Flashback: The ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ Gang Mashes Up Neil Sedaka With Robert Palmer
Unlike many teen shows of its era, Beverly Hills 90210 never had an episode where the gang formed a band. But in the critical second-season episode Wildfire that introduced the agent of chaos known as Emily Valentine, there was a talent show in which the power trio of Brenda Walsh, Kelly Taylor, and Donna Martin dressed up like Robert Palmer’s video backup singers to perform Neil Sedaka’s 1962 hit “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.” The whole thing is even weirder than it sounds, but you can see the video right here.
For some context, the episode takes place during the first day of school after a summer break that everyone spent at the Beverly Hills Beach Club. A new girl name Emily Valentine catches everyone’s eye by pulling into the parking lot on a motorcycle with a guitar strapped to her back. Brenda and Dylan are on a break after her pregnancy scare earlier in the season, so Dylan asks her out. He doesn’t realize that Brandon is also interested in this mysterious newcomer. Both eventually take her out on dates, not realizing that she’s completely insane and will wreak havoc in their lives for years to come.
Meanwhile, David Silver informs the listeners of his radio show that some bizarre ceremony known as Hello Day is going to take place later that week. (The existence of this radio station begs many questions: Do high schools really have radio shows? Isn’t everyone in class all day? How do they listen to it? Isn’t David in class too? How does he have time to DJ it?) Donna, Kelly and Brenda decide to perform at Hello Day, but can’t think of a song. Donna’s idea that they sing an “Addicted to Love” parody called “Addicted to Sex” is rightly dismissed as wildly inappropriate. Emily Valentine then steps forward with the joke they do “Addicted to Clothes.” In the end, Emily sings “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” at Hello Day while Donna, Brenda, and Kelly dance and sing in unison, “Addicted to Love”–style. The latter performance looked like it required a lot of rehearsal and does not seem like something the coolest kids in school would spend their time doing, but the world of Beverly Hills 90210 was a weird one.
We’re resurrecting this vintage clip because 90210 came back on the air this week as a Curb Your Enthusiasm–style comedy where the cast plays heightened versions of themselves trying to reboot Beverly Hills 90210. Emily Valentine didn’t appear in the first episode, but there was a quick shot of her in an upcoming episode. If we’re lucky, they’ll sing another song with her. The Neal Sedaka catalog is vast, so they have a lot of choices.