This post was going to be about an amazingly dated aerobics video from the eighties. I may still write a post about it but as my fingers started tapping, I realised two things. Although the 80s decade is often criticised for its fashion and music, you can always find an eighties disco to Wham! Rap in.
Also, its structural similarity to the sixties, often classed as the decade that changed music and fashion forever, is somewhat remarkable. After considering all of the ‘evidence’ – I grew up in the 80s as a mod, so missed out on the most of it – I have to come down in favour of the eighties’ pop culture as being the most diverse decade there has ever been. Have a read, see what you think…
The eighties contained probably the greatest shift in music and fashion ever. And I include the sixties in that, a decade renowned for The Beatles changing the face of Pop culture forever at one end and the greatest ever guitarist(s) rocking it out at the other.
The two decades do share more than just passing resemblances, but the diversity of the eighties for me gives it the edge over the sixties for changing the face of popular music as we know it.
Both the sixties and the eighties started out all brushed hair, suits, starched collars and pencil ties and ended on a radically more casual note. The aforementioned Beatles went through this dynamic fashion change in their own lifespan.
From looking like they were going for job interviews in the early sixties (in Liverpool? Yeah, right), by the time they finished in ’69, they looked more like students than jobseekers.
The same can be said of groups like The Jam, Secret Affair and The Specials who found prominence in the late 70s/early 80sonly for the decade to play out with grunge and thrash metal. The real difference between the two decades for me was the incredible melting pot of music that overflowed into the charts in between, yet quite comfortably alongside one another.
Electro was being born from the roots of reggae and ska combined with the keyboards of The New Romantics at the beginning of the 80s. Men with eyeliner, double-breasted, large shoulder-padded suits, slim ties and floppy hair were crooning to swooning female audiences. Sound familiar?
Yet raw alternative music, artists like U2, R.E.M., INXS, The Police, Depeche Mode, The Alarm and Simple Minds all found fame and fortune – and longevity – at the same time.
In the middle of the eighties the new romantic sound gave way to the coolest pop music ever to hit the planet. I’m just talking ‘pop’ – give me Hendrix, Cobain or Weller any day.
Bands like Aztec Camera, Curiosity Killed The Cat, Swing Out Sister, Erasure, Bronski Beat, Wham, Bros, Frankie Goes To Hollywood were absolutely huge – the list is endless of quality pop bands thrown up in the middle of the eighties.
Then as the decade gave way to the birth of indie really impacting on the mainstream charts (think Charlatans, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, Pop Will Eat Itself, Mighty Lemondrops, The Wonderstuff, Jesus Jones, The Farm – again I could go on for hours and I probably will), fashion eased off again.
And just as at the end of the sixties, Ibiza took over. The Happy Mondays were much to blame, but that slow, steady beat that featured on Ballearic dancefloors way into the night sat alongside the indie sound in the charts. The birth of Cream and the baggy trousers, kaftan-inspired sloppy sweatshirts and ponchos all had their roots in The Med.
The rise of grunge on the back of thrash metal, with Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam rocking out the eighties much the way Clapton, Hendrix and Townsend closed out the sixties, rounded off the most perfect transforamtion the world of music and fashion has ever seen.