Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Music of the '80S Is Back, and Not All Bad Decade Produced Prince, Police

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Music of the '80S Is Back, and Not All Bad Decade Produced Prince, Police

Article excerpt

Finish this sentence. The Eighties were a decade of: A.) Funny

haircuts and cheesy videos. B.) Philosophy 101 students with

synthesizers pretending to social relevance. C.) Business as

usual for pop-culture.

If you answered C, you're on the right track. Sure, the

upcoming VH1 series 8 Days of 80s, airing Aug 17-24, trots out

some of the decade's ripest musical targets: John Cafferty and

the Beaver Brown Band; Flock of Seagulls; MC Hammer.

But were the '80s really that bad?

Well, no. Certainly there was Sigue Sigue Sputnik, Milli

Vanilli, and hair metal, but there was also U2, Prince, Bruce

Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Public Enemy, Madonna, Michael

Jackson and the Police. That's not to mention Pat Benatar,

R.E.M., Talking Heads, Run-DMC, Living Colour, The Smiths, Bad

Brains, De La Soul, Van Halen and Anita Baker.

So why do we remember the '80s as being so, well, ugh?

Part of it has to do with the fragmentation of the musical

landscape, said David McLees, vice president of Rhino Records.

There was not much fan overlap between, say, Twisted Sister and

Culture Club, even though one might swear Dee Snider and Boy

George shopped at the same clothing store. The result is most

people remember a lot of things about the '80s they didn't like.

Rap especially, like rock before it, drove a wedge between

musical factions.

"Hip-hop has defined the musical aesthetic for this

generation," said Bob Doerschuk, editor of Musician magazine.

"But a lot of people thought rap was noise. But you have to

remember that people thought that about Jimi Hendrix, too."

There also was the rise of the video culture, with MTV taking

the place of radio as the place to break bands. That's why the

upcoming VH1 special, and Rhino's discs based on VH1's The Big

80s series, deal largely with artists who had a presence on

video, such as Men Without Hats, Toni Basil, Nena.

For many, video's dominance represented the ultimate triumph of

style over substance. But that isn't entirely accurate,

Doerschuk said. The visual element has always been important in

pop music; video just drove that point home. …

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