Our '80s columnist Kevin Wuench returns to spread some holiday cheer:
Love it or hate it, but no song captured the essence of 1986 more than Timbuk3's The Futures So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades. The sly song about nuclear war was not the only Timbuk3 song with a deep meaning as their underrated Christmas song declares All I Want For Christmas (Is World Peace).
Timbuk3 is the husband-wife duo of Pat and Barbara MacDonald. Formed in Wisconsin in 1984, they wasted little time hitting the Top 40 for their first and only time with The Futures So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades. Using the success of that iconic hit, Timbuk3 released the Christmas single All I Want For Christmas (Is World Peace) in 1987 and the video is an accurate depiction of the heady lyrics in the song as each Christmas, young children get gifts of toy weapons while living under the threat of nuclear war.
Besides weapons, Timbuk3 name drops a lot of pop culture like Star Wars, Transformers, Thundercats, GI Joe and Rambo in making their point about how much war and battles are in youth movie/TV shows. Thirty years later, the Timbuk 3 song is also just as relevant as a certain someone in North Korea is testing nuclear missiles when he isn't engaged in a Twitter battle with a certain high-profile U.S. government official.
In 1995, the MacDonalds divorced and both continue to make music as solo artists. Pat McDonald was the solitary writer of The Futures So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades and the publishing money has been good as the song has been featured in many movies including four '80s movies (Something Wild, The Allnighter, My Best Friend's A Vampire and Dream A Little Dream) and even Tommy Boy in the '90s. However, McDonald drew the line at movies and has turned down millions of dollars to license the music to The Futures So Bright for countless advertising campaigns.