time Is Here"
What's fascinating about this one is that "Christmas Time Is Here" is not a funny song, where "The Final Countdown" has kind of always been one. A lot of people find it very moving, and a lot of those people have an intimate, childhood-formed connection with it.
But it's hilarious in Arrested Development, because they use it to point up how inane some of the things that drive us to Charlie-Brown-level existential dread can be without decrying all Charlie-Brown-level existential dread as inherently inane. I feel pretty bad for George Michael in some of these! Tobias and Gob maybe not as much.
3. Ashford & Simpson - "Solid"
Okay, this one's pretty much just a "Solid as a rock" / "Solid as Iraq" pun. Let me drop another one in.
3.5. Bryan Adams - "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You"
Both sides of Gob Bluth are best represented by ridiculous '80s songs -- the absurd pomp of "The Final Countdown," and then the absurd vulnerability of "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You."
4. Gob and Franklin Bluth - "It Ain't Easy Being White rr Brown"
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In the wake of the "Accidental Racist" disaster, it's probably worth mentioning this one, which is the self-satisfied social justice anthem taken to its logical conclusion.
As with Brad Paisley, "It's Not Easy Being White or Brown" doesn't come strictly or even mostly from a racist or opportunistic place. Paisley, LL Cool J, Gob, and Franklin all seem to be genuinely touched by the realization that black people and white people have problems.
5. Starland Vocal Band - "Afternoon Delight"
This episode's slow-burn examination of the uncle-niece relationship haunts me every time I have to perform a karaoke duet with someone who is not my girlfriend.