I have fond memories of the '80s. It's not surprising. It was my "growing up" decade and with time, you tend to forget the bollocks and just remember the good stuff.

It's true of everything. I only have fond memories of high school despite the fact I was living a sexually repressed and frustrating existence. I'm more prone to remember Live-aid than my fears about nuclear armageddon. I remember loving the clothes of the day, but when I see the fashion now I cringe at the tight pants and big hair. And the shoulder pads. Oh, the shoulder pads.

No, I tend to remember only the good, leaving the bad and the ugly for the historians. So why should music be any different? Answer: it isn't.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard a new cover version of an '80s song and told Junkii (who doesn't have the same pop-cultural baggage from the '80s) about how great the original was, only to be proven absolutely and hopelessly wrong by the nearest mp3 I grab to prove that point.

Unfortunately, it's not only covers that trigger these unwanted memories. Nowadays, the radio waves are clogged with '80s-themed shows dredging up the most obscure pieces of crap that ever hit the charts. I heard "Easy Lover" by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey the other day.

I remember when that song came out, I just loved it. Over and over I would listen and think to myself "Wow! I'll never get tired of this song." Wrong!

It just sounds so dated. I can't even imagine someone doing a cover of this and making it sound current. That would be a considerable challenge. Hmm. Maybe someone can make a TV program based on that concept: give contestants a day to reconceptualize '80s cheeze. There's certainly plenty of songs out there to choose from that have great melodies with nasty arrangements.

Of course, that's not to say there are no good '80s songs. It's just that the best ones seem to be ones that didn't wallow in the excesses of the day: candy apple red "key"tars and hexagonal drums pads. Something like Queen's Under Pressure, for instance, sounds as fresh today as it did in '82.

Maybe I should just avoid listening to '80s music. That way I can keep my fond memories and, if someone happens
to do a decent cover of one of my faves from back in the day, I'll still be able to protect my childhood by stubbornly saying "Meh. It's good, but it's not as good as the original."

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4 responses »

  1. margotinto says:

    Really? I'm the opposite, my 80s memories are all full of angst, and I can't listen to '99 Red Balloons' without freaking out. Remember when they played that remake in that boxercise class and I had a crazy paranoid flashback?
    I don't know how many times some 80s song have come on Much More Retro, and I'd tell Getalife "You HAVE to hear this song", but no matter how good I remembered the song to be, the visuals are always so embarrassing that I feel the need to apologise. What I can't get over was how androgenous the fashions were, or the fact that people seem to be wearing their own clothes in music video, and like they'd done their own hair and make-up. Not made for digital close-ups, the 80s.
    All that being said, I saw something on TV the other night that was a complete 80s throw back, but I loved it. Do you know Lady Ga Ga? She performed a song at the Miss Universe pageant, and it was so good I actually ended up watching the swimsuit competition.

  2. I don't know Lady Ga Ga, but you can bet I'll be checking out her myspace page tonight (assuming she has one). As for the '80s – well, you were a new waver, so maybe that's why we had different experiences. But what was your issue with Luftballons? I forget (although I do remember you mentioned it at the gym).

  3. margotinto says:

    I'll post the Miss Universe clip, it's actually quite amusing in a way that they didn't mean for it to be.
    And what's my issue?! Did you not know the English version? "Panic bells, it's red alert, there's something here from somewhere else. The war machine springs to life, opens up one evil eye, focus in on summer sky, 99 red balloons go by…….99 dreams I have had, in every one a red balloon. It's all over and I'm standing pretty, in this dust that was a city. If I could find a souvenir, just to prove the world was here….." I mean COME ON. Between this song and Freddy Kreuger, I did not sleep between the ages of 6 and 18.

  4. Ah – you mean the fear of the nukes. Yeah, I had that. I can't tell you what nightmares I had when they released the film "The Day After." I think we all had that in the 80s.But like I said, Live Aid lives stronger in my mind. Guess I'm an optimist and you're a pessimist – which makes sense, given your love of the Cure. 🙂

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