World’s Worst Records – David Hasselhoff

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1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear

#107: David Hasselhoff – Night Rocker (1985)

MATT KELLY presents Part One of a survey of the complete musical works of Sir David Michael Hasselhoff. Eek.

Lord of the loveably laughable, David Hasselhoff is a living embodiment of the idea that putting yourself out there can be a bigger factor in success than talent. He’s not a great actor, he’s not a great singer, but he’s always there giving things a try, not afraid to make a fool of himself and join in on the joke when he gets laughed at.

After a successful stint on The Young And The Restless which resulted in a lead role on popular show Knight Rider (not to mention the must-see science fiction film Starcrash: Don’t worry David, I haven’t forgotten about Starcrash) music-lover Hasselhoff now had the star-pull needed to put out a record.

Hasselhoff wasn’t much of a rocker, preferring the sentimental Schlager-style songs of the past that he had grown up loving under the influence of his German roots. Unfortunately (or fortunately for lovers of ’80s camp) label Epic pushed Hasselhoff towards modern AOR with a style, title and image that linked the album to Knight Rocker. Epic were kind of rewarded in that the record went to Number One in Austria, beginning a strange period in which Hasselhoff’s music would become massive in the German-speaking world while remaining a joke elsewhere.

But what’s it actually like to listen to? Though Hasselhoff became known for deliberate self-parody in the 2000s, not much is different in 1985; this is self-parody, just not deliberate. The hilarity begins with the too-’80s-for-you artwork and continues into the music which sounds like the soundtrack to a Will Ferrell movie sending up ’80s rock.

Night Rocker is highly amusing from a songwriting perspective – these songs are drenched in ’80s cliches. It’s a real checklist album as Epic rather brazenly grabs onto everything considered popular/cool at the time and Xerox it into here. From the amusing “WHOOO!” that opens the title track to the pairing of its would-be bad-boy verses with a melodically naive chorus:

“I am the night rocker
I wanna rock you all night long
I am the night rocker
I wanna love you with my song,”
(threatens Hasselhoff)

to the hilariously cheesy saxophone solo, it’s clear from the jump that the album will be a rich vein of ironic amusement.

As for Hasselhoff’s vocals, they’re not that bad, but they’re not that good either. For once in his life he may actually be underacting, using a near-talking voice much of the time rather than selling the exaggerated emotions of the lyrics. He’s awkward rather than awful, yet there are still moments where the record really sucks, such as on a version of The Contours’ classic ‘Do You Love Me’ which is slathered with cheap keyboards, shitty fake drums and the tropiest sax in town. ‘Crazy On A Saturday Night’ also scores high on the unintentional comedy quotient with Hasselhoff’s unspeakably lame “Yeah!” and finger clicks on the faux-cool opening, and I challenge you not to laugh when the female backing singer begins impersonating an ambulance at 3:16.

You know what though? I kind of like some of these songs. The sappy lighter-waving power ballad of ‘No Words For Love’ could have been huge if Peter Cetera sang it while ‘She Cried’ hearkens back to ’60s pop (it’s a bit of a ‘Leader Of The Pack’ steal) and has some good vocal melodies even if Hasselhoff wasn’t the ideal choice for singing them. However, you’ll only enjoy Night Rocker if you have a certain level of tolerance for kitsch; others may want to turn this album the David Hassel off.

 

 

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Matthew Kelly is the most important person in the music industry – the type of obsessive nerd without whom it would have no reason to produce box sets and nine-hour long documentaries.

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