80's music; full of stuff, things, and really awesome wild fun.
Just The Facts
- The best artists of the 80's all came from the 70's.
- Seriously, think about it, Michael Jackson, Queen, David Bowie; all got their start the decade before.
- The 80's was when everything went commercial and "got big".
The bit at the Beginning
80's music, less a designation of a period in musical history as much a phrase in of itself. As in, "man, this is some eighties sounding shit" or "hey porn sound editing guy, play that funk eighties bass line while I fuck the shit out of Timmy's mustache" Unlike the sixties, seventies, or nineties, not much musically has come out of the 80's save some bad hairstyles and creepy sexual idols. 1980's American pop icon Rick Astley is now better remembered for an internet meme than any of the millions of records he sold during the decade, Gary Glitter, author of one of the most recognizable riffs in rock history, came a hairs breadth away having his neck wrung in Vietnam, and a woman who held the lustful eyes of near every man on the planet at one time or another has since aged into a hideous reptilian predator with a god complex and a bad English accent.
The Nineteen Eighties in Three Parts
Will Sing for Food
Pretty much anything you need to know about music and culture in the 1980's can be learned from Live Aid. Long before the large breasted aryan actresses of Hollywood figured that adopting a poor black baby counts as a Jesus level act of charity, a middle aged Englishman with a birds nest for hair decided to save Africa.
His name was Bod Geldof, and in the Christmas of 1984 he collaborated with a variety of British and Irish acts on a charity single called "Do they know it's Christmas?" In the months following Geldof and his partner in crime (Midge Ure) conceived of a large scale concert, held on both sides of the Atlantic, to raise money for the starving cats in Ethiopia. On July the thirteenth of 1985 the twin stadium venues of Wembley (UK) and JFK (USA) attempted this hugely ambitious undertaking, with sixteen hour concert spread across the continents.
The likes of David Bowie, Queen, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney performed to enormous crowds in the name of charity, and with ticket prices around forty bucks a pop the organizers of the event hoped to raise well over a million dollars for the cause. When all was said and done approximately 200 million had been raised by Live Aid.
It wasn't all sunshine and flowers though, Bob Dylan caused a minor controversy when he was misqouted as saying, "wouldn't it be nice if we did something for farmers here in America?" Addmitedly he had only, however unwisely, suggested using a small portion of the proceeds to benefit local farmers, but all the same the events organizer Bob Geldof said of Dylan that "he displayed a complete lack of understanding of the issues raised by Live Aid... there is a radical difference between losing your livelihood and losing your life"
Later, Fox news pundit Bill O'Reilly critcised the lack of foresight shown by the organizers of live aid, claiming that much of the money raised for the starving people of Ethiopia had been instead siphoned off into the pockets of rebel armies in the war torn country. Whatever criticisms, however, were levelled at the event there can be no denying Live Aids success, and magnitude of importance in the history of music.
An as, if not more, important development for music to come out of the eighties was the culturally trendsetting Music Television channel. Debuting on the first of August 1981 with the words "Ladies and gentleman, rock and roll" MTV burst onto the scene with the appropriately ironic song, from British band the Bugles, "Video Killed the Radio Star"
I would write more about MTV, and indeed there is a shit ton more to talk about on the subject of Music Television. But then I doubt many of the younger crowd would believe half of the things I had to say, about when the channel was solely about music video's, when whole afternoons were spent showing hundreds of different songs from all kinds of artists and genres, and the only show's they had on were music oriented, like TRL and the Headbangers Ball. It is really quite unbelievable these days, and frankly I wouldn't wish to sully the reputation of Cracked by giving of the impression that its writers are prone to wild flights on fancy. The history of MTV is that they've been showing the Real World since World War Two.
Those Wankers are back
Proving yet again that the United Kingdom is culturally superior to it's web toed offspring America, numerous British acts found crazy success in the eighties. David Bowie continued to make waves with an ever progressive sound, and helped to birth other New Wave acts like Duran Duran, Adam Ant, and Spandau Ballet. Although technically Irish U2 spent enough time moaning about the mother country as to be labeled a UK act in most peoples eyes, and along with the likes of Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Judas Priest, and an ever more extravagant Queen formed a group of superstar stadium rock groups. More important still the likes of Dire Straits and WHAM excelled in the new medium of the music video, effectively laying the ground work for MTV's dominance and great influence later in the decade.
Sections of the music scene both in Britain and across the pond reacted negatively to this "Second British Invasion", seeing it as little more than the glorification of style over substance. Certainly bands like Flock of Seagulls (I Ran) and The Buggles (Video Killed the Radio Star) owe much of their success to MTV and the growing popularity of the music video, and as a result the Punk scene lashed out at actions they considered to be "glossing" over the music as expressed with the phrase, "Kill ugly pop stars".
Thankfully the British music scenes foray into commercialism has been largely forgotten about in recent times, with much of the blame for 80's musics rampant idiocy being placed on the shoulders of Rick Astley.
The bit at the End
The Eighties gets a bad rap. It was the ME generation, the decade of greed and style over substance. There is so much about that particular period of our history that begs to be hated; from vapid pop stars to arrogant rockers, boring as fuck goths and kinky electronica geeks. But when you look at it one thing really stands out, one universal truth, that the numbers don't lie. When it comes to record sales, sold out concerts, and sheer unabashed commercialism than the 1980's looms large. If there is one thing we can say about that decade, just one thing, it is that the decade did work. 80's music did fucking work.
Also, the eighties fucked your mom last night.