OPINION: Enough with the Eighties


The Cars

There seems to have been an eighties revival in electronic music lately.  It as though almost every new electronic artist I’m made aware of incorporates the bright new-wave synth sound, splashy sounding synth drum hits, and even synthy distorted vocals.  I think it is really getting out of hand.

Recently there was the release of the Tron sequel featuring Daft Punk’s synth’ed up soundtrack.  The movie “Drive” features hot pink titles and style reminiscent of Miami Vice with even similar 80’s sounding music by College, Desire, mixed in with a beautiful score composed by Cliff Martinez.  It was all well and good, but reminded me of The Cars (see totally awesome pic above) or other new wave artists from the era.

I will also point out Crystal Castles as an example.  I love what they do, but they are guilty of all of the above eighties musical traits and have even employed the help The Cure frontman Robert Smith to provide vocals on their remix of “Not in Love” (which was released in 2010 and you can find on this link from RCRDLBL.com.)

I’m a fan of blending genres together to create new sounds but once someone delivers that sound, I think artists should look to try to add to it or create something different, rather than repeat what they have heard.  However it seems less and less like house or dance music and simply more like 80’s pop music.  On the lesser known side, you have artists that are including millions of electronic beeps and blips with their music reminiscent of  Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack.

I suppose it is a bit hypocritical of me to rip on these artists when I first really got into electronic music, the acid jazz sound intrigued me.  I couldn’t get enough of artists like St. Germain and Mark Farina who mixed traditional jazz instrumentation with dance and electronic beats. I also really enjoy artists that meld different eras of music together such as Bara Broest (put in 20’s flapper sounds) and Hashfinger (using 60’s soundtracks/lounge music).

Maybe what is bothering me is just the fact I can’t really understand what the fixation with the 80‘s sound is or what brought it on.  It wasn’t particularly interesting.  Some artists can make it interesting if they only add  samples of it or just tastes of it mixed in with some other musical ideas. For older musicians, they really shouldn’t for young musicians these days since they were born during that time and were perhaps curious about it.  I can understand where in electronica it makes sense since music in the 80’s was mostly synth driven.

Perhaps artists like Faltermeyer, Herbie Hancock, and all of those new wave artists from the 80’s would be pleased that their original works were seemingly an inspiration for tons of aspiring DJ’s and musicians almost 30 years later, but I really think it is time to move on.