1980’s music – the decade that music forgot?

By 21/09/2020 No Comments

1980’s music  – Throwaway pop, or the beginning of something new?

It’s easy to remember 1980’s music for its throw away pop. The Stock Aitken and Waterman formulaic money-making machine seemed to dominate the airwaves. Hit factory stars dominated Top of the Pops, such as Kylie and Jason, Sonia, Mel and Kim, Sinitta and Rick Astley.

1980's music disco ball

You would be forgiven for thinking that this was all there was to offer. It’s easy to call 80’s pop shallow and throw away, but it sold plenty of albums, people loved it and one or two of the Hit Factory pop starts of this era have gone on to have fantastic music careers. It definitely worked for Kylie, and Rick Astley has made a comeback! After all, he was never going to give it up, let us down, run around and desert us. Not all 1980’s music was produced this way – who can forget Wham? No disco could be with out ‘Wake me up before you Go Go’! Madonna did her very best to completely shake up the pop world, bringing controversy with Like a Virgin and Pappa don’t Preach, into what had always been a sparkly, squeaky clean, extremely uncontroversial genre.

It’s not all about P1980's music thrillerop!

Don’t be fooled though into to thinking though it was just about Pop, some hugely iconic and popular albums came out in the 80’s that helped establish some of the biggest bands in music history. This decade delivered us some amazing albums with singles that still stand up today –


Michael Jackson – Thriller 1982 (I know it’s pop, but still an iconic album!)

Singles – Thriller, Beat It, Billy Jean (I could go on!)

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run 1984

Singles – Born to Run, Thunder Road

Prince – Purple Rain 1984

Singles – Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, Let’s go Crazy

U2 – The Joshua Tree 1987

Singles – Where The Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, With Or Without You

All of these artists and albums had a massive impact on the music world and helped shape many of the bands that came after them.

It’s starting to smell like teen spirit

The end of 1980s music saw a pretty rapid turnaround in musical fashion. The backlash to hair metal and formulaic pop saw grunge find its way into the mainstream. Rock music became a vanity contest in the early 80’s and the down to earth, meaningful and rebellious nature of the grunge movement contrasted that. The start of this shift in culture began with Guns ‘n’ Roses’ ground-breaking debut, Appetite for Destruction. The album tore apart the rulebook when it came to metal, merging the blues-based hard rock of AC/DC with the arena metal sound of Mötley Crüe. This change in style helped to pave the way for the rising popularity of indie rock. Sweet child ‘o’ mine became an instant classic. Whilst alt rock bands such as Jane’s Addiction and R.E.M were entering the mainstream, the Seattle grunge scene was blooming. The release of Nirvana’s Bleach, Soundgarden’s Screaming Life, and Mudhoney’s Superfuzz Bigmuff amongst others on the now iconic sub-pop label introduced the world to the sound of Seattle. This represented a shift in rock music from commercial arena bands to counter-culture scenes.

All in all then, the 80’s represent a decade where music was really finding it’s feet, and laying the foundations for the golden era of music that would emerge in the 90’s. Watch this space.

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Author Melody

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