Scoot: Young Generations Are Embracing 80s Music As Their Own
by Scoot,posted Nov 5 2013 9:40AM
If you consider the music of the 80s to be your music, do you take comfort in knowing that younger generations are now singing and dancing to your music?
I first noticed the phenomenon of a twenty-something generation seemingly adopting 80s music as if it were their music at a small club in downtown Denver in 2002. The club was packed on their 80s night, and the majority of those who were there appeared to be in their twenties and they were not only dancing to groups like Duran Duran, Human League, and The Cure, but they seemed to know all the words to the songs. I recall standing next to a girl when the D.J. played “Holiday” by Madonna and she said, “Oh, I love this song! It reminds me of when I was 6!” – I said, “Yea, I love it, too. It reminds me of when I was 34!” Then I realized that a generation gap was being bridged by music!
This past weekend, I was again reminded of how different generations share a musical bond with the music of the 80s. Kid Rock had just finished his performance at Voodoo Fest on Sunday and the next group up was The Cure, the band that has been labeled a goth-rock, alternative band that gained mass popularity in the 1980s. The stage crew was breaking down Kid Rock’s equipment and The Cure’s crew was setting up for their show, when some of the die-hard fans of The Cure began to move through the crowd to find the best position near the stage before the show started.
It was a younger crowd that was excited about seeing The Cure. I noticed teens – some as young as 15 and 16 making an effort to get as close as they could for the show. The audience was demographically diverse, but there was definitely a large proportion of young people who were not even been born when The Cure were hitting one of their peaks in the late 1980s. It was obvious that a young generation was celebrating the music from an iconic 80s rock band.
Another reminder of a younger generation’s passion for 80s music happened Saturday night when I took a friend and his wife to 80s Night at One-Eyed Jacks in the French Quarter. Since Halloween was on a Thursday night this year, the weekly 80s night had been moved to Saturday night. I go to that 80s night often, but my friend and his wife were there for the first time and he was shocked by the number of twentysomthing people who were there dancing and singing some of the great songs from the 80s.
While witnessing the phenomenon of younger generations meeting the music of the past, I thought about growing up in my household and how I didn’t share any of the musical taste of my parents – and my parents didn’t share my taste in music. My Dad, who was into the big band sound of Glenn Miller and the melodic sounds of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, was highly critical of The Beatles and all of the music that was part of the British Invasion of the 1960s. I remember him expressing his opinion that all of that music wasn’t really music and that it was not real singing. He was convinced it was all a passing fad.
It is comforting for my generation to still see so many of the rock stars we grew up listening to still performing today – The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Rod Stewart. It is also great to see how the music I was playing on B97 in the 80s has been embraced by younger generations. Watching The Cure at Voodoo Fest, I consciously assessed the crowd and realized I was next to some people about my age, but much of the audience was made up of younger generations that had no personal relationship with the music.
Since first recognizing the embracing of 80s music by younger generations, I have wondered why they had a connection with the music. Music is the soundtrack of our lives and there will always be songs that remind us of where we were, who we were with and what we were going through when certain songs were popular. So, I find it interesting that younger generations with no actual memories from the songs of the 80s, would have developed such a passion for the music of that era.
For those of us who experienced the 80s, the music brings back memories of those years. When I listen to the general sound of the 80s, I hear music that is upbeat, fun to dance to and music that carried positive energy. Music is a product of the social and political climate at the time it is created. For the Baby Boomer generation and the generation that was going through its pre-teen and teen years, the music we call 80s music reflected good times. The economy was strong, Ronald Reagan was a popular president and the world was generally at peace. One of the top TV shows of the 80s was The Cosby Show, which was a departure from the Norman Lear shows, like “All in the Family” and “Maude,” which had dominated the TV ratings with heavy social and political messages. Overall, the 80s was a fun era!
Like every era, the 1980s were not without controversy and tense moments. The early music on MTV, which hit the air in 1981, included Duran Duran, Rick Springfield, Bon Jovi, Madonna, Human League and many other groups that produced upbeat music. But there was also the music that reflected the fear of nuclear war as the crusade to collapse communist nations gained momentum. Songs like “Shout” by Tears for Fears and “99 Luft Balloons” by Nena were thought to contain messages about the cost nuclear war would have on humanity. In general, however, 80s music was fun!
For the younger generations that are stressed and concerned about the world they live in today - from terrorism to the economy to paying back student loans and trying to find a decent job to the many controversial issues that plague society, perhaps the music of the 80s is a great escape from their reality.
As I watched The Cure Sunday, the music brought back good memories of playing the songs on the air and dancing to the songs at clubs – but for the younger generations, The Cure and the music of the 80s transported them, not to the past, but to a momentary safe place void of their problems.