Ring out the old â?¦

Should auld acquaintance be forgot? Not on your life. Nothing screams nostalgia quite like the champagned irrelevance of a year nominally passing. And arguably no town caters to said inebriated indulgences better than our sunny plastic leisure factory does, especially this time of year. We drink to remember. We drink to forget. Rinse, then repeat.

Necessarily, demographics prevail measurably over artistic intentions when it comes to the savvy booking tendencies of Orlando's mega-entertainment institutions. After all, you really do have to please everybody when you're crossing the generalized concourse of International Drive. But, if nothing else, our genders will do the trick. And the Big Parks are taking the binary code of concert ethics to comedic ex-tremes this year, with Disney playing to the (grown-up) girls who just wanna have fun and Universal hanging low on the man show.

Veering none too far from last year's girl-pleasing, midsection bloat of nostalgia stalwarts Duran Duran, Downtown Disney's Pleasure Island offers the forever howl of Cyndi Lauper and the seductive growl of MIA rapper Tone "Wild Thing" Loc (although the Go-Go's were originally set to co-headline, prior to a negotiation slip ... their lips are sealed) for their high-priced ($65), high-kick of sexed-up pop.

Lauper is actually "in-between" record deals in boring real time, with a full-length CD, "Shine," indefinitely shelved following its host label's (Edel America) untimely shutdown. And she's still quite amazing, if not simply unusual. You might have caught her in the haze of the John Lennon tribute concert earlier this year, strumming a dulcimer to the tune of The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields For-ever." Then again, you might not have cared. Still, Disney is banking on the Mix 105.1 set to remember their true colors, shave crisscrosses into the sides of their manic-panicked heads, and throw away the year we all want to forget in salute of the "Time after Time."

Altogether more humorous, not to mention disturbing, is Universal Citywalk's "all-star" grease-monkey triple bill of Eddie Money, Men at Work and WAR ($99). Perhaps this is where the intolerant boyfriends of Lauper's thrift-store fold will find their testosteroned Zen. More likely, though, this is simply where the world will end. (A friend wondered, "Who's gonna play last, when the clock ticks 12? The one who can stay up that late?")

Regardless, "Down Under," "Take Me Home Tonight" and "Low Rider" are each in and of themselves reminders of feelings best forgotten. This is AOR heartburn. Champagne can only be a temporary fix.

So for whom will the midnight bell toll? Colin Hay of Men at Work looks worse than ever, raising once again the issue that you didn't really have to be cute (just Australian) to break through in the '80s. Eddie Money already had a tragic comeback, with Ronnie Spector painfully buoying his newfound Huey Lewis-ism, um, 15 years ago. And the crusaders in WAR have aged with all of the elegance of a Bobby McFerrin novelty hit. Do all your friends know the "Low Rider?" Do they want to?

Oh, shut up and drink. With pop-rock nostalgia, remembering is only part of the battle. Perhaps we should all learn to forget (hiccup).


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