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June 7, 2010 / Nick

Solid – Ashford & Simpson

The most successful track by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, this song reminds me mostly of the hilarious attempts by G.O.B. Bluth to run his family’s business in the second season of Arrested Development. Things I did not know until recently about Ashford & Simpson and this song are:
1) They duo are husband and wife. They married in 1974, 10 years before Solid.
2) They also wrote a number of huge Motown hits including Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.
3) The video to the song Solid is something to behold. Allow me to guide you through it.

0:01 Simpson, who has not come prepared with a brolly for a rainy day in Central Park (or wherever this may be) takes shelter from the storm in a small tunnel. After sitting down and checking nobody is around, she feels that now is a better time than any to begin an impassioned song performance.

0:19 Ashford suddenly appears. He is either also unprepared for the weather by protecting himself with his coat or doing a bad impression of a matador. Then he bloody well starts singing and all. Then together they build it up, and build it up, etc.

0:59 A cyclist is now approaching. Maybe they’ll stop singing. Maybe he’ll join in with this impromptu performance of fist-clenching.

1:05 No, actually. He’s just passing through. The couple continue to sing.

1:15 A scary looking gang have now appeared.

1:30 Now they’re approaching the couple. Someone’s going to get mugged here.

1:41 Oh. It seems that they’re one of those vocal-harmony gangs that you hear so much about in the news. They’re not so threatening now that they’re clicking their fingers to the beat.

1:55 Now a group of people carrying a giant condom have also appeared. It’s like Clapham Junction in this tunnel today.

2:02 Ashford and Simpson keep looking at each other with their faces really close and shaking their heads. Nobody in history has ever done this with their lover. A man has turned up with a snare drum. Nay, a whole percussion group have turned up with various noisemaking instruments. One man playing bongo drums AND maracas sits down. None of these instruments can be heard over the sound of an 1980s studio drum machine, presumably playing somewhere offscreen.

2:33 I think Ashford might be short sighted as he can only talk to people when his face is 3 inches away from theirs. He tells the snare drum player to ‘knock knock on wood’. The snare drum player obliges by tapping his drumsticks together.  Immediately after Ashford turns around, the snare drum player seems to have changed clothes and, most surprisingly, turned into a much taller man about 20-30 years his junior. This is the power of the drumstick.

Old drummer (left) and new drummer (sans drum)

2:50 Meanwhile, Simpson is now flirting with the vocal-harmony gang. The one on the right shows complete disinterest. He is a staunch follower of the ‘bros before hoes’ mantra. Or gay.

3:12 The gang member on the furthest right makes a lame effort to fist-pump before realising how abjectly beneath him this whole thing is. He graduated with distinction from Harvard Law School. His parents told him he would be somebody someday. Ashford and Simpson now step onto the park bench they were sat on. They have wet, and possibly muddy shoes, so presumably don’t care about whoever is going to sit there after them.

3:27 Ashford has an acute headache. He is probably getting sick of the man playing both the bongo drums and the maracas.

3:49 The camera pans out to reveal that what was just a small audience was actually one of the biggest concerts ever held at this particular tunnel (the world record for tunnel concert attendance was later surpassed for Bon Jovi’s performance of It’s My Life in 2000). This moment would later go down in the history books as the world’s first flashmob.

Review: Probably the cheesiest combination of music, lyrics and visuals that I’ve ever seen.



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