Vital Signs

The Righteousness of Rock?

The Fox Theatre—a grand movie palace of Detroit's 1920's, which is now used primarily as a venue for acts that won't fill an arena—contained a chronologically mixed crowd in mid-March. Paul Young was in concert. Young, a slightly chubby, baby-faced British singer (he appears, to borrow a line from Elvis Costello, "teddy-bear tender and tragically hip"), uses the vocal style known as blue-eyed soul. His presence appeals to the young girls in search of someone to sigh about; his vocal talents bring him to the attention of older listeners who are mystified by the appreciation (and adulation) of bands like Poison, yet who haven't completely succumbed to Lionel Richie, whose delivery has all the kick of chocolate milk.

Young, who had to have teenage girls peeled off of him, wound up his show with a bump-and-grind number about which he remarked, "The government would put a health warning on this." He was referring to the Koop of condoms, not cigarettes. The operative word was "sex." It was repeated innumerable times; it could have been used in one of those count-the-word contests that were once popular on Top 40 radio (e.g., "How many times do the Beatles say 'yeah' in 'She Loves You'?"). Young's dismal finale was aimed straight at the pubescent glands. The young women left the hall in a hormonal haze; the young men left with a few ideas on a single...

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