Pure Romance with No Sex
The Mark Siano Super Soft Rock Spectacular
Soft rock is the Ken doll of music: smooth, predictable, and entirely without genitals. It's pure romance with no sex—all soft-focus euphemisms, wings, sunsets, and hearts. When we close our eyes at night, and Michael McDonald soft-rockily croons us to sleep, we see slow dancing and lace and, sometimes, triumphant fists punching the sky. We do not, thankfully, see Michael McDonald's penis.
The Mark Siano Super Soft Rock Spectacular—postironic, hypersincere, gleefully disorganized—is a rambling cabaret of karaoke, so-so comedy, and dance numbers. Siano makes a charismatic frontman: handsome and unafraid of short-shorts, with musical taste to rival your mom's, and a perfect whiff of '80s sleaze. His commitment to the running man is exhilarating. His heart pumps Rick Astley instead of blood.
Some of Super Soft Rock Spectacular's comedy is limp—for instance, I do not believe that "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" counts as funny anymore. But Siano has a knack for segues ("I can see most of you have at least two ears and a heart, so you're gonna love some Phil Collins") and blistering love-song clichés ("Me and you, and you and me, and that makes three, 'cause I'm twice as important to you as you are to me"). A video from the Seattle Neutrino Society is simply brilliant, as is the grand finale, which had all us children of the '80s leaping to our feet and shrieking.
If someone tells you they don't care for soft rock—the Patrick Swayze solo project, Lionel Richie's horrifying clay head, "On the Wings of Luuuuuurve"—they are fucking lying to your face. Deep down, we all love it. It's pure sincerity. "I have no addictions whatsoever," brags Siano, breathless in polyester pastels, "Unless you count soft rock. And Quaaludes. And Swayze."