Mainstream was Coolest in the 80s??

Mootsy

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I've just spent ages watching music videos from the 80s...
Now, no doubt the 90s was good too, but more in an alt-rock/indie sort of way.
Is it just me or was mainstream music cool, raw, exciting back then and now it isn't at all, whatsoever.
'80s was new-wave and cool I guess.
Way better than today's mainstream.
The more I research the cooler the 80s get, in terms of mainstream singles across the board. Pretty amazing era for feature music.
It seems to be down to earth, raw, exciting! No doubt some cheese, but a lot of great memorable songs and a cool new-wave style.
We just don't have that anymore.
There's a list of great songs a mile long from that decade.

 
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Roobs321

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#8
I was born in the 80s.

I know this is more of a chart singles/youtube-heavy thread, but I'll just chuck in my favourite 80s albums:

1. Before Hollywood | The Go-Betweens
2. Faith | George Michael
3. The Queen is Dead | The Smiths
4. Closer | Joy Division
5. Temple of Low Men | Crowded House
6. True Blue | Madonna
7. The Colour of Spring | Talk Talk
8. Tender Prey | Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
9. Blade Runner | Vangelis (cheating a little given 1994 archival release)
10. Sunnyboys | Sunnyboys

11. Ocean Rain | Echo & the Bunnymen
12. Sign of the Times | Prince
13. Remain in Light | Talking Heads
14. Madonna | Madonna
15. Nebraska | Bruce Springsteen
16. Crocodiles | Echo & the Bunnymen
17. Porcupine | Echo & the Bunnymen
18. Love Over Gold | Dire Straits
19. Individuals | Sunnyboys (2015 reissue)
20. Rum, Sodomy & the Lash | The Pogues

21. Heaven Up Here | Echo & the Bunnymen
22. 16 Lovers Lane | The Go-Betweens
23. Nightclubbing | Grace Jones
24. Place Without a Postcard | Midnight Oil
25. Starfish | The Church
26. The Stone Roses | The Stone Roses
27. Under a Blood Red Sky | U2
28. Graceland | Paul Simon
29. So Much Water, So Close to Home | Paul Kelly
30. Thief | Tangerine Dream

31. The Firstborn is Dead | Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
32. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) | David Bowie
33. Blue Bell Knoll | Cocteau Twins
34. Murmur | R.E.M.
35. Circus Animals | Cold Chisel
36. Post | Paul Kelly
37. In Die Nacht | Asmus Tietchens
38. Get Some Fun | Sunnyboys
39. Antarctica | Vangelis
40. Reckless | Bryan Adams


Still got heaps to catch up with yet. Not quite as stellar as the 70s or 90s, but the more fragmented experience of the 80s at the time means there has been much to uncover and reconcile in retrospect (compared to the prior decades). Australia in particular owes much of its standards to the golden era of the 80s.
 
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DEVO

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#9
The late 70's was when I started getting into music so the whole New Wave era (1976-1983) is big for me. Even artists that a generally frowned upon later in their careers sounded good in the early 80's. I like a number of Kim Wilde's early singles (Cambodia in particular), but her later more "bubblegum/pop" sounding singles I dislike.

Australian music in the 80's was brilliant, so many wonderful artists, such as Models, Eurogliders, Icehouse, Divinyls, Reels, Midnight Oil, INXS, Hoodoo Gurus, Mental As Anything, Hunters & Collectors and Do-Re-Mi. Even the lesser knowns like Radiators, V. Spy V. Spy, Lime Spiders, Big Pig, Noiseworks, Mondo Rock and Sunnyboys. Millions more that I've missed.

Mainstream music went downhill in the late 80's when the SAW sound became big. Think Kylie Minogue or Rick Astley.
 

Bostonian

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#10
80s music benefitted greatly from the rise of music tv and print media. Made music and artists far more accessible to the public.
 

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Mootsy

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I’m talking about the core songs though. I’d take a band playing walk like an Egyptian over today’s mainstream stuff, today’s mainstream seems so unmemorable to me. Who is going to remember 80% of the pop garbage released these days. A lot of it is narcissistic dribble or goo.

Gimme the cool stuff in the mainstream.

Sorry, that’s a bit over the top, but I digress.
 

Papa G

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#13
80s music benefitted greatly from the rise of music tv and print media. Made music and artists far more accessible to the public.
Yep. Remember back then we only had 4 TV stations, radio and magazines. That was really the only forms of media or consumption. Music was so much more important, popular and less fragmented than it is today. People actively went out and consumed music, either through purchasing records/tapes and eventually CDS, or they went to gigs. Whilst this stuff still happens, there are far too many other options available and the place popular music has in the lives of people as a general rule is no where near the levels it used to be. Technology killed the radio star.
 

Richard Cranium

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#14
I’m talking about the core songs though. I’d take a band playing walk like an Egyptian over today’s mainstream stuff, today’s mainstream seems so unmemorable to me. Who is going to remember 80% of the pop garbage released these days. A lot of it is narcissistic dribble or goo.

Gimme the cool stuff in the mainstream.

Sorry, that’s a bit over the top, but I digress.
I think we might have different definitions of the word 'cool'. ;)
 

Papa G

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#16
People tend to forget that the 80s saw the rise of the greatest metal acts of all time too. Iron Maiden, Metalica, Slayer, Megadeth. Although not particularly mainstream, some of the most enduring an influential acts of all time.
 

