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"You're the Top," Cole Porter
"You're the top!
...You're Garbo's salary
...You're the moon
Over Mae West's shoulder"
The meaning: Among the many "top" things listed (see also: the Coliseum, the Louvre Museum, Mahatma Gandhi), Porter mentions actress Greta Garbo's salary. According to Slate, the Grand Hotel star negotiated with MGM for a raise from $600 to $5,000 a week by sailing to Sweden. Actress Mae West just really looked good by moonlight.
"Bette Davis Eyes," Kim Carnes
"Her hair is Harlow gold
Her lips sweet surprise
Her hands are never cold
She's got Bette Davis eyes
...She got Greta Garbo stand off sighs
She's got Bette Davis eyes"
The All About Eve star's eyes were gigantic things of seductive, dreamy, fearsome beauty, weren't they? Jean Harlow was the go-to blonde bombshell before Marilyn Monroe came on the scene, and then we've got another reference to elegant screen legend Garbo. The girl in this 1981 Grammy-winning hit sounds truly dangerous and irresistible.
"Kill the Poor," Dead Kennedys
"Jane Fonda on the screen today
Convinced the liberals it's okay
So let's get dressed and dance away the night"
Jello Biafra takes aim at a lot in this short song from 1980: the Neutron bomb, which was designed to kill people while minimizing property damage; the rich and powerful who would celebrate such an invention; and the liberals who sit around objecting to things — and watching outspoken Vietnam War opponent Jane Fonda — without doing much else to protest.
"Posse in Effect," The Beastie Boys
"I got a girl in the castle and one in the pagoda
You know I got rhymes like Abe Vigoda"
As far as we know, The Godfather and Barney Miller actor Vigoda does not have a secret rap career, so it seems Mike D is being sarcastically self-deprecating while rhyming pagoda and Vigoda in this track from 1986's License to Ill.
On the cover
Of a magazine
Of a beauty queen
Dance on air
They had style
They had grace
Gave good face
We love you"
Madonna's 1990 hit was inspired by the underground gay dance scene where vogue-ing originated. But, on another level, the song was also an homage to these legendary stars and their ability to own their beauty in photos and on film. (And, maybe Joe DiMaggio just snuck in there 'cause his name sounds good.)