What lies behind the eternal fascination the millennial generation has with the 1980s?
Does the space-age sound of a synthesiser remind us of an expected future brimming with optimism, as opposed to the hellscape that we occupy now? Or is the opposite true? Does the dated sound of a synthesiser help us to revert back to a more innocent time, before we arrived at this hellscape? Escapism seems key to it all; this fascination is all rooted in nostalgia, but the pervasiveness of it is more potent because the need to escape is more intense than ever. Reagan and Thatcher were c*nts, but they at least tried to conceal the extent to which they were c*nts through the medium of "politics".
This millennial generation, perhaps seeking to make any sort of connection to a chaotic and fractured world, is obsessed with that which goes viral - and the following songs are infectious. Cynically infectious: these were songs were mostly designed to command the MTV airwaves, jostling for rotation with the most deafening, overblown hooks.
These songs are aural reminders of or echoes back to a more innocent time, powered also by the notion that, no longer suppressed by an aspiration towards the cool, we are "allowed" to like them now...
10. David Bowie - Magic Dance
David Bowie was a true genius.
Where most of his contemporaries struggled, to a cringe-worthy extent, to update their sound to the commercial excess of the 1980s, Bowie updated his with a charming acknowledgement of what had become of the cultural norm. He wasn't trying to maintain his cool because he knew it was a cyclical thing. Bowie instead opted for rampant, sleek commercialism, luxuriating in the mature sophistication of it.
He also recognised how absolutely daft everything had become, and applied not cynicism but his wicked sense of humour to the period.
"Goblins and beasties, is it? Ha. F*cking hell. Anyway, here's a banger."
Starting with a disorienting effect that transports the listener into a another world, Bowie welcomes us to that wacky bullsh*t world with a casual perfection of every '80s trope: elastic bass, dramatic synth, and an hysterical over-abundance of key changes. A goofy spooky dancefloor filler infused with Bowie's peerless pop sensibility, it is at times involuntarily romantic because the guy was such a sexual creature. He is talking about an actual baby, but that croon can't help but suggest otherwise.
A song Bowie likely cringed at a few short years later is something a generation cherishes to this day: a true genius.