Friday, 15 February 2008
Culture Vulture Speaks! #2: 80's Music Redemption
Culture Vulture is flapping his wings and asking me to lay down a few ground rules concerning 80's music, in today's post:
1. Don't hate music because of the era from which it came from. The 1980s gets reviled as the decade of sartorial disasters, such as shoulder-pads, mullets, day-glo pants, spandex and violet eyeshadow. If the image and fashion sense of 80's artistes bothers you, well, then close your eyes but open up your ears.
2. Don't hate music of a particular era because your parents listened to it. (The exception applies to Engelbert Humperdinck...). Before the Internet, Ipods and mp3s, I admit, there wasn't much going on. But it wasn't a complete Dark Ages: there were record shops, walkmans, vinyl garage sales and music charts. Listening to music was a more tactile experience- you had to get the disc out of the sleeve/ case and into the player and you had to read the sleeve/ CD booklet for lyrics. Fandom was abit troublesome- to find out more about your favourite artiste there was no Myspace page or Wikipedia, you had to go to the library or bookshop and refer to hefty tomes such as "The Virgin Encyclopedia Of Rock" or "The Faber Book Of Pop". (quelle shock! Horreur!). There was no Google image finder if you wanted images of your favourite artistes, you had to spend some of your pocket money to buy magazines.
This is why your parents get misty-eyed or excited when they hear a certain song on the radio.This is whhy they start exclaiming things like, "Ooohhh I remember this!", "Ohh I used to have posters of him/ her/them all over my bedroom wall!". Just wait in another ten years, you'll be saying the same about EMO or American Idol winners (maybe...)
3.Don't close your mind to music of a certain era because of the instruments used on the tracks or the production. Would you hold production against Vivaldi, if recording equipment was available during the 17th century? 80's musicians didn't have 'Garage Band' software or digital recording techniques but they made the best out of what was available. So what, if the slap-bass makes you giggle, the synths sound cheesy, and the drums sound like wasps fighting in a biscuit-tin? That was all part of musical history. You'll never hear the likes of them again.
Redemption of 80's Artistes
1. Madonna- She wasn't always about Kabbalah and motherhood. She was a veryy naughty girl when she started out in 1982: ripped hemlines and conical bras, fruity song titles, such as "Like A Virgin",and "Into The Groove.". She was controversial but at least the songs measured up to the hype.
2. Rick Astley- . Before he became the infamous 'rickroll'd' internet phenomenon. Perhaps if he had been less cute and his videos less focused on his awkward dancing and tailored suits, he wouldn't be the easy choice for 80's music whipping boy. But this boy had a set of soul-singer pipes that could whip Michael Buble anyday.
3. Nik Kershaw- Another obvious choice for 80's artiste whipping boy, because of his Macgyver-mullet and Brooke Shield eyebrows. If you get past his anaemic vocals you will discover his formidable songwriting talent for putting weighty highbrow (no pun intended) subjects into smart pop tunes. He is the only artiste who has written a pop song about "Don Quixote".
4. Sting- (as above for Nik Kershaw, except for "Don Quixote"). In addition: He wasn't always this crappily safe, MOR and boring! He managed to sneak a song about stalking, "Every Breath You Take" into the Top Ten.
5. A-ha- There's more to them than "Take On Me'. They have been making beautiful if somewhat austere Scandinavian rock/pop since 1985.
6. Simple Minds- Listen to their output before 1985, before the activism and charity concerts. And ("Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Oohhhhhhhh..." ) Don't youuuuu complain about the lyrics. I know they do not make sense, but in a smart enigmatic way. Simple Minds never churned out radio-friendly love songs. They did have a hit with 'Love Song' in 1982, which isn't a love song at all but a sort of polemic against americanization.
7. Duran Duran- I'm sorry, there is no redeeming Duran Duran. The lead singer sounds like an elk going into labour, the other band members look like they failed the auditions for Japan, and "The Reflex" has not one but *two* godawful choruses