Anna Campbell

July 2012


80s Hair Bands Galore (part 1)

MFTjuly12-1   MFTjuly12-4I’ve been digging through YouTube again. And as a result, I’ve time traveled back to the 1980s.

I had a huge soft spot for 80s synthesizer hair bands. You know the ones I mean – serious, melancholy voiced (generally British) boys of long and skinny style singing about the meaning of life and love. I hope you have as much fun with these videos as I had finding them. In fact, I had so much fun, there’s a second part to come next month of this survey of depressing but somehow compelling 1980s pop.

MFTjuly12-5MFTjuly12-2There’s a definite British bias to these selections. Partly because I think the English do misery pop better than anyone else and partly because I spent a couple of years of the 80s living in England which means I was mainly hearing the local stuff.

Let’s start with an all-time classic. How can you look beyond Tainted Love by Soft Cell? The ultimate one-hit wonder! It’s still infectious (good or bad?) after all these years.

I loved the Cure’s music. I could have picked half a dozen wonderful songs including the immortal Love Cats to exemplify their work. But I’ve always really loved In Between Days, so here goes:


Another band I really liked although they weren’t terrifically big in Australia was Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark (OMD). I have a greatest hits album of theirs that appeared at many a party. I love this song about Joan of Arc, Maid of Orleans. I think the synthesizer riff is really beautiful and quite haunting.

MFTjuly12-7I had the Human League’s first album, Dare, and played it to death, to the extent where I drove a flatmate away! Yes, it was tragic the hold the 80s hair bands had on me in their time. The big hit was Don’t You Want Me but I’ve always preferred this song (Keep Feeling) Fascination was the first single I heard from them. Seriously hair band-tastic!

MFTjuly12-3A song I’ve always loved although it’s definitely another one-hit wonder was the 1981 single Fade To Grey by Visage. I think it’s still a really interesting video and the song has that sad, melancholy, fin de siècle feeling that so many of these 80s New Waves songs had.

Speaking of moody and European, who can go past Ultravox’s mega-opus Vienna? I used to love watching this and waiting for the flurry of piano notes as the girl runs down the stairs. You’ll probably have noticed there’s a brooding, romantic quality to all the videos too. They just don’t make videos like that anymore. Sigh.

MFTjuly12-6And just to finish on an upbeat note, who can resist the riff in Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode? It’s a song that always makes me smile.

More 80s self-indulgence to come next month! Now, where did I put my hairspray? Oh, there it is, hiding under my shoulder pads!