Todd Rundgren (1948—)
Todd Rundgren is a genius songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. In the 70s, he had a couple gold records, a string of hit singles and critical acclaim as both a songwriter and as a producer for landmark albums such as Bat Out of Hell(Meatloaf.) In comparison, Rundgren's 80s discography is often overlooked and it's a shame because he recorded some real treats back then.
Most of those treats are found on his 1982 record The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect. The album contains one solid hit—"Bang The Drum All Day"—which has become famous for its use in sports arenas. If you ask me, however, the album's best song is an underrated number called "Don't Hurt Yourself."
A breakup song, "Don't Hurt Yourself" addresses emotions not typically found in love songs. In this case, the emotion is fear—fear that your ex is going to do physical harm to his or her body. As Rundgren notes, "it's just not worth it...don't hurt yourself." Lyrically, it's nothing brilliant. At the same time, it doesn't require any extra attention from the listener to understand and digest the meaning of the words—no easy task. In that regard, I give the lyrics extra credit.
Musically, "Don't Hurt Yourself" features a contagiously catchy melody in both the verses and the chorus. Both parts sound like they were written in five minutes. Knowing how gifted Todd Rundgren is, it's probably true. Like every other song in his catalog, the production is outstanding. While it definitely has an 80s feel due to its use of synthesizers, the sound doesn't suffer from datedness as much as other songs from the time period. Frankly, the synthesizer is used quite conservatively. However dated you think the production is, the actual song—and Todd's blue-eyed soulful vocal—are terrific enough to look past any elements that haven't aged well.
"Don't Hurt Yourself" by Todd Rundgren
And for history's sake...
"Bang The Drum All Day" by Todd Rundgren