The 80s are back… But not in the way you may think. Remixers are giving modern pop music the revitalisation it needs, by taking it back a few decades.
Everyone loves a touch of the 80s… With its heavy synth lines, machine drums and symphonic choruses, these songs are a testament to the mainstream pop of the time, the political tensions of the era, and the rise of Thatcherism.
After watching cold war Thriller, Atomic Blonde (2017) starring Charlize Theron recently, I was re-introduced to the great songs of the 80s. The ones that don’t conform to the decade’s, ‘style-over-substance’ rule. Opening with New Order’s electronic masterpiece, ‘Blue Monday’, playing over an impressive action sequence, the fantastical, new sound of the digital 80s, contrasts spectacularly with the bloody violence, and conflicts of cold war Germany.
Later on, undercover agent Lorraine (Theron), dons some sassy garments, and a frosty shoulder as she struts to David Bowie’s ‘Cat People’. Then, we’re transferred to the dark recesses of a fetish club in Berlin, with Theron dressed in all black but illuminated by the red glow of the club. The black garments and red lighting, emphasising not only the danger to come, but the underlying erotic corruption that seems to leave a lasting chill down the spines of its spectators. This moment is accompanied by the bluesy chimes of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’.
Atomic Blonde didn’t just offer us the hits of the 80s… It offered us power dressing, slogan tees, and that slightly scruffy military look. Even a look at this film from a distance offers up oversized blazers, shoulder padding and bold colours, that make even the drabbest pant suit, a daring statement.
The film also sees Theron sport an oversized baggy t-shirt that hangs off the shoulder in a typical 80s manner, with the words, ‘Boy London’ adorned across the chest. This was a huge look in the 80s that used slogan tees to promote changes in fashion, society and feminism. And now this look has made a comeback. Political statements have become commonplace across a plethora of labels, on the catwalks and on the high street. A key example of this look are Dior’s ‘We should all be feminists’ tees, that reflect the current social climate towards women’s rights in film and music.
Theron’s own brutal, uncut seven-minute fight scene, although is a throwback to the 80s, in fact portrays the evolution of the female protagonist in major, Hollywood productions.
So, how does this relate to the pop music scene?
Well, it’s as simple as this: 80s remixes of pop music. Canadian producer Tronicbox, is the man behind the sound. A power ballad version of Justin Bieber’s, ‘What Do You Mean’, popped up on Soundcloud recently called, ‘What Do You Mean It’s 1985?’. But rather than coming across as ironic and old, it seems to invoke feelings, and give the song a new dimension.
And this isn’t the only song he’s remixed. He’s also produced remixes of Ariana Grande’s ‘Into You’, Gotye and Kimbra’s, ‘Somebody I used to know’ and ‘Closer’ by ‘The Marlboro Smokers’ a clever spin on The Chainsmokers.
Another artist known for his successful 80s remixes, is Japanese producer Initial Talk, who released an 80s Rules Remix of ‘New Rules’ by Dua Lipa, which has had over 3 million streams on Spotify. Initial Talk has said, ‘I feel like I’m living in the past when I’m making them. It’s great to see the fake memories, as time travel is one of my main concepts.’
As well as these songs sounding authentic, they have managed to attract a multitude of fake comments on YouTube, with people recalling their favourite moments from their 80s proms.
Maybe it’s a sign that singers these days put too much into their various other business ventures… Rihanna publicises herself with a vast array of lipsticks and trainers, taking to Instagram and Twitter to promote them.
There’s a possibility that listeners undeniably seek comfort in nostalgia, and yearn for an insight into an era free from social media, and online stardom.
What do you think about the return of the 80s?
Text: Millie Bull
Images: YouTube, Lily, JustWatch