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#17
leaving aside the subjectivity of cool, through the lens of 'now', there was plenty of raw and edgy music in the mainstream or flirting with it in other decades. elvis, rolling stones, led zeppelin. blondie a touch earlier than the 80's. and those are just some of the figureheads.
for mine, the 80's mainstream is both a high and low point. the musicality compared to today was still somewhat intact and music hadn't re-reached its comparative peak commodification after the buttoned-down crooner stuff had its day. so there was still some life in it, but it's also where it really started to go down the gurgler. it seems like a product of previous two decades' creative freedom (and technological advance), combined with new-fangled marketing still putting out creative music but poised to squeeze the life out it.
for the record i'm not a music historian by any means, and new-wave is a term i barely understand.

funnily enough i've had the first 3 tracks of janet jackson's 'control' on high rotation in the car lately.


comes in at 6 minutes, though there's probably a radio edit around somewhere. there's still some instrumentation. music has room to breathe, janet is only filling a few lyrical gaps with the sounds of her own voice. like a few current artists, the track gets by on its massive beats.

it's too bad mtv coincided with the embarrassing 80's fashion.
 

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I think the 90s was better.
It was overall yes, way less cheese, but I liked how the '80s had a new-wave style at the forefront of the mainstream. Now I'd describe it as something akin hailing from the New York era of Blondie. Talking Heads, Velvet Underground-style etc. But at least in the 80s it was mostly bands, groups, playing their instruments, so it all looks rather exciting as someone who doesn't remember it as i was too young, however it looks way better than the 2010's mainstream to me. Like real people with personalities who you can relate to playing guitars, synths, drums, bass, and writing good songs along with it.

If you look at the 2000's. A lot of the good songs/bands in that realm never really made the mainstream properly at all. So. I'm talking Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Shins, Arcade Fire, LCD and a long list of other bands that did well on the indie/live scene but rarely had a hit in the mainstream. In the 80s/90s bands sort of had more of a chance it seems to have a song on the popular charts etc..

The exception being The Black Keys had a huge song, "Gold on the Ceiling" in 2011. That was pretty rare to see in of itself.

Usually, post 2000, we don't get much 'good' band stuff on the charts. Not just rock, but anything. It's usually pretty lo-brow stuff on the charts.

In defence of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Zero" was a pretty big song for them, and it took them ten years to finally get a biggish song to do well.
 
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R Chee Manning

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#21
I've just spent ages watching music videos from the 80s...
Now, no doubt the 90s was good too, but more in an alt-rock/indie sort of way.
Is it just me or was mainstream music cool, raw, exciting back then and now it isn't at all, whatsoever.
'80s was new-wave and cool I guess.
Way better than today's mainstream.
The more I research the cooler the 80s get, in terms of mainstream singles across the board. Pretty amazing era for feature music.
It seems to be down to earth, raw, exciting! No doubt some cheese, but a lot of great memorable songs and a cool new-wave style.
We just don't have that anymore.
There's a list of great songs a mile long from that decade.


I've been watching some TOTP from the 80s on iplayer recently and what strikes me is how 'diverse' the mainstream was in the 80s...

The 80s saw the last of the mainstream Top 40 radio stations (for example 2SM and 3XY)...

Watching TOTP the other night I saw New Order Blue Monday, Bananarama I heard a rumor, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam Head to toe and <B>Kenny G Songbird!</B> So broad!

Yet the TOTP audience was happy to embrace each genre back to back (despite the extreme diversity) because it was all 'Top 40'...

Maybe the 80s was not only more 'mainstream' but more 'tolerant'.
 

Roobs321

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#22
90s was a bit like that as well though.


e.g. look at this top 10 from 16th June '96:

1. Fastlove - George Michael
2. Nobody Knows - The Tony Rich Project
3. X Files Theme - Triple X
4. Because you loved me - Celine Dion
5. Ooh-aah...Just a Little Bit - Gina G
6. Sexual Healing - Max-a-Million
7. Children - Robert Miles
8. Until it Sleeps - Metallica
9. Mission Impossible Theme - Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen
10. Runaway - The Corrs

Next few: Glycerine - Bush (11), How Bizarre - OMC (12), 1, 2, 3, 4 - Coolio (13), Ironic - Alanis Morrisette (14)

3 mostly wordless electronic/trance singles, sitting alongside Metallica (which went no.1 a few weeks earlier), Celine Dion, The Corrs, George Michael, Bush, OMC, Alanis Morissete, etc.
 
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DEVO

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#23
I think the 90s was better.
90's Independent/Alternative music was superior, but the mainstream stuff, no way. Mainstream "pop" music had already died before the decade had begun and the boy bands, hip-hop and female artists were a further step down on the ladder. Nothing memorable came from the 90's mainstream artists.
 

gopies1981

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#24
80’s was brilliant. The last decade to produce true superstars and icons like Michael Jackson thriller and bad albums, princes purple rain, Madonna’s like a virgin, true blue and like a prayer albums and of course that magical voice of Whitney Houston. Best decade of pop music. 90’s was ok but that decade was more about power Ballard’s and boy bands
 
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#25
90's Independent/Alternative music was superior, but the mainstream stuff, no way. Mainstream "pop" music had already died before the decade had begun and the boy bands, hip-hop and female artists were a further step down on the ladder. Nothing memorable came from the 90's mainstream artists.
Alternative music was pop in the 90s. Pop music doesn't necessarily mean that it's made with synthesizers . Like the Beatles were pop in the 60s.

So qhen i say that the 90s were better i am including bands like gnr, nirvana, smashing pumpkins, placebo etc
 
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