Paramount+ Goes Behind the Music In a Surprisingly Dark Soft Rock Doc

Captain and Tennille try to survive on variety shows (Photo: Paramount+)

Next time you go to a drug store, be aware of the music playing in the aisles. These fun background tunes may not sound intimidating, but they may have a history of making Ozzy Osbourne blush. It’s one of those fascinating revelations. sometimes when we touchParamount+’s new documentary series about the rise, decline and rebirth of soft rock.

To be clear, the show isn’t revolutionizing the music documentary genre. Chart the careers of sentimental ’70s and ’80s artists like Supply, Christopher Cross, and Ray Parker Jr. and follow the norm. behind the music Formula: The veterans talk about their glory days and what they believed would last forever. But as familiar as it may be, there are a few ingredients in this series that give the recipes a kick.

The first is the willingness to go dark. Several musicians and music journalists have argued that soft rock’s eventual demise was rooted in a hyper-masculine rejection of the men who made vulnerable records.Barry Manilow, Michael McDonald, and there is a grim montage of old movies and newspaper articles threatening violence against their ilk. Many stories have been told about how the disco backlash is rooted in racism, homophobia and misogyny, but it’s enlightening given that similar prejudices also cornered The Doobie Brothers.

That said, there were times when problems arose from within the house. In the show’s most candid interview, Toni Tennille, one half of the Captain and Tennille duo, talks about her loveless marriage to Darryl “The Captain” Dragon. While they were garnering millions of fans with bouncy songs like “Love Will Keep Us Together,” she returned home to live a miserable private life and show her affection. Completely devoted to a man who can’t. It’s just as hard to hear after she said her husband wrote their hit “The Way I Want to Touch You” as a plea to be nice to her. Hill recontextualized his hit “Sometimes When We Touch,” and yes, it’s what gave the series its name.

But despite these darker undertones, many of these songs are incredibly satisfying. Another distinguishing feature of the show is its willingness to ask why. Instead of ironically shrugging off the recent craze for the “Yacht Rock” revival tour, director and executive producer Lauren His Raisin delves into what makes this music passable for a new generation. This includes both sophistication on the melodic structure and production techniques of songs such as Elton John’s “Daniel” and Toto’s “Africa”, as well as keen analysis of the need for gentle art. This is where industry interviewers like her LA Reid producer and her Bangles frontwoman Susannah Hoffs prove invaluable.

the best is sometimes when we touch Drop all this knowledge with generous playfulness. The narration is lighthearted, but not ironic. The soundtrack honors the breadth of the late ’70s to his early ’80s by playing classics alongside forgotten hits like Stephen Bishop’s “On and On.” And whether they made this music or grew up listening to it, all talk heads acknowledge their moments of absurdity while celebrating the transcendent. It’s the balance necessary for the series to capture an era that produced both transcendental ballads in record numbers.

sometimes when we touch I’m streaming on Paramount+. Join the discussion about the show on our forums.

Mark Blankenship is review editor for Primetimer. Tweet him with @IAm Blankenship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *