Thinking Out Loud – 12/3

Hi folks–this is my last column for the Duquesne Duke this semester, because this week’s issue is ALSO the last one of the semester.  We’ll resume our regular shenanigans in early/mid January following winter break.  If you’d like to check out the entire newspaper, including archives of our previous issues this semester, check out Enjoy!
Cowabunga! The 80’s Are Back, Legit

I recently discovered the heavy metal band Steel Panther. As usual, however, I am a few years late to the party. The best mock rock band since Spinal Tap, Steel Panther has been churning out ’80s heavy metal riffs combined with over-the-top, ridiculously sexual, ’80s heavy metal lyrics for the better part of this decade. As overblown as their ’80s rock image is, it still accurately portrays that culture of music. (99 percent of these lyrics aren’t allowed in the average college newspaper, so I won’t even try.)

The 1980s – especially its music – falls right behind “scandalous political figures” as the easiest target for comedians and humorists, and for good reason. Take a look at any music video starring Van Halen front-man David Lee Roth. Back then, these videos were considered funny, wild and crazy. These days it’s hard enough to look at any singer from the era and accurately identify their gender on the first guess, let alone take them seriously.

But I have a warning for you Dukes. You may take shots at the music, movies and fashion of the “Molly Ringwald Era,” but take heed, because the ’80s are back.

First, let’s analyze what made ’80s music so appealing. Music videos were much more relevant to the songs of the ’80s than any videos are today. Two of the top singers from the era, George Michael of Wham! and Madonna, were stylish and sexy, and their music videos went a long way to promote that image. Also, remember that MTV actually played music videos during this time; the regular rotation of videos did more to promote the music than it ever would today.

Dance music has always been “sexy” because dancing was generally associated with … yeah, you get it. But ’80s rock music was overtly sexual. You might be thinking, “Duh. Rock music is typically sexual. And the sky is blue, too.” Recall that in the ’90s, however, rock music was primarily infused with brooding, emotionally distraught messages.

The heavy metal group Pantera tried their best to be KISS-revivalists for the entire Reagan administration and ditched the leather pants and glitzy showmanship for angry modern metal, come the new decade. Grunge music was officially in, and outlandish glam rock was out.

But now, the look and style of ’80s music is making a “triumphant” return, depending on your opinion of the time period. It may not seem obvious to you now, but think about some of today’s most popular artists.

Lady Gaga, a dance-floor phenomenon, coats herself in layers of makeup the way farmers shroud their crops in pounds of fertilizer. She’s a modern-day Madonna, unashamed to make music that likely will be mocked in 10 years.

Music by Nickelback, one of the most polarizing rock bands of the new millennium, has been described as everything from “the scourge of music history” to “kind of OK.” The band recently teamed with producer Mutt Lange, the man who helped to sculpt titanic rock albums from AC/DC, Def Leppard and Foreigner. The resulting album is chock-full of party anthems and cheesy “heart-on-sleeve” ballads that follow the same pattern as many ’80s glam rock albums.

But the most evident proof is American Idol darling Adam Lambert. If you’re near a computer, take a minute to search for a cover image of his new album, For Your Entertainment. I’ll wait … OK. Done? It’s crazy, isn’t it? Combine the image with a shrill singing voice that would make Freddie Mercury proud and his passé attitude toward his recent awards-show backlash (blaming parents for letting their children stay up to see his antics), and you have yourself a modern mixture of Roth and Michael.

But, for the moment, he’s still considered trendy. I rest my case. Eighties music is back, and whether you like it or not, chances are … you’re going to like it.

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