View single post by KGB
 Posted: Mon Apr 19th, 2021 01:32 pm
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Joined: Wed Jul 4th, 2012
Posts: 2407
I graduated HS in the class of 1989, so this decade was really my coming of age.  As srossi said, it all boils down to your personal experience, and for me it was a golden age.  I was truly blessed to have a fairly care-free existence, multiple circles of friends, a great mix of free-time and activities, and always had money in my pocket (I had part time jobs starting with a paper route just after my 11th birthday).

Music:  Popular music from this decade is fairly distinctive.  As others mentioned, the first couple years were kind of aimless as the late 70s sound was shed.  1981 was the year of corporate rock, with Journey, Styx, REO, and Foreigner all selling massive amounts of records.  But for me, 1982 is when the truly golden age of 80's pop kicked off.  Personally, I'd say it ran through mid 1985, with Live Aid being a convenient marker for its conclusion.  From that point through 1987 it was still mostly decent but the signs were there that we were due for a market correction.  1988 and 1989 is when the bottom fell out.  SiriusXM's 80s channel does a top 40 retro each weekend from a random year of that decade.  When they do one from 1989, it's almost appalling how poor the songs are.  I heard one last year and as God is my witness there were 7 straight songs with exactly the same tinny, manufactured beat.  You know the one -- think "Straight Up" by Paula Abdul -- tick...tick...BOOM, tick...tick...BOOM.  It was like listening to a medley.  The only variety was the occasional ballad or hair metal song.  Often, the ballad was by a hair metal band.  

There were a lot of things that led up to this decline.  Pre-packaged pop stars has always been a thing, but Madonna took things to another level.  And while her first few albums are uneven, they were admittedly filled with lots of very well-crafted pop songs.  As the imitators started to gain a toehold, from Tiffany to the aforementioned Paula Abdul, they lacked the songwriting to make true ear candy.  Another issue was the emergence of Whitney Houston in late 1985.  Just like that, we had the birth of the modern Diva.  Your Arethra Franklin's had been around forever, but Houston was the first pop singer who seemed hell bent on murdering every note placed before her.  Actually, it took a few more years before your Mariahs and Toni Braxtons truly made it a genre unto itself, but the die was cast for singers who shunned true melody.  Think about the way Steve Perry sang "Open Arms" vs. Mariah.  Perry takes his prodigious talents and puts them to use supporting the song.  Mariah, on the other hand, takes a very pretty melody and treats it like her latest BDSM victim.  The other thing that started to take hold in the middle of the decade was the Africanization of pop music, as evidenced by the percussion sections of every song sounding like someone pounding on a hollow log.   Rap started to make inroads into music and pop culture in the middle of the decade.  The Fat Boys were doing commercials for Swatch, Run DMC had the collaboration with Aerosmith, The Beastie Boys shot to stardom, etc.  Downstream from that, black acts on the pop charts began evolving from your Lionel Richies to your Bobby Browns.  Same thing happened, out goes the melody, in comes the dull beat.  

So, I'd say it's a little of both when it comes to 80s pop, there were a few years that are still underrated and a few years that are overrated.  Outside of pop music I think the decade is underrated overall.  Maybe that gets back to the ossified Rolling Stone/classic rock types who can't look past the 60s?  But there was a shit ton of truly great albums put out that decade that don't get quite the respect they deserve from the larger culture, although they get more positive attention now than they did 20 years ago.  

Movies:  In my 20s, I'd have said the 70s were a much better decade for movies than the 80s.  And that's still true from a critical standpoint.  But I think I now enjoy 80s movies more.  Today, I'd rather see a movie end with people playing in mountains of popcorn while "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" plays over the credits (Real Genius) than a psychopath shooting up johns and pimps who are abusing underage prostitutes.  I recognize the artistic merit in a film like Taxi Driver but I've moved on from marveling at how "cool" it is.   But overall, I'd say that 80s movies are neither overrated nor underrated.  Their place in pop culture is right about where it should be.