Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

1984: American pop’s best year?


It remains one of the most impactful periods in music; Rolling Stone magazine called 1984 “pop’s greatest year…New Wave, R&B, hip-hop, mascara’d hard rock and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic all crossed paths on the charts.” In one poll, 1984 ranked number four in the all-time best years of American music.

Contrast all that with today, when new music choices seem limited to country tunes or some warped version of Drake, 1984 had something for everyone. Legends such as Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, and Paul McCartney introduced themselves to the children of the children they entertained in the 1960s. Our parents—and in my case, grandparents—had their own copies of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the top-selling album of all-time that debuted in 1982 but still dominated the record charts in the spring of 1984.

The year was so cool that Van Halen named an entire album after it.

Kelly goes on to cite John Cougar Mellonhead, Bruce “Limousine Liberal” Springstain, Huey Louie, and a whole passel of others I can’t stand, excepting maybe the Cars, who are…meh, all right, I guess. Then you get a couple of old 60’s fossils in the comments declaring that THAT decades music rules, and everything else drools. I do wholeheartedly agree with Julie’s assertion that today’s stuff is utter and complete garbage, which makes it kind of ironic that the seeds for a lot of it were sown by 80s electronic, emasculated, discofied technodreck. Bottom line: ever notice how almost all of us believe the music we listened to during our formative years to be the BEST MUSIC EVER? Except for this guy:

I graduated from high school in ’83, college in ’87, and I didn’t like 80s music then, and I don’t like it now. Watching Season 3 of “Stranger Things” this week only reminds me of how much I dislike/d it.

In the 80s I was a teenager listening to the American Songbook, Big Band, Jazz, and Swing. America’s best decade of pop music was the 1940s followed by the 50s. Pop music, like everything else, took a wrong turn in the 1960s.

NOW you’re playing my tune, young feller.


5 thoughts on “1984: American pop’s best year?

  1. 1984 was the year of the Minneapolis Sound: Prince’s “Purple Rain,” the Replacements’ “Let It Be,” and Husker Du’s “Zen Arcade” came out, and all became hugely influential. The Minutemen’s “Double Nickels on the Dime” and R.E.M.’s “Reckoning” also dropped in ’84. “Purple Rain” was a massively successful album and film, but not really pop. I think pop music that year, like most years, sucked.

  2. Jesus FUCK! I’ve never heard anything like this! What’s it called? ‘That, young person, is Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Listen. and dance’.

  3. I’m 76 this month, so I not only remember the 60s, 70s, 80s and so forth, I also remember the 50s. On AM radio in Boston (no FM, no HiFi, no stereo, no 33 1/3s) one could here some early rock and roll (Little Richard, Fats Domino), actual jazz, classical, the standards, some blues, but NO country western. I guess I got imprinted. There is very little country western I like, and all of it is from the 50s.

    I’m not going to rank the eras, except to say that sometime after 1980 the music died.

    Some people have studied the trends in popular music since say 1960, analyzing thousands of songs. They find that the vocabulary of the songs has become very simplified and restricted, that the rhythms have been greatly simplified, the dynamic ranges have become very narrow, and the concepts expressed dumbed down. So once we had the Yardbirds and Eric Clapton and Talking Heads, and now we have rap-is-crap.

    A while ago, music companies, TV producers and even book companies spent a lot of money on psychologists to determine what makes a best seller. There now are actual formulas on how to do it. Needless to say, the formulas are aimed at dummies.

  4. I thought I was an old fart. The grandkids listen to beebs and boops, video game music. Whatever gets entrained in the brain, I guess.

    Check out spotify. A lot of people we listened to back then continued to make music for a long time, even though we never heard it.

    1. I have a few lines stuck in my head, but can ‘t place it. I’ll inflict it on you guys, any idea?
      “She heard my voice, she called my name, i always knew that i would end up with the blame. What’s she gonna say, what’s she gonna do, when she comes home and finds me here with you?”

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