I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t this supposed to be a series about “fresh” music? Yes, BUT, the other day I overheard a devastating conversation and realized that some of our peers do not know who David Bowie is. As a moral and upstanding citizen I cannot allow this to continue.
For this week’s “Fresh Music Friday,” we will be looking at something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
To do that, we’re taking a blast to the past.
That’s right, welcome to the ’80s, baby.
The 21st Centuries Obsession with Nostalgia
In the year of our Lord 2019, us consumer-types love all things nostalgia. If you take a look at pop culture, it’s inundated with film, television, fashion and music inspired by the days of the past.
Think about it. TV shows like “Stranger Things” and movies like “It” use culture from the ’80s to evoke a familiar and relatable mood. Two of the top grossing Marvel films, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Thor: Ragnarok” utilize musical elements form the past like synthesizers and songs like “Hooked on a Feeling” to give the audience something that feels recognizable and familiar, despite the fact that you’re watching superheroes with green skin in space. Even TV shows like “Sex Education,” which takes place in the 21st century, utilizes ’80s fashion tropes. Again, it’s all about giving the viewer something that feels customary.
We love the feeling of the familiar, even if most of us weren’t alive to experience the blaze of glory known as the ’80s. We subconsciously associate the positive feelings with this era. The bright chords, upbeat melodies, and even the excessive use of synthesizers release endorphins in our brains that tell us, “You should like this. I don’t know why, but you should.”
That’s why it’s an important talking point regarding NEW music. To understand the new, we have to look at the old.
Take On Me
Anyway You Want It
I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
These three songs are penultimate ’80s. The electric piano of it all. I have a strong theory that unless I feel like I’m in a cheesy sci-fi film, then the song can’t really be from the ’80s. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.
And that’s the amazing thing about these songs. They evoke a mood and a memory. Even if we weren’t around when these songs came out, there’s a “feel-good” energy that accompanies a “happy memory” of sorts.
These two bands definitely took some notes from the artists above. Here we have “Ralphie” by Post Animal and “Berenstein” by The Band CAMINO. If you read last week’s Fresh Music Friday, then you’ve already heard my spiel about The Band CAMINO. I will restrain myself from beating the dead horse any further than I have to… but they are great and you definitely want to listen to them.
Both songs utilize the upbeat melodies coined in the ’80s and could absolutely be used in a Breakfast Club-style montage.
Fun fact, Post Animal’s lead singer is Joe Keery (aka Steve) from “Stranger Things.” So clearly, he’s found his brand.
Yes, these are covers, but they are covers that stay true to the original material while adding the artists’ own individual style. The first song, “Heroes,” originally sung by the king of ’80s culture himself, David Bowie, is covered by Peter Gabriel, an original member of the band Genesis. This version deconstructs the song from its original arrangement and reconstructs it with dramatic strings and a more melancholy voice. I would highly recommend listening to this at sunrise for any early risers.
The second is the classic ’80s anthem “Africa” by Toto. However, this version is covered by Weezer. If you’re not familiar with Weezer, well, that’s a whole other rabbit hole. But this cover leans into the Alt. Rock group’s roots and adds depth to the original. Oh, and without fail, more synthesizers. It’s like more cowbell, but better.
Okay, so there isn’t actually something blue, unless you’re talking about David Bowie’s eyeshadow, or Prince’s “Purple Rain.”
But then again. I guess that’s… well, purple.
What can I say, I thought the saying was cute. Speaking of “Purple Rain,” give it a listen.
BACK TO THE FUTURE…
Music isn’t a straight line. Music is a cycle that is constantly moving and changing. The more we listen and appreciate the “classics,” the more we can acknowledge their influence in current music.
And one last thing on nostalgia. It’s not a bad thing, in fact, it’s a great thing if you’re ever feeling down or depressed regarding the current state of your reality. Throw on one of these “oldies but goodies.” Let the overused synthesizer take you to a time where everything is colorful and the only thing you can remember are the things that have been romanticized.
It’s okay to lose yourself to the embrace of nostalgia. Find a little happiness in the past and bring it back to your present.
Happy listening, and as always, see you next week.