From the opening shouts of "Hooh! Haah!" over that killer guitar riff, "Ring Me Up" announces itself as an intriguing song. Then around the ten second mark Chrissy enters, declaring "You are my desire" and it's all over; intrigue quickly morphs into addiction.
I suppose I should apologize in advance, but here's an unavoidable truth: I'll most likely spend at least a small portion of every post in this series extolling the virtues of Chrissy Amphlett and that voice. Mostly that's because writing about instrumentation isn't one of my strengths, while describing what makes a singer/songwriter memorably special is much more in my wheelhouse.
Chrissy's distinctive vocals and unique talents are as potent as ever in "Ring Me Up." She sings softly, yodels tremulously, and barks fiercely, often one after the other. She lets out a brief, high yelp after "Oh oh oh I ya oh oh oh I ya" that's full of more charisma than most singers can manage across an entire song. Her plaintive, put-upon, punky delivery in the bridge is one of my favorite moments in the band's entire catalog:
I am sitting here all alone
Waiting by my telephone
Wish I didn't leave it youRinging you I'm always having to
Lest we forget the band though, the music is pure aural gold. The interlocking sound of a band on fire propels the whole thing along, all power and grace, perfectly complementing Chrissy's singing. It's such a delightfully unusual song, with a sound and a vibe all its own. There's a primal feel to the song, all aching desire and unrequited longing. It's beautiful.
Whenever I watch 1984's Sixteen Candles and hear this song used in one brief scene, I smile. John Hughes had an ear for great music, certainly. I hope generations of moviegoers will hear it in the film, seek it out for themselves, and be floored by its new wave/punk rock/power pop charms. "Ring Me Up" never fails to charm me all over again, every single time I hear it.
And another thing. Why are you letting her sit there, all alone, waiting by the telephone? Ring her up. you fool.