This has got to be one of the most unusual hit singles of the 80s, and it also has a rather interesting story. Will Powers was an American singer. But who were they exactly? Well, there was no such person. This was a character who was created by Lynn Goldsmith, better known as a photographer of rock stars. Will Powers (that’s a great pun) was supposed to be a parody of self-help tapes of the “how to get rich instantly!” variety that were popular at the time.
Goldsmith became Powers by having the pitch of her voice altered to make her sound male. In October 1983 “Kissing With Confidence” was released, this reached no. 17, and also featured on the first “Now” album. We were given lots of advice that probably wasn’t supposed to be taken too seriously, such as “practice this chant in the morning as you rise, in the evening as you retire, and just before a date“. This was accompanied by an uncredited vocal from Carly Simon.
I always presumed that this was supposed to be a one-off, but it turns out that there’s much more. There was a whole album of this made called “Dancing For Mental Health”, which featured lots more songs that offered advice on various things accompanied by plinky-plonky music, and also seemed to insist that there was a Will Powers Institute. If we followed the simple instructions, not only would be able to find the path to our own happiness, we would also be able to breathe easier, and probably have smoother trousers too.
I was surprised by how many famous musicians contributed to the album along with Goldsmith, including Nile Rodgers, and Tom Bailey from Thompson Twins. Although there were no further hits, there were some more singles released and videos, including “Smile”, and “Adventures In Success”, which featured some very early computer graphics that would’ve looked fancy in 1983, but now come across as mildly scary.
There was also a variation on the “Adventures In Success” video where various celebrities including Eric Clapton, Holly Johnson, Steve Winwood, and even Arsenal footballer Tony Woodcock were among those praising the institute for the advice that they had offered, claiming to be among the many millions of people around the world now satisfied with who they are. Goldsmith was also interviewed in Record Mirror around this time to explain the idea a little more.
And the video for “Opportunity” featured a woman who had blue hair! Another one! Just when I thought I’d seen them all. I thought that there wouldn’t be any at all, but now there is a surprisingly long list. I’m fairly sure that there were no further albums or singles after this though, and the joke had probably run its course by this point (“Kissing With Confidence” also soundtracked a few adverts), but this was all rather bizarre even by the standards of 80s pop music.