Saturday, June 01, 2019

About the 80s

The latest iteration of the unkillable NOW franchise would appear to be something called Forgotten 80s, a collection of 100 songs that a) were originally released in the 1980s and b) would appear to have been forgotten by someone or other. It’s this last bit that confuses me; who’s supposed to have forgotten them? And at what point are they remembered, if at all? When you read the titles? When you play the songs? Or are they buried so deep in the subconscious that they feel like entirely new songs, thus perfecting the music industry’s preferred tactic of re-issue/re-package to infinity?

I am, presumably, the target market for this sort of thing, having spent the entirety of my teenage years in that strange country we call the 80s. Unfortunately, when I looked at the track listing, I’d stubbornly refused to forget pretty much any of the songs included, whether they were loved (‘Louise’, ‘Da Da Da’, ‘Zoom’, the fabulous ‘Sonic Boom Boy’) or despised (‘Every Loser Wins’ by thin-tied wide-chinned Nick Berry). Which means, I guess, that I’m not the target market after all. The only exception was ‘Living on Video’, a 1983 hit by the Canadian band Trans-X. When I played it, I thought I vaguely recalled the flutey synth riff, but then again that could have been from 20 or 30 other songs of the time. And as I watched the video, which is so quintessentially 80s (The Hair! The Computers! The Earrings!) as to be veering into Lufthansa Terminal territory, I did briefly consider whether it might be also be a gloriously arch spoof, a recent concoction crowbarred into a decade-specific compilation to play games with critics who claimed to remember (and hate) it from the first time round.

And now I wonder if there are other people of my generation, hoping against hope that the one or two tracks they’ve tried and failed to retrieve from their own decaying hippocampi (Transvision Vamp? China Crisis? Sydney Youngblood?) are just tawdry postmodern japes and that in fact, their memories are as pure and clear and entire as they could ever be. Too Good To Be Forgotten, or Not Bad Enough To Be Remembered?

PS: And if you really can’t remember F.R. David or Haysi Fantayzee, you’ll probably have trouble with this as well.

1 comment:

Brian Busby said...

Would that "Living on Video" was a spoof. Because Trans-X was from Montreal - my home town - it was unavoidable. As a young pup, I sneered at the thing. Who did these guys think they were fooling? Why not a song about the Rubik's Cube or Trivial Pursuit? Hell, it followed on the heels of "PacMan Fever" - and that song was for idiots. Still, I bought the single because I was certain it would disappear and be... well, forgotten. Instead, there have been 36 years of reissues, remixes, and new versions. Is "Living on Video 2002" superior to "Living on Video 2K6"? I'm too exhausted to give the question thought.