Somehow this morning ze Mara and I started looking at year-by-year lists of 1980s US pop singles. And we immediately noticed two things: in 1981, something happened that mysteriously transformed the music from feeling like "our parents' music" into feeling like "our music", shitty or not. In 1981, I was 12 and Mara was 10.
Beyond us getting older, looking at that list of singles I really couldn't identify what single thing might have changed that year. At first I thought it was maybe because this was the year we were finally allowed to make decisions about what station the car radio was on. But then it hit me like last post's never-mentioned meteorite: O duh, 1981 was the year MTV happened.
(And yet, for 1981's list of singles, only a handful of them had videos. Hmm. So maybe that was just the beginning: in 1982, I can literally see the video for almost every single song in my head. And some historically relevant bands begin to show up: The Police, Devo, The Pretenders, Prince, The Clash.)
And then suddenly in 1985, something else happened that transformed the Top 100 into a horrible swamp of vapid, sappy sound-alike bullshit. If I were Chuck Klosterman I would spend the next two days and roughly 10,000 words figuring out exactly what went wrong, but since I don't have that kind of time or devotion to pop culture deconstruction, I'll just blame it on the Yamaha DX7 and be done with it.
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