I’ve always loved music. By the age of 4 or 5, I was a pretty ardent Beatles fan. I cut my teeth on “oldies” on the radio, Olivia Newton John, Linda Ronstadt and other soft rock, with some country sprinkled in. But my musical coming-of-age, if you will, was during the early days of MTV. While we didn’t have MTV in our house — my mom didn’t get cable TV until the late 90’s — I watched it at other people’s homes. MTV made music videos, as a medium, explode across the rest of TV. Anyone remember “Friday Night Videos”? More than that, MTV, at least I would argue, helped spread fresh music back through FM radio. Bands that had big video hits seemed to be able to make radio hits out of songs that probably wouldn’t have gotten much airplay otherwise.
What that whole period — 1982 through 1985 — did for me was expose me to all kinds of styles. Hard rock and heavy metal were starting to explode, hitting something of an apex with the success of the countless hairbands (which happily ended when “Grunge” took over in the early 90’s.) Punk morphed into a more listener-friendly style: New Wave. Rap (the nice kind that doesn’t talk about murder and drugs) also took off like a rocket.
I wasn’t necessarily into New Wave. In fact, I was more of a rocker. Van Halen was my favorite band back then. But New Wave, then and now, defined the sound of that period. Just like the Beatles or the Yardbirds take Baby Boomers back to the mid-60’s or Elvis and Buddy Holly take the previous generation back to the mid to late 50’s, New Wave takes me back the early to mid 80’s. Much of what is called “80’s music” these days is really the New Wave, which ranged from dark and edgy (The Cure) to pop (Soft Cell.)
I can hear the Beatles and not think of the 60’s or hear the Bee Gees and not think of the disco movement of the 70’s. But I almost cannot separate New Wave from that period. I can’t hear it in a vacuum.
All that said, this song, which, ironically, is from 2009, takes me right back to that period. I hear it a few times a week at the gym and I flash back — not necessarily in thought but in feeling — to 1983. It’s a pretty catchy song. I wish I had written or performed it.