Well, my friend the time has come: Lionel Richie is turning 65-years-old on Friday, even though he doesn’t look like he’s aged since he (and his mustache) popped that pink collar and stared at us from the cover of his 1982 solo album.
The Grammy winning singer, former Commodore and leather pants enthusiast looks like he can still karamu, fiesta, forever. On June 14, Richie made a well-received appearance at the Bonnaroo music festival – and he’s currently on the road with his All the Hits, All Night Long tour. (He’ll be in Detroit on Friday, if you want to bake him cake in the shape of his head, “Hello” video style.)
In honor of his birthday, here are ten reasons why we have “Endless Love” for Lionel Richie.
1. There will never be another faux-calypso gem like “All Night Long (All Night)” (and thank goodness nobody is trying to top it). The album version is a six minute vacation to the kind of Caribbean country whose major exports are dance-a-thons, linen shirts and lengthy xylophone solos. And who doesn’t want to sing, dance and lose themselves in wild romance?
2. All of that jamming in the street inspired YouTube goofs Rhett and Link to play “All Night Long,” um, all night long. They recorded their entire eleven hour marathon and put the video on YouTube. So, if you didn’t have plans this weekend, you do now!
3. At some point, a site will have a quiz that asks “Which Lionel Richie Song Are You?” and we hope we’re “Dancing on the Ceiling,” because we’re both upbeat, excitable and eager to please. Also, we both love keytars. One now-defunct magazine named this song No. 20 on its list of the Worst Songs of All Time, wedging it between “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister and “Two Princes” by Spin Doctors, and we have never disagreed more strongly with any written statement, ever. It’s like they don’t even HEAR those keyboards!
4. Where do you even start with the “Hello” video? It’s basically a five minute documentary on how not to be a public school teacher, but it’s also an all-time 1980s classic. Let’s be honest, most people only take a ceramics class for one of two reasons: either they’ve recently watched Ghost, or it’s because they want to craft their own Lionel Ritchie head. (And by “most people,” we mean “us.”)
5. “Hello” also inspired some festive Lionel-themed kitchenware, a range that includes the “Hello, is it Tea you’re looking for?” mug to the “Hello, is it Brie you’re looking for?” serving platter. If we ever get married, these will be the only two items on our registry.
Also, we love the fact that Lionel took an Internet meme and put it on one of his official concert t-shirts.
7. Lionel appeared in The Simpsons episode “He Loves to Fly and He D’oh’s,” playing a version of himself who serves as the in-flight entertainment on Mr. Burns’s private plane. “Can you sing ‘Say You, Say Me’ but make it about beer?” Homer asks, which is probably the kind of question we’d ask too.
8. Seriously, look at his smoldering mustache. The only real challenger to Lionel’s 1980s Mustache Supremacy was John Oates, and even he eventually shaved it off and admitted defeat. (Yes, the Oatestache is back, but it knows its place in the facial hair hierarchy.)
9. Lionel and Michael Jackson co-wrote “We Are the World” in 1985, the charity track performed by USA For Africa that became the fastest selling pop single in history, eventually selling a jaw-dropping 20 million copies. The video is like a time capsule for mid-1980s rock royalty, with appearances from Tina Turner, Huey Lewis, Bruce Springsteen, and, um, Dan Aykroyd.
10. Let’s talk about Lionel’s smashing fashion sense for a sec. Not only is he defiantly wearing white pants AFTER LABOR DAY on the cover of his solo debut, but he also breaks them out for the Can’t Slow Down cover. He switches it up with an oversized white jacket for Dancing on the Ceiling (a risky move for anyone who isn’t a dentist), before entering his mock turtleneck and black leather phases. And, of course, he pulls it off with aplomb.
Happy Birthday, Lionel Richie. It is you we’re looking for. It has always been you.