“St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” by John Parr

John Parr likes to tell the sad story about how he was unfairly muscled out of the music business, but he seems oblivious to the reason that happened in the first place…that reason being that he isn’t any good. Styx may have been the general poster child for bad Arena Rock, but at least Styx had their own style. On his embarrassing debut album, John Parr was trying to be Foreigner (and failing badly, I might add). On his songwriting gigs for Meat Loaf, he was of course trying to be Jim Steinman, and let’s just say that as poor man’s Jim Steinman substitutes go, this guy is no Desmond Child.

On this, his only real hit of any stature, he’s clearly trying to be Survivor…specifically, “Eye of the Tiger”. Leaving aside the fact that the movie he wrote this for is a Brat Pack film and not a sports movie, this song doesn’t even approach the lean, focused intensity that has made “Eye of the Tiger” so enduring.

The melody and production are incredibly cheesy, the lyrics are so hyperbolic and self-consciously faux-inspirational that they sound like a parody, and Parr’s wailing vocals are reminiscent of Michael Bolton as his absolute worst, except for the fact that Parr actually has a much less interesting voice. It says something that this is still probably the best thing Parr ever recorded…this is what this idiot sounds like on a good day, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Verdict: I guess you could make a case for this on the grounds of enjoyably bad Eighties retro-camp (although even that excuse doesn’t really work for any of Parr’s other songs), but it’s not ‘good’ by any other standard.

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