The Month of Love kicks off for our month of nostalgia-fueled articles!
Inspired By The Meme…
I saw this meme one time on Facebook that, for most, couldn’t be any more true. It had to do with infomercials – specifically, the Time Life Music infomercials. These 30-minute commercials pumped out music compilations in the middle of the night for many a 90s kid, whether you were wide awake or were waking up after falling asleep with the TV on. As a teenager, these infomercials were always on at 1 am, always after I finished watching Saturday Night Live and was trying to find “something else” to watch. In the days before 24-hour programming, network sign offs meant lots of infomercials for products we didn’t need (or never knew we needed), and music compilations that always “took us back.”
Although I was fourteen years old, so where the hell was I being taken? Kindergarten? Preschool?
Anyway, when I was trying to come up with nostalgia-fueled articles as part of a Valentine’s Day theme, I couldn’t think of something more appropriate – or more personal – than music collections full of songs that have been major influence on my music tastes, coupled with infomercials I shamelessly watched during my formative years. These albums were sold through Time Life, and growing up, you’ve definitely seen commercials for them. They’re hard to miss!
But before we get into that, a little history lesson is in order!
Time Life Music
Time Life Music (originally Time-Life Records) has sold compilations since 1967, beginning with albums that catered to a conservative adult audience, in genres that included Jazz, Swing, Classical, and Orchestral. The occasional collection of popular music made its way into Time Life’s catalog, with pre-1955 compilations instead of what was then-currently played on radio stations.
By the 1980s, the selection was expanded to country music, and in 1986, Time Life took their catalog into even more diversified ground with compilations featuring rock music (from 1955, until 1964, but hey, progress!). By the time Rock n’ Roll Era was finished in the early 1990s, Time Life was expanding their catalog into Sounds of the Seventies (and Eighties!), Classic Rock, and yes, the infamous love song collections that have changed titles, but not playlists, over the years.
We’re focusing on those love song collections today, because hey, who doesn’t love a good love song?
Time Life Music Presents…
While Time Life Music’s selections were always advertised in magazines, 30-second commercials, and through direct mail, the rise of infomercials made showcasing the collections an even bigger deal. If you stayed up late, by choice or by force, you probably watched one of these infomercials in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Like I said, I discovered one of these only because I was looking for something to watch after Saturday Night Live in the late 1990s.
In the 30-minute format, usually* meant hosts that got their start on daytime soaps (possibly ones that fell in love while on the soap, and got married), reminiscing about that time ten years ago when their soap opera was still on the air, and these songs were on the non-oldies format radio stations. Luther Vandross sang about the here and now, and All-4-One swore they’d love you with every beat of their heart.
Which was the real reason I wanted that All-4-One album. It had nothing to do with that one song about some chick having “skillz”.
Nothing at all.
*I say “usually” because a wild Kevin Cronin (of REO Speedwagon) sometimes finds his way into these infomercials, as both a subject and a a host.
He couldn’t fight this feeling anymore, so he hosted the Rock Ballads infomercial!
You were Chicago’s inspiration, Gloria Estefan would still do anything for you, and the power of love was strong with Celine Dion. Michael Bolton couldn’t possibly live without you, and that one song from the movie about the lost immigrant mouse was not a love song. In your four-year-old eyes, back in the mid-1980s, this song was about a lost immigrant mouse looking for his family. It had nothing to do with love. Nothing!
Heck, even Toni Tenille wanted “The Captain” to do it to her one more time.
Love kept them together in music history, but not in real life.
Such was the Time Life Music Collection infomercial series. There was Ultimate Love, Ballads that were Monsters, Ballads that ROCKED, and Love that had POWER!
The promises of…
…were everything we wanted!
Join Us On a Musical Journey…
These infomercials were formulaic – male and female hosts (for the love songs collections, it was almost always a married couple) present the collection. We watch clips of the songs being performed, we get a phone number, a price, and we’re taken back. If the couples were married, they were usually soap opera actors who met on the set, got married, and these songs spoke to them. The somewhat current version of Time Life’s love collection (originally Ultimate Love Songs, but now The Power of Love) is hosted by soap opera actors, who of course, met and married on their soap.
Exhibit A: Kassie and Jim DePaiva. They met on One Life to Live, and they’ve been married since 1996.
The only time I think one of these collections (Easy 80s) was not hosted by people who weren’t married was the time Jack Wagner hosted with Guiding Light star Krista Tesreau, and he sang that one lyric “All I Need” to her. If you’ve heard the song, you know which one. It’s the one where the women in 1984 ripped off their panties and threw them.
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Dude, that’s not smart – you’re not married to her! She’s gonna throw her panties at you! Your time on General Hospital clearly makes her hot!
I mean, come on, that song!
The first Time Life infomercial I ever watched was the Ultimate Love Songs, which (to the best of my recollection) began airing in 1997. The same one ran until at least 2001. Hosted by Michael Spound and Heidi Bohay, the twosome met on the Soap Opera Hotel (my mom watched this soap) and married in 1988. They’re still married to this day, and I’m wondering if the albums in the infomercial had anything to do with this.
As I said, the titles have changed, the playlists have not, and there have been additional “love song” compilations added on over the years, but nothing quite rivals The Ultimate Love Collection and all of its various incarnations. Years after the original collection was introduced, and even through title changes, the compilation holds up incredibly well.
And yes, I’ve watched the infomercial change and evolve over the years, including airing on a continuous loop on one of those 24-hour infomercial channels DirecTV has. I’m far from shameless. Heck, I’ve downloaded songs because of these infomercials!
Because You’re Feeling Very Nostalgic Now…
You need to feel “the power of love” in all its glory, 150 songs strong!
This is the most recent version of this infomercials, which has been airing since the 1990s, featuring the same amazing 150 love songs. The hosts are different, the title is different, but wow, is the music timeless!
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These days, the albums are still through Time Life, but through subsidiary StarVista. The amazing love collections are going strong.
And Now, You!
Did you fall in love to the songs on this collection of love songs? What are some of your favorites? Oh, and did you ever buy anything from Time Life, or any of the other music collection companies?
I don’t own this collection, but I do have many of the songs on the albums in my own collection (I love a good love song!). I have purchased music from one of those 800 number commercials in the past, in 2004. I bought two albums from TV Music 4 U, which was one of those other companies that loved pumping out compilation albums.
These albums are nostalgic of a time when we still bought stuff like this, before downloading and streaming music was the mainstream thing to do. I know there are people who still buy stuff like this, and I couldn’t blame anyone who does.
After all, love is powerful!
The month of love is ongoing, and I’ve got more planned as we move through the month! Next week, another nostalgia-fueled article of love for the love lorn and love lucky among us.
Have a great day!