The Decade of Dominance: 1980's

By Stevil, November 5th, 2016

Gary, Paul, Earl, and Darryl Jenifer, revolutionizing music as we knew it; 1982.

When discussing the most unique decade for music, a variety of factors must be carefully weighed in order to produce the clear, indisputable answer, which negates everything previously believed and argued in an effort to reach a conclusion that can never again be discussed. I believe I have done just that.

The most important thing to look at is the state of pop music compared and contrasted to everything else. The results are stunning, but easily explainable: pop music dominated the list of craptastrophies; punk rock dominated all that survived. This was the 1980's.

While there were certainly some noteworthy songs by various artists that were respectable, forced acts, such as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, New Kids on the Block, Paula Abdul, Poison, and Milli Vanilli, all had significant runs that paralleled a slew of one-hit wonders by [con]artists equally as bad as they were. The New Wave of the untalented had arrived and settled in.

But in the wake of this unholy plague of ear-shrieking filth, there was an antidote. While most of the many great bands from the 60's and 70's had faded out of the spotlight, their influence helped conceive a new generation of much-needed rebellion; bands that would refuse to accept an ounce of bullshit from anyone, whether from within the music industry itself, politics, or any significant social issue you could think of. That antidote was punk rock--and that generation still dominates the good that remains til this day. Need an example? Twenty two years after graduating from high school, I returned to the very place from which I was so eager to leave, to present a lecture on human trafficking. To my surprise--and liking--I found kids wearing t-shirts from the same bands that I proudly displayed across my chest (and still do) when I was in their shoes at the same age. That speaks volumes, as do I. But I'm not done rambling yet. This is also telling of my limited, mothball-riddled wardrobe, that will undoubtedly be fused with that old-man smell which we're all familiar with, despise, and have been nauseated from. Ironically, 80's pop has had the same lingering affect.

So, who were these saviors of the day you ask? I shouldn't have to list names. You should know the names by now if you're older than 15. But, to get you caught up, Descendents, Adolescents, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, 7 Seconds, Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, Dag Nasty, Black Flag, Youth Brigade, and Dead Kennedys, were among many that delivered. These were the bands most kids could relate to, or at least those who had recognized the farce that was passed off as popular in the mainstream. Punk rock in the 80's was made by kids themselves, and they've evolved into authentic leaders of today. They were leaders back then as well. My all-time favorite song writer is Paul McCartney. But musicians, such as Dave Smalley, Mike Palm, Bill Stevenson, John Kastner, Jello Biafra, and every one of the Bad Brains, to name a handful, are right up there at the top of my list. They didn't get there by chance, nor from a chemical influence. They earned it. They're the real deal. They tackled social issues from a point of view that was absent of cheese, lies, or standard thinking, and they did it their way. They did so with talent, energy, wits, brains, and guts. They did it without money, and so was born the concept of D.I.Y.

I've always hated hearing people claim they were/are old school, though no more so than I hated hearing anything from a defensive Madonna fan (side note: there were far better female role-models in the 80's, such as Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, and Mia Zapata). You never hear the pioneers themselves say that, but with roughly 30 years of punk rock under my belt, and all the lumps along the way, I have no issue stating definitively that punk rock remains the antidote for the world of music today that lacks depth and authenticity. I believe I've been around long enough to certify that statement. I believe I've been around long enough that I myself am deserving of someone listening to my biased opinions via experience over a beer--on their dime.

With that said, who's buyin'? While I wait for a response, I'll tune-out the sound of crickets with a great punk rock record from the 80's.

  • The early 90's can and should be integrated into this asservation.
  • Culture Club should have been mentioned on the short-list of craptastrophes.
  • The Cars get a pass as a pop band in the mainstream. They were great!
  • Cassettes remain the worst physical tool for recorded music. Fortunately, this was the tool of choice for most 80's mainstream acts.


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