Anna Campbell

August 2012



80s Hair Bands Galore (part 2)

Welcome back to another session of complete self-indulgence on the part of A. Campbell esquire. This is the second part of my piece on favorite synthesizer bands of the 1980s.  Again a definite British bias, although this month a Norwegian and an Aussie band have squeaked in. Which is what you do if you play a synthesizer! Hope you have fun with the videos. I sure had fun finding them and reliving my salad days. I wore shoulder pads with the best of them, although sadly my very fine blonde hair just wouldn’t do the boofy thing. Sigh. My hair was permanently fixed in the 1970s!

First up the Aussie band. I loved The Church right from their first single The Unguarded Moment. They just had that moody, sexy feel that I respond to in popular music. Sadly, I couldn’t find a video of TUM that would play internationally so I had to go for their only international hit, Under the Milky Way. It’s got that same shadowy atmosphere so I hope you enjoy a bit of Aussie misery pop.

Next one is also moody and romantic. I love the video for this – the images of black and white ballrooms and other olden days hijinks really suit the song. I hope you enjoy Dance Hall Days by Wang Chung. There’s a beautiful and sad feeling of innocence lost when you listen to this music.

And now for the Norwegians. It had to be A-Ha and Take On Me, didn’t it? How many other Norwegian bands can you name? Unless of course you’re Norwegian! I first heard this song when I was holidaying in the Canary Islands in 1985. I’d had the most awful dose of the flu after working on an outdoor stall in Covent Garden market just as the weather turned cold. So I was in a complete daze of exhaustion for most of the week I went sun-hunting in Tenerife. This song started to feel like part of my feverish delusions! I assumed this song they played over and over on the radio was Spanish (the Canaries are officially part of Spain) – what a shock when I discovered it was Norwegian and I wasn’t the only person who loved the synthesizer riff. The video is a classic, an incredibly clever mélange of animation and live action. Altogether, I will take on TAKE ON ME!

Now we’re back to moody and British. I love Love My Way by the Psychedelic Furs. It’s campy, it’s over the top, but it really captures that sulky, sexy mood that I like in a pop song. It’s almost ambient in feeling but interesting at the same time. Hope you’re laid back and languid after this one!

Blue Monday by New Order is the ultimate Brit Synth Pop. It’s also apparently one of the few songs to make it high into the charts without having a verse/chorus structure. This achieves the zenith of moody and melancholy. They did a poll a few years ago where British university students had to pick the greatest song ever recorded and they chose this one. I can kind of see why!

Another melancholy masterpiece is Mad World by Scottish duo Tears for Fears. I’ve got their greatest hits album and it’s a wonderful CD to have a bath to. By the way, that’s a great compliment! I’m not surprised that this beautiful, sad song had a second life as a hit when it was featured on the soundtrack for Donnie Darko in 2001.

And finally, something a bit jollier although there’s still a soulful, melancholy edge to Martin Fry’s wonderful vocals. The Look of Love by ABC featured on their mega hit album The Lexicon of Love – isn’t that a great title? I love the slightly sour comedy of this video and the way it’s very romantic underneath all the cool nonchalance.

OK, for now that’s it for my tour of the 80s. I hope you’ve enjoyed the results of my trawl through the sea lanes of my musical memory!