Eighties music is a freak of nature. It will never be known as an influential time in music history. But regardless, people still love it. Bands like The Killers and Franz Ferdinand bathe in the aural delights of the eighties. But our love for eighties music seems to be based more on nostalgia than on its contribution to music.

Duran Duran knew how to make hits, but no one ever talks about them changing the course of rock and roll or pop history. The Police were great too, but their sound was more of an amalgam of influences rather than an influence itself.

If you allow your mind a quick recollection of rock music's truly influential acts, you'll notice a gaping, 10-year hole. The timeline goes something like this: The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, The Sex Pistols, Joy Division, Kraftwerk - then we hit fast-forward on our walkmans through a sea of synth pop and glam rock - until we arrive at Nirvana.

But there is one thing that the eighties will always be known for besides cheesy pop tunes: the saxophone solo. Few bands brave the sax solo these days, and that's a shame. Billy Ocean took it on in 1985. "Caribbean Queen" is at once a sign of all that is right and wrong about eighties music.

Here are ratings on a bunch of saxophone solos from the eighties. I don't necessarily agree with the ratings, but it's fun to reminisce...


SJinMass said…
Wow. Right on. You should do music reviews for the Heights or something. LOL

I agree with you though, once you get past the nostalgia and the quirkiness, are there real redeeming qualities that make this music worthwhile?
Anonymous said…
I think you're forgetting the huge impact two very influential 80s bands had (and continue to have) on rock music: U2 and R.E.M.

Then there's Sonic Youth and The Pixies, whose influence is, while understated, quite lasting.

One could also argue that Metallica and Guns 'N Roses were sort of 80s bands. At least their best output coincided with that decade. Perhaps Van Halen, too.
Dave, I'm not sure about U2. I see U2 as more of a standard by which other bands are judged, rather than an actual influencer. Radiohead in the 90s, on the other hand, are a broader influencer and trailblazer. I think you're right about REM to some extent, but I think their influence was largely a cultural thing: launching a whole generation of "college/alternative" rock, rather than a distinct shaping of sound and style. I love the Pixies. One of my favorite bands. They have influence, but on a much, much smaller scale compared to a Neil Young, a Kraftwerk or a Miles Davis. That said, I like the Pixies a lot more than the aforementioned acts. And they definitely deserve props. Metallica, also another true influencer. Good catch with that one.
SJinMass said…
You're both overlooking the impact of some 80's greats like Tiffany, Cyndi Lauper and Debbie Gibson. Without them, there'd be no Hannah Montana! Where would we be without Hannah Montana?
Thanks SJinMass. Finally we're talking about the true legends.

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