The 80s. The decade that everyone wanted to forget is back with vengeance and it is big business. Whether it is try hard students wearing outfits which look they have daubed themselves in superglue and rolled in a dressing up box, or school kids discovering the allure of such cult classic movies as The Lost Boys or Labyrinth, looking to the more recent past has never been so popular.
Having grown up in the 1980s, I will always have a fondness for things that remind me of the halcyon days of my youth. Cartoons like ‘Trapdoor,’ ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ and ‘Gem’ played out a background of psychedelic colours as I played with my Cabbage Patch dolls and trolls. It seems like only yesterday but the smallest things bring the memories flooding back: the rustle of a shell suit, the smell of a crispy pancake or the opening theme tune to Funhouse and I am back there.
As my Mum was only a teenager when she had me, music also had a huge influence on me in my formative years. It all seemed so new and exciting then. The dawn of big-budget music videos, increasing use of synthesisers and electronic sounds blew listeners minds. It was the era of the novelty track. Who hasn’t been to a family party and danced to songs like “Itsy, Bitsy, Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” or “Agadoo”? Teeny boppers like Bros and the Thompson Twins kept young girls happy, while crooners like Cliff Richard and Julio Iglesias kept the old folks entertained. But behind the bubble gum pop and manufactured sounds, a dark edgy sub-culture existed. The dark side of the 80s.
To those who were there, it comes as no surprise. Nostalgia aside, the 80s really were a bit crap. Unemployment was at a record high, the country was plagued by violent strikes and the country was ruled by upper-class establishment types who young people just couldn’t relate to. But it produced bloody good music.
My personal favourites are of course The Smiths, however bands like Joy Division, The Cure and The Jesus and Mary Chain paved the way for the alternative bands of today. Honest and sardonic lyrics and creepy instrumentals with haunting melodies, spoke out to a whole generation of disaffected youths. Two stalwarts of the genre, Nick Cave and The Cult come to the North West at the end of this month, with gigs in Manchester. However, with their music being so evocative of the turbulent 80s, are they capable of attracting a new generation who know nothing of their influences, with songs which resonate so clearly of a former time. Of course they are.
Objectively, if we take a look at the economic climate of the Naughties, is it so different? Whatever the era, there will always be over-sensitive teenagers with floppy fringes and too much black eyeliner, who yearn for the deep and meaningful imagery these band’s beautiful lyrics create. Inside, I am still one of them.