The MTV Music Television Generation
From the first lyrics of “Video Killed the Radio Star”, the advent of 80s music videos on MTV radically changed the music industry forever. Early eighties groups such as DEVO and Haircut 100 were early adopters of the medium, but pop stars such as Madonna and Michael Jackson later transformed the format into a huge business.
The familiar 80’s pop sound is characterized by sparse lyrics and the new technologies of the decade. Synthesizers, electronic keyboards and drum machines formed the “New Wave” pop sound that was popular in the music of the early 80’s. Songs like DEVO’s “Whip It’ and “Cars” by Gary Numan showcase this electronic sound.
80’s Heavy Metal Music
In the mid to late 80’s Heavy Metal became the popular music genre. Artists such as Van Halen, Poison, Motley Crue, Cinderella, Quiet Riot and Guns and Roses got extensive 1980’s radio airplay. “Hair Metal Bands”, as they are affectionately called, scored top charting hits with the “power ballad” song formula. Nothing represents the decadence of the 80s more than the heavy metal bands signed from the LA Strip during that time. The song lyrics mostly embodied the “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll” mentality of the 80’s.
80’s Heavy Metal lyrics became controversial on Capitol Hill as legislators and parent groups fought to post warning labels on records deemed to contain offensive lyrical content. 80’s metal artists like Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne were hauled into court to defend allegations that their song lyrics drove several teens to commit suicide.
Thrash Metal becomes a hit in the underground scene in the 80’s. Originating in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, 80’s bands such as Metallica, Megadeath, Anthrax and Slayer become popular heavy alternatives to the pop “Hair” metal acts of the decade. Darker lyrics and themes were covered in this genre of metal.
Hip Hop and House Roots In 80s Music
The Hip Hop scene has it’s roots in the 1980’s and becomes a powerful musical and dance influence. Hip hop artists like Grandmaster Flash Kurtis Blow and N.W.A. bring Hip Hop to the forefront.
The post-disco influenced House music was a new development in dance music in the mid 80’s. House music later developed into the heavier Acid House in the later part of the 80s decade.
80’s Hardcore Punk Movement
Out of opposition to the pop 80s music evolved the Hardcore Punk movement. This angry, politically charged genre included more social awareness in it’s lyrics. The Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and Reagan Youth are popular bands of the 80s Hardcore Punk scene. Indie Rock is also born in the 80’s. Bands like The Smiths, Pixies and Sonic Youth invented this new genre.