The ‘80s just won’t die. For everyone who decries the Me Decade as tacky and embarrassing, a veteran or a retro enthusiast is revisiting the fashion, trends, and particularly the tunes. From hair metal to new wave, dark college rock to day-glo pop, the 1980s produced some immortal musical titans.
Then, there are the ‘80s bands who don’t get the reunion tours, remastered editions, or shout-outs from today’s globe-conquering pop stars. Some made music that didn’t fit with the time; others went the other way, cutting records that got lost in the shuffle in the midst of a scene. Whether flaming out due to personal issues, being unfairly remembered only for a few unrepresentative hits, or simply being too weird to flourish, in the ever-changing music industry, some bands just fall by the wayside.
As inspiring as it is to see Axl Rose still rocking a huge stage and today’s icons popping back in time 40 years to steal ideas, there are so many smaller acts who’ve inspired and innovated in their own ways. Forget your Macs and Madonnas - these 10 bands are well worthy of career retrospectives and proper celebration.
10. The Waitresses
Unlike a lot of the bands on this list, The Waitresses are actually very well remembered. The only problem? It’s almost entirely for one song, and most who know it couldn’t tell you the band’s name. It’s important to note that “Christmas Wrapping” is a festive masterpiece, but there’s more to the delightfully strange art-poppers than that.
The band’s twin strengths are its seriously talented musicians and its total refusal to take itself seriously. In the first column is lynchpin Chris Butler, whose songwriting skills and choppy, timely guitar playing placed The Waitresses on the cutting edge of New York pop. Bassist Tracy Wormworth is also a sensation, her warm work a great counterpoint to the arch, ironic songs.
On that front, singer Patty Donahue's detached, lackadaisical vocals gave the band the majority of their personality. Few performers other than the late Donahue could have pulled off the bizarrely sexy “I Know What Boys Like” or oddball “It’s My Car”; she could turn it up when needed, too, on harder cuts like “Go On”.
While it’s fair to say their Christmas hit is probably the most inspired work they ever did, the band’s wider catalogue is worth exploring for fans of Talking Heads, Blondie, and the like. Music’s supposed to be fun, after all, and The Waitresses certainly serve that up.