Sunday, January 2, 2011

What 80's Music Is All About

When I think of music in the late 1970s or early 1980s, what I think of most is kids like the one below who, one day were in their bedroom in a middle class suburb playing around on a keyboard, and a few months later were worldwide sensations... not just in music, but in style and attitude. No help from fancy producers or marketing gurus. They just walked into a recording studio, and walked out as legends who still affect our musical experience today. It happened in those few years to a lucky group of kids: Gary Numan below, The Police, Devo, U2, Thompson Twins, Duran Duran... the list goes on.

It's cold outside
And the paint's peeling off of my walls
There's a man outside
In a long coat, grey hat, smoking a cigarette

Now the light fades out
And I wonder what I'm doing in a room like this
There's a knock on the door
And just for a second I thought I remembered you

So now I'm alone
Now I can think for myself
About little deals and issues
And things that I just don't understand
A white lie that night
Or a sly touch at times
I don't think it meant anything to you

So I open the door
It's the friend that I'd left in the hallway
'Please sit down'
A candlelit shadow on a wall near the bed

You know I hate to ask
But are 'friends' electric?
Only mine's broke down
And now I've no-one to love

So I found out your reasons
For the phone calls and smiles
And it hurts and I'm lonely
And I should never have tried
And I missed you tonight
So it's time to leave
You see it meant everything to me
And just in case the name Gary Numan doesn't instantly ring a bell for you (and I would be surprised if it does not), you can check out his more popular video to help yourself realize just how lasting an impact a 19-year-old kid with a keyboard in the suburbs used to be able to have on the world with one little song:


Anonymous said...

Yeah,agreed...80's music was seriously the lamest garbage ever recorded.with the exception of AC/DC's 'WHO MADE WHO'and'HEATSEEKER' and MOTORHEADS' 'ORGASMATRON' and 'ROCK N ROLL'the entire decade just absolutely sucked out loud.The deaths of John Bonham and John Lennon and the break-up of Pink Floyd pretty much sealed the fate of an entire musical decade.

Jungle Jil said...

I disagree with that.

The 80s started off tearing everything that had come before down to bare elements and building it back up.

You had U2, Ramones, and Sex Pistols tearing it down to the basics in rock at the beginning of the 80s, and by the end of the 80s (before Grunge), you had fantastically complex and layered rock from Def Leppard, and complicated cutting stuff from Metallica, and just fun and crisp hit-makers from Bon Jovi. (Even ACDC went from Back in Black in 1980 to the much slicker and harmonized Razor's Edge in 1990.)

You had guys like Devo and Gary Numan tearing it all down on the electronic side at the beginning of the 80s, and by the end of the 80s you had clever cutting edge groups like Information Society, INXS, and Pet Shop Boys... and mainstream artists like Madonna, Genesis, and George Michael who took technopop to a whole new level. (Even Pink Floyd's comeback at the end of the 80s was significantly effected by the decade's electronic/synthesizer creativity.)

You had Run DMC and Herbie Hancock breaking down 70's disco, soul, and funk and taking it in a whole new direction at the beginning of the 80s, and wound up at the end of the decade with rappers like Easy E and musicians like Prince taking it over from there. (Michael Jackson walked into the decade sounding like an opening act for Earth Wind and Fire, and left the 80s having gotten little ideas from every other performer of the decade... the one thing he did better than anybody else.)

Sadly, all the various genres never really came back together much after that.

(And, to follow up on my original point: Artists like the ones I mentioned (U2, Ramones, Sex Pistols, Devo, Gary Numan, Run DMC, Herbie Hancock) all started off as nobodies, but they not only shattered almost overnight the concepts of what music could be, but more importantly how music could be linked intrinsically to a look and/or to an attitude.

The idea of linking style, attitude, and fashion to music that started in the 70s really took root in the 80s. I always thought that was a fun concept: You could tell exactly what type of music a band played just by their hair styles and clothes. (You could always tell what kind of music a person you met liked by what kinds of clothes they were wearing too.) It went hand-in-hand so well with the video revolution that started in the 80s.

Obviously, the fashion is long gone, but there are as many songs written in the 80s that you'll still hear played 100 years from now as there are written in the 70s or 60s... and that is obviously something that one could not say about the 90s and 00's.

The 80s was an amazing decade of music overall, unless you're just flat out biased against anything that isn't rock music... in which case, there's just no point debating it.

Anonymous said...

LAME,LAMER AND LAMEST....THE 90's Rocked like the 80's didn't,maybe you missed Seattle?....the songs you think people will be listening to 100 yrs. from now are what?Flock of shitheads,er seagulls?or maybe Duran-Duran?it was a lame decade for music,the dark ages.AC/DC did what w/RAZORS EDGE? do not know what you are talking about there big guy.Every AC/DC CD is meant to sound exactly like the one before it,it is what makes them AC/DC.Go to Angus interviews on youtube and you can hear it directly from his own mouth.Gary Neuman,HA!!!!Lame,LAMER,And,yes...there you have it,LAMEST!!!Ur the only guy I have ever heard say the 80's produced gr8t music.MTV had its nice li'l run and died w/crap,I mean RAP musics' dominance in the urban scene.the metal bands you mentioned all idolized and emulated Zeppelin,POORLY!!!James Hetfield will even tell you that if ,again,you go check out youtube interviews.If Ozzy had gotten back into Sabbath b4 he was to old to sing anymore a li'l difference could have been for your agrument above about U-2 and sex pistols,again,you do not know what you are talking about.U-2's albums?all over produced to hide the fact that edge sucks as a guitarist...'Nevermind the..' is one of the most multi-layered over produced albums for its time.Li'l richard,Elvis,THE BEATLES led the fashion craze that gave those guys you mention the ideas,nothing new there either.FLOYD put an imitation version of itself out there and the album was just that,WATERLESS(get it?)imitation.The 80's:gone and forgotten,good riddance...oh Jil,When do you think anyone every went to youtube to watch"In Cars",other than to get a good laugh?

Jungle Jil said...

Well, like I said then: There's just no point debating it.