Do you hear those magnificent 8 bits blasting? Or that sweet synth from “Crockett’s Theme”? Or maybe you can feel it coming into air tonight? Okay, an article covering the Reagan era, the era when Mr.Gorbachow actually did tear down the wall (so to speak), the era wich saw yuppies walking like Egyptians, might as well consist purely of punchlines and trash culture references. Anyhow, It’s time to cover the first MTV generation, the decade when the drum snare was rock solid, the Rain was mostly purple and Bowie boasted a platinum mullet under a serious moonlight. It’s the 80’s artwork flashback! We shall continue with or without you!
Roll in the Creame VHS!
We’re Countrywide, We’ve Gone too Far
They say that video killed the radio star. Well, to some extent it actually did. MTV was launched in the distant 1981 and in its initial phase, there was a ridiculously small amount of music videos rotating for the whole 24/7. However. they managed to make a blueprint for the things to come. In no time, the channel transformed into the entertainment colossus we recognize today and to be played on it, meant that you’ve made it big. The music video for “Video killed the radio star” was the first music video ever to be played on MTV. The two backup singers visible here and there behind the somewhat geekish figures featured in the clip (Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes) are the reason we picked this particular artwork as our first 80’s artwork representative. All in all, the duo was not particularly successful in their prophecies. The radio star is pretty much alive and well while the same unfortunately cannot be said about their band “The Buggles”. You know what’s the playlist in this case!
You Belong to the City
Shivers are still felt down all of those spines who experienced the famous “In the Air Tonight” sequence of Miami Vice’s pilot episode “Brother’s Keeper”. As if the Phil Collins’ melodramatic drum break wouldn’t be powerful enough by itself, the tense grimace of Sonny Crockett simply turned the whole scene into the kind of 80’s machismo celebration the decade is so loved for (besides already mentioned mullets, padded blazers and jet fighters piloted by Tom Cruise). It was the first time when a contemporary song was used in such manner, cementing the TV show’s reputation as a serious and innovative television entertainment. From then on, blazers with V-necks underneath were spreading like a wildfire. Crockett’s wardrobe encompassed the 80’s consumer culture and challenged the traditional masculinity like no other before. He wore pink, purple and pastel and somehow still managed to not a give damn while effortlessly transcending a vibe of badassery for which there should be a license issued. Why “Mid Afternoon at the plastic garden” by Alexander Grahovsky as the second of the 80’s artwork flashback? Well, just take a look at the show’s intro.
Van Halen played hard, drank hard and sometimes drank so hard it was rather difficult to play hard afterwards. Nonetheless, they were the perfect 80’s hair metal/glam rock incarnation. A superb quartet, including the guitar virtuoso that was (and still is) Eddie Van Halen next to the flamboyant and always over-the-top David Lee Roth (later replaced with the much tamer Sammy Hagar) making splits, demonstrating his martial art skills and throwing somersaults both on the stage and in the hotel room afterwards. They simply encompass a huge chunk of what the 80’s trashy side was all about (apart from the highly, intellectual and the internationally worshipped 80’s underground art scene). It was all about six packs (of beer), boombox on the shoulder, a single shiny glove, cheesy infomercials, gallons of hairspray and the dilemma between Pepsi and Coke (yeah, the soda thing, although the other substance was also highly popular during the decade). Rock music reached its commercial peak and Jack Daniels became the official substitute for water. The energy was electric and “Jump” hit the charts hard during the great 1984. Cold War could not possibly be more enjoyable at that point. As for the 80’s artwork representative, we’ve picked something that everyone has done while listening to that catchy chorus.
There’s Old Wave, There’s New Wave
New wave, though actually, a product of the late 70’s pop culture, was something that defined the first half of the 80’s. To get the vibe (although there are, of course, more sophisticated examples), you can put on “I Ran” by “The Flock of Seagulls” or something from “Thompson Twins”. The somewhat nostalgic but energetic sound was the beat that moved your Nissan 300ZX against the burning Californian sunset. Weird and gravity defying haircuts, make-up to scare your mom, gender bending pose… all of it compiled up to build a music style where looks were as important as the music you played (“Visage”, though, took it to the extremes). Honorable mention would be Gary Numan. This UK-bred, one-finger-synth-player gave as “Cars”, another record that simply never gets dull. The same could be said about “Are “Friends” Electric”. Okay, it was recorded at the dawn of the 80’s, but boy, what an entry into the decade!
It’s completely impossible to squeeze the whole decade into a single article. There was just so much going on every creative discipline imaginable. We take all the rebuke aimed at us, for the fact that we made a huge leap over 80’s cinema (“Terminator”, “Aliens”, “Indiana Jones’, “Star Wars” prequels), figures like Madge, Michael Jackson and 80’s icons like Boy George, Billy Idol or the twisted TV persona of Max Headroom. Or even the previously unknown exploitation of the second deadly sin done by Yuppies… Boy, this almost begs for the Part II of the 80’s artwork flashback. We’ll finish off with a reference to Nena’s song about an accidental nuclear war. Doesn’t sound too promising, but the shadow of the Cold War was an important aspect of the 80’s. And rarely does a song by a German artist hit the Billboard chart that high. It was only stopped at the last moment by none other than…yes, “Jump” by Van Halen.
Back to the Future with Creame!