Like a pop-cultural eclipse, two of the easiest, most tragic targets of the '80s (and beyond!) aligned when La Toya Jackson signed on as national spokeswoman for Nancy Reagan's retarded Just Say No program. It was a win-win hook-up: La Toya got a built-in audience ("No, Timmy, you may not leave the assembly!"), while JSN was able to continue promoting fear via Toy's caterwaul and perpetuating propaganda because Toy clearly will sing whatever is put in front of her as long as someone, anyone will pay attention.
The ugly, ugly apex of this collabo is 1988's "Just Say No," a dumber-than-really-dumb-rocks paste snack of a song. Toy had her eye on the Billboard Hot 100 when she picked out her musical collaborators, post-Italo, London-based Stock Aitken & Waterman, responsible for wonderfully binding synth cheese from the likes of Kylie, Rick Astley and Bananarama. Unfortunately, this is not their Asiago. It's not even moldy Velveeta. Everything is wrong with "Just Say No": the senior-citizen-friendly tempo, the chorus' jarring percussive punctuation, the otherwise nonexistant beat, the keyboard solo that lazily tries to pass itself off as a guitar, La Toya's delivery (approximately, that of a deaf cat lampooning Eartha Kitt). Maybe worst of all are the lyrics. Somehow, I don't think being deemed "really cool" by La Toya Jackson is enough to make anyone throw away their pipe. "Brothas and sistas / What are you cryin' for? / People are dyin' / What are they dyin' for?" whines Toy at the song's start. What are we cryin' for? I don't know, could it have anything to do with the dyin' people you mention immediately after your question?
Like she cared, anyway. In a bit of cross-promotion, Toy talked about her involvement with JSN on Phil Donahue in 1989. Her real purpose for appearing on the show? To promote her Playboy appearance (her photomate boa constrictor made an appearance, as well, because, y'know, it was good for his career, too). Look at how sincere La Toya is. The snake handling makes her words resound.
"It's basically designated to children from 3 to 9 years old," said La Toya of the program. "And it's basically to prevent them from taking drugs before they start. And what I do is I go in the most drug-infested areas and I talk to the children in those schools and try to teach them and show them that it's wrong because growing up into those environments they grew up in, they don't see anything wrong with it. They think it's OK. And so, you gotta tell them it's wrong."
La Toya's unparalleled commitment to infesting already infested areas and her unending stream of pop-music pain (this isn't the last we've heard from her here -- promise) have earned her the title of Queen Crap Monday. That's a true testament to the benefits of staying off the pot.
(La Toya making everyone happy by performing "Just Say No" in D.C.)