One of the topics I’ve continually drawn on in my online writing/blogging has been in genuine, non ironic defense of the general culture of the 1980’s. Of course all one would have to do is notice that, in using that decade to essentially ridicule the following 1990’s decades malign of that 1980’s era not only more than a bit hypocritical, but might in fact weaken my own case. My own personal relationship with the 1980’s music culture as it was occurring ran far deeper than I ever knew. And it still continues on into this day. There are always new musical discoveries from the 80’s era-even directions un-taken that I’ve discovered today. And there are many other music lovers who’ve come to similar conclusions. Still its impossible to get away from the fact that while the music world has finally resolved its uneasy relationship the disco era of the late 70’s and even to a degree the lighter end of jazz fusion, the 80’s remains an extremely bullied decade musically. There are two examples of this that have been uppermost in my mind of late and inspired this blog.
The term “antieightiesitis” is one of my own creation of course-explained in another blog I wrote as being a tongue-in-cheek description of the viral-like pattern of disgust for the 1980’s in popular culture. The first example of this bullying against the 1980’s came in the most recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine featuring Daft Punk on its cover,interestingly enough an act heavily inspired in their EDM musical creations by a very strong 80’s aesthetic. In their review column writer Jon Dolan reviews the 30th anniversary edition of Huey Lewis & The News iconic Sports album with the subheading “a nine-times platinum monument to eighties cheese”-before going into a very insulting two paragraph review of the album itself . Not more than a few moments later did I observe a YouTube video on my subscription area from WatchMojo called “Top 10 Ridiculous 80’s Music Videos”. I seldom hear words such as cheesy,tacky,tasteless and ridiculous applied to a particular time frame more than the 1980’s. Since everyone has the right to have an opinion, I will at least try to intermingle mine with truthful facts.
As with any musician of any era Huey Lewis is defined by human flaw. But Huey was a man who,along with his band the News worked the serious dues paying end of the low rock touring circuit for almost a decade-moving from a more jazz and funk oriented sound to a sparkling and carefully crafted pop/rock approach that sounded like no one else. He did get MTV and radio play in saturation. While James Brown will forever hold the title of the Hardest Working Man In Show Business, Huey Lewis is a pretty close second and based on work ethic alone deserved his success. Another major criticism of the ideas has to do with Ronald Reagan’s effect on the pop culture of the time. In particular his emphasis on “traditional American values” as defined by his sociopolitical agenda. Most of the black community from what I’ve heard from them have an eternal anger towards this era’s (non hip-hop) music,especially those who lived in lower middle classic areas effected heaviest by Reaganomics in general. Again there is another side to this coin.
Aside from revisionist political outlooks, there was such a good deal of the counter cultural and societal futurism of JFK’s “new frontier” still left in society at the turn of the 80’s that it intermingled with the quality of 1930’s/1940’s art deco style design to create a new “retro-nouveau” style of art work for music video and album covers that blended into it the digitized computer/video game visual flavors of the era-much as the picture you see above you here. Not only that but the fashion and approach of music-from the bright primary neon of clothing to the glistening (and very human) echo of electronic synthesizers used so often in music of this period added a vitality and sense of color that came equally as much from the free love,not war aesthetic of the 60’s counter culture as it came from traditional Great Depression era faux conservatism. My personal viewpoint is that the entire 1980’s music culture,from the fashion to the songs themselves are monumentally mistreated by the majority of society. And perhaps if we could embrace more of the color of that era with our broader minds and technology, people so hard on the 80’s culture in general might not feel so miserable as to be vulnerable to the dread disease of “antieightiesitis”.