For some reason people my age tend to love the 80’s. Since my adolescence was a decade later I obviously did not get the opportunity to experience the 80’s first hand but I have done my research. I watched a boatload of new wave music videos (Soft Cell, New Order, Duran Duran, and of course Flock of Seagulls) and I watched the most important movies of the decade (Breakfast Club, Say Anything, Fletch, Pretty In Pink). After hours and hours of study I have come to the conclusion that these people had to be mostly blind.
Apparently, there were only two kinds of people back then: 1) white people who have just come from a Ralph Lauren photo shoot and 2) people who have just jumped into a pile of clothes at a thrift store and wear whatever sticks to them. Oh wait, and some looked like pirates.
Don’t get me wrong, lots of great music came out of the 80’s but most of the bands that were popular are long gone. When is the last time you heard an A-Ha song? The best music from this time period came out of the burgeoning alternative scene. Bands like The Pixies, Sonic Youth, and The Smiths were making the music that would come to be both critically regarded and extremely influential to future generations of musicians.
Even now we are seeing an emergence of artists, many of whom are even younger than me, who are taking cues from these bands. Yuck are a group of youngsters from London who are making the blog radio rounds and it is impossible not to here the Pixies influence in their rusty guitar anthems. I have posted a video of their performance of “Get Away” from their eponymous debut released in February. This from a live performance they did for the BBC’s Radio 1.
Now, new wave music does tend to get a bad rap . The image that the genre represents is just too easy to ridicule. In our minds, everyone from the era had a Flock of Seagulls haircut and dressed like Boy George. That doesn’t necessarily mean the music was all bad. Granted there were some cringe worthy pop songs (Stacey Q – Two of Hearts, anything Tiffany or Debbie Gibson did) but every era has those. The truth is, lots of good music was made and lots of current up and coming artists are playing a similar synth heavy style.
Twin Shadow is one of the names that quickly comes to mind. That is the stage name of George Lewis, Jr. and his music is just bubbling over with 80’s nostalgia. It’s full of layered synths but his vocal style has a kind of r&b feel to it. It sounds like an odd pairing but it seems to work. He released his debut, Forget, last year and I have posted the video for the track “Slow.”
So, what is it that makes 80’s so appealing to this generation? It could be my hipster sensibility that tells me if it looks odd and sounds a little kooky then its probably my job to like it ironically. Maybe it just seems weird and interesting because I didn’t directly experience it. I bet its hard for my parents to understand why I dressed like a lumberjack in the early 90’s. All those Pearl Jam and Nirvana CD’s should have been a clue. I don’t really have a good answer but the 80’s culture has so endeared itself to us that I don’t think its going to go away anytime soon. Somewhere down the road someone smarter than me can figure it out. I’m just going to go back to enjoying the music.
Yuck – Get Away
Twin Shadow – Slow