80s Music is Back
80s music from the BIG decade
The eighties were big – and 80s music is back. It was the decade of big hair, big money, big music. Fleetwood Mac sang about ‘Big Love‘ in 1984, the same year that Wham released their ambitiously titled album ‘Make it Big‘. Industries such as coal mining were in serious decline, while capitalism rose to dizzy new heights with Margaret Thatcher steering the ship.
I recently took my daughter roller skating. It was just like an 80s roller disco from my youth. When the DJ played Blinding Lights by The Weeknd, it was just like re-living 1985. Apart from the fact that I’d have had my daughter when I was only 5. I do love that song. The track is included, alongside other recent singles, on NOW That’s What I Call Music 105. The first NOW compilation album was released in 1983. That’s how far we’ve come. (Yet I’m still very confident of doing well in an 80s music quiz.)
A material world
By 1987, Madonna was a self-confessed ‘Material girl‘.”‘Cos we are living in a material world” she justified. In that year, the first single became available to buy in CD format, and Whitney Houston scored the first of the number one songs sold in the new format. Her big voice belting out ‘I wanna dance with somebody‘. Shiny new CDS were in, well-worn vinyl was on its way out.
The sun always shone on TV for A-ha in 1986 when they made number one. (Really? What were they watching – Neighbours?) In the same year Wham had indeed made it big and they heralded their impending split with the release of ‘The Final‘, their last album as a duo. Duran Duran were huge – with hair to match – and John Taylor gave Morten Harket and George Michael a run for their money in the heartthrob, as well as the lavish hairdo, stakes. A-ha, incidentally, found success in the United States on the back of their Take on Me video. Making it big in New York and the rest of the country was impossible goal for many 80s musicians.
80s music videos became an art form, Michael Jackson released the feature-like ‘Thriller‘ – a most memorable case in point. Glossy, expensive film clips to promote new releases became the norm. Another of our 80s music artists, Peter Gabriel, recorded the 1986 ditty ‘Sledgehammer‘ and it was accompanied by a slick piece of film-making. Which is generally regarded as one of the decade’s best. Excuse me a moment, please, while I search for some 80s music stars on YouTube…
Money for Nothing
Dire Straits were in anything but and mockingly sang that they got ‘Money for nothing’. Other than making massively popular music. Tina Turner, Culture Club and rock band Guns ’n’ Roses tossed their big hair around on stage while David Bowie said “Let’s Dance”. Moviegoers got on down to ‘Flashdance‘ in 1983, setting the scene for some ‘Dirty Dancing‘ in 1987.
Frankie goes to Hollywood welcomed us to the Pleasuredome in 1984, imploring us to ‘Relax‘. The song from this biggest of 80s bands triggered a flurry of cheaply printed t-shirts. Emblazoned with the legend “Frankie says Relax“, they were flogged at inflated prices on market stalls across the land. Along with leg warmers, earmuffs, blouson tops and jackets, shell suits and super-tight stone- or marble-washed jeans.
The glossy 1980s was the decade of excess, in short, and by the 1990s everyone was ready for something a little more primal; some growly, grungy, indie tunes or to let it all out at a club. Raving the night away to some house music. The latter had quietly been on the rise since the early 80s, becoming mainstream by the end of the decade and into the 90s. At the turn of the decade, 80s and 90s music fused into one before morphing into something different. A New Order.
The new decade
The eighties were gone, but the circle of popular culture meant that they would soon rise again, like a burnt-out phoenix emerging from the ashes once more. Even before the dawn of the new millennium, eighties nights had started to flourish again, with clubs such as London’s ‘Carwash‘ bursting onto the scene in a riot of 80s colour and vibrancy.
No one would yet forget those stars of any 80s music list. As well as those 80s music icons I’ve mentioned, the likes of Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Billy Idol, Rick James and Prince. How could forget Purple Rain? 80s music legends, the lot of them.
In 2000, Friends Reunited was established and fed folks’ yearning for some big, brash 80s sounds and strident patterns. 80s nights sprang up like mushrooms across the country and students went wild to the anthems of two decades before. The best 80s songs keeping everyone on the dance floor.
Today’s students go crazy for original 1980s aztec or checked shirts and snug, dappled Levi’s and the like, it seems. In town recently, we spotted a sign for a vintage clothing fair and decided to take a peek. Inside the dimly-lit student union bar were throngs of people, in their late teens and early twenties. Rifling through racks of the type of gaudy clothing that my generation would have consigned to the tip. Many moons ago.
The new vintage
‘University Vintage fairs’ must be immensely popular, as up to three are held simultaneously, on any given day, at campuses across the land. Today’s students are gladly snapping up 80s garments, to wear while getting on down to some Duran Duran, Nik Kershaw or Wham in the UK’s clubs. Resplendent in garish patterns and marble-wash, they spin their favourite tunes while they work, play, or perfect their luxuriant hair; even supermarkets stock various LPs on vinyl these days.
Sadly, we lost David Bowie, George Michael and Prince last year. Whitney Houston passed away 4 and Michael Jackson 7 years before that; but Duran Duran are making music once more. A-ha are anticipating their summer tour in 2018 and “Icons of the 80s” travel the land with Go West, Nik Kershaw and Cutting Crew. Butlin’s hold 80s weekends in conjunction with Absolute 80s, an 80s music radio station dedicated to the sounds that went with shoulder pads and gleaming white trainers.
Of course nostalgic 1980s music nights like these will always be popular with Generation X. Those who grew up with that style and music. But the interesting thing is that the up and coming Millenials and Generation Z are getting into the 80s groove in a big way. An 80s music playlist is now a desirable commodity. 80s music events are on the increase. Old music is New Wave once more.
Perhaps it’s because good rock and pop music will never die. Thankfully, the mass-produced Stock, Aitken and Waterman 80s hits of the decade remain relatively off-the-radar. If only the clothing would, too. If I ever don a pair of fluorescent pink leg warmers again, please feel free to force me to listen to nothing but today’s music on endless repeat. Therein, perhaps lies the answer. Are the youth of today so lacking in new, proper, pop tunes that they have to turn to the music made a long time before their parents even met?
Looking for 80s music albums? Then don’t miss this post detailing my top ten compilation recommendations, covering all the top 100 tunes and 80s music greatest hits.
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