1986: When Ric Ocasek Soared Solo with "Emotion in Motion"

Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
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Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Frontman of 1980’s new wave phenomena The Cars, Ric Ocasek set himself adrift into a piece of paradise with the release of his second solo album, This Side of Paradise, in late 1986. The album’s first single, “Emotion in Motion,” soared to the top of Billboard’s Album Rock Tracks for a week, also peaking as number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. The lightly soothing rock ballad was Ocasek’s his singlehanded claim to Top 40 fame amongst his solo works.

Ocasek continued to double down on the promotion of the dreamy-synth tune as he traveled to London in November 1986 while releasing the accompanying popular MTV video, starring the good looks of supermodel Paulina Porizkova, who later wed the rock star. 

Including "Something to Grab For" and "Jimmy Jimmy," the 1982 Beatitude (pronounced BEAT-i-tude) was Ocasek’s first solo work. Released after The Cars’ Shake It Up but before Heartbeat City, Beatitude was Ocasek’s spectacular venture into new wave's uncharted territories as The Cars rode the high tide of commercial success.

This Side of Paradise was Ocasek's own commercial success, and while it was his sophomore solo album release, it was tricky for fans to distinguish many of its songs from Ocasek's catalog with The Cars. It may have been that the album featured appearances of keyboardist Greg Hawkes and guitarist Elliot Easton, but it was Ocasek's unique vocal delivery that glued together the unmistakably 80's sound of the album.

The album also had a more experimental, ambient side to it. Emphasized by a drum machine fondly referred to as “Miss Linn,” and a certain crispness when it comes to the keys, tracks like “P.F.J.” exert an eeriness within its dark techno staging with creepy vocoder murmurs and oscillating grunge-robot synth drones that hauntingly returns to mind long after one stops listening. Ocasek aptly nails the lethargic, cool feeling of this synergy with tracks announcing, “Hello darkness, goodbye sun, you’re my only one / Holy clouds, playful light, so reluctant in silent flight.”

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