the 80s were a time of smooth sophistication – or at least, that was the aspiration. it wasn’t supposed to look as effortless as the impossibly slick culture we have today where even boho takes hours to perfect. in the 80s, looking as if you had spent time and money on your style was a badge of honour.
everything was designed to flatter this image and music was no exception – the music was polished and the vocals didin’t interrupt the flow. male pop/soul vocalists were often soft and understated, with an overtone of smugness. which is why i’ve chosen a picture of steff, james spader’s character in pretty in pink. the baddie you hate to love.
all of these bands feature cooing vocals, so much of a rarity these days that anything remotely understated evokes the 80s. it wasn’t particularly manly but the new romantics pretty much put paid to any notions that the 80s would be a macho decade.
breathe – how can i fall
not breathe’s biggest hit, but since they only had one other…close.
howard jones – like to get to know you well
classic synth pop soul which few did better than howard. good use of a mullet too. howard’s sound was slicker than his look. he looked like a tramp with a vidal sassoon haircut and bleach job.
stephen tin tin duffy – icing on the cake
original member of duran duran and has had more success in production than with his own music.
climie fisher – love changes everything
sweet late 80s boy pop that can still be found on heart fm to this day. they had one other notable song, ‘rise to the occasion’.
curiosity killed the cat – down to earth
smash hits favourite ben volauvent parrot and co were minor challengers to bros and wet wet wet in the late 80s. i used to fancy migi.
wet wet wet – sweet little mystery
cheeky scot marti pellow looked so much better with the caught-in-a-dodgem spiky haircut than his later curtain style look when they caught their financial break with ‘love is all around’.
scritti politti – absolute
i love the sound of green’s voice, its like candyfloss. all of scritti politti’s music sounds the same across albums spanning the entire decade. i like that in a group.
johnny hates jazz – i don’t want to be a hero
oddly sincere sounding group taking into account the jazz were rich pretty boys. proving rich boys don’t need to go indie to compensate for their roots. all of jhj’s music has that late 80s wine bar sound on lock.
omd – if you leave
i don’t care for much of omd’s music but of all the 80s teen movies, this was the most fitting soundtrack to the obligatory high school dance scene. i think we all wanted andie to get with duckie, but its not so bad for him as he’s ended up in two and a half men with charlie sheen…
brother beyond – how many times
god nathan moore really wasn’t any better a singer than he is an agent. and don’t get me wrong, i loved bb way more than bros. no wonder lisa scott-lee’s career haas gone down the pan…oh wait, no, that’s because she’s shit.
blow monkeys – it doesn’t have to be this way
i’m sure i heard carol mcgiffin say that she slept with monkeys frontman dr robert. maybe if you were a bit older – and i mean of an age when you should be fancying people, not 11 like i was – then he was the 80s version of russell brand. who i don’t get either.
hipsway – the honeythief
don’t know much about this group but they typified the smooth sound of the time.