A lot of artists seem to be flirting with the 80s sound lately. I suppose that's not a bad thing. I mean, hey, 80's pop can be fun, right? If you're in the mood for a real 80s playlist... here you go! On the other hand, if you want that 80s sound, perhaps with a current interpretation... well.... here you go! It's a playlist of Talking Heads, Thompson Twins, Flock Of Seaguls and John Cougar Mellencamp, without the Talking Heads, Thompson Twins, Flock Of Seaguls and John Cougar Mellencamp.
The Decemberists do sound rather Mellencampish, in a good way, harkening back to his Lonesome Jubilee album from 87 in Down By The Water from their new CD The King Is Dead. Other tracks from the album sound like early R.E.M. In a good way.
Yeasayer's latest disk sounds like it came straight out of a vault of 80s synthpop. And it's a really fun listen.
Clearly, Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreaks album was a throwback to the 80s if ever there were one. And it was brilliant.
The problem with the 80s as an era creeps into this playlist as well. There were some real high points in the 80s, but there sure was a lot of radio-ready filler. Did Flock Of Seaguls ever need to put out actual albums? Please. They had four good songs at best. Remember Soft Cell? They had one song and it wasn't even one of their own. Tainted Love was a cover.
The 80s sound is making a bit of a comeback, as is the music industry's emphasis on one hit wonders and anything for a buck sellouts.
The new Cold War Kids CD is a perfect example. It isn't bad... but.... it's... well... it's filler. How on earth did THEY become a pop band? And Brandon Flowers, of The Killers? His new disk is anything but killer. It's custom made for airing on fake in-store radio. And the new Telekinesis!? Eh. It's got a few good songs, but mostly, it's as disposable as the third Men At Work album. "...Wait. There was a third album by Men At Work?" Exactly.
Lady Gaga can be the new Madonna for all I care. There's nothing wrong with a bit of cotton candy now and then, and a Gaga level of pure pop might as well be cotton candy... but if pop and rock merge the way they did in the 80s, where each new album played like the music equivalent of looping through the McDonald's drive through, well... the 90s can't come soon enough.
Where's the next Nirvana when we need them? We need them.