The 1980s are known for many reasons within pop culture, from fashion to political protests, but mostly they are remembered for the iconic musical hits produced throughout this decade. With music being a constant cycle of something new, something old, something borrowed, and so on, it comes as no surprise that musicians have now turned to influences of the 80s for their 2020 hits. Whether you’re still recovering from the grooviness of Dua Lipa‘s Future Nostalgia, or playing The Weeknd‘s After Hours on repeat, here is a rundown of the artists giving us full-out 80s tunes, or merging influences of the decade with today’s musical scene to create something new!
If you can dancercise to it, it’s gotta be 80s music right? Well, Dua Lipa has given us just that in her latest album Future Nostalgia, which has received almost nothing but praise for its evident 80s influences. Lipa released a cheesy workout video for song ‘Physical’ from the album, which gives off some massive 80s nostalgia. She has also branded her merch in-line with this decade, offering fans a ‘Physical’ bodysuit, crew socks, sweatpants and headband, a ‘Break My Heart’ ringer tee, and even neon cassette tapes of the album. It’s clear that Dua Lipa holds the current crown when it comes to 80s nostalgia! However, La Roux‘s Supervision is certainly an all-out-80s album that’ll also get you groovin’. Full of synths, high-pitched harmonies, a regular kick drum and groovy guitar, there really aren’t any songs on this album that don’t fit the 80s musical movement. But to name a few favourites, ‘International Woman of Leisure’ begins very similarly to Jermaine Stewart’s ‘We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off’, and both ’21st Century’ and ‘Automatic Driver’ feel like instant transportations back to this iconic decade.
The Weeknd’s most recent hit ‘Blinding Lights’ has to be considered an ode to the 80s, which is possibly responsible for its continual chart success. Personally, The Weeknd has always given off an 80s-vibe to me, what with his stylish afro, colourful fashion sense, and soothing vocals, but ‘Blinding Lights’ has to be his most nostalgic piece that musically exudes the decade. Other hits ‘In Your Eyes’ and ‘Save Your Tears’, also from his latest album After Hours, feature the well-known drum kick of the 80s, along with a few synths and guitar jams that’ll make it impossible not to get your body moving. Lastly, Baxter Dury’s recent releases ‘Say Nothing’ and ‘Hello, I’m Sorry’ extremely similar to the music of 80s band Madness, the latter song even featuring a telephone ring to begin. Full of trumpets, drum kits, funky/unusual sounds, and a monotonous talking voice, both songs could quite easily be mistaken for genuine 80s hits.
Aside from the artists quite explicitly throwing it back to the 80s, there are others choosing to blend the iconic sounds of the 80s mentioned above, with more current musical trends. The first that springs to mind is Lady Gaga‘s latest single ‘Stupid Love’. Though upon first listen you may not instantly think of the 80s, elements such as the drum kicks, synths and harmonising could definitely blend into this decade. However, other elements sound a tad more current pop music, or even the continuous sound throughout that’s comparable to current club, DnB or house music. Similarly, Hayley Williams‘ ‘Over Yet’ harbours some rock comforts from her Paramore days, and a little bit of modern pop, but the chorus is very 80s. Williams also created a fun workout/dance routine to the song, which proves (as mentioned above about dancercise) that ‘Over Yet’ is somewhat of an 80s throwback hit.
Even Australian boy band 5SOS have jumped on the trend of 80s nostalgia, evident in their song ‘Wildflower’. Though the song begins in their common pop boy band sound, easily confusable with One Direction, the chorus is extremely 80s. Transcending from generic 2020 boyband track, synths, audibly deep talking, and the classic drum kit transport listeners into an 80s zone, only to return to 2020 pop trash as it moves back into the verse. This shows that a very diverse range of artists are replicating, or at least merging elements of 80s music into their 2020 hits.
One last example being Little Dragon, with their recent album New Me, Same Us. This comparison may be seen as a far stretch, as Little Dragon’s album doesn’t give off 80s vibes in the ways the other named artists have at all. However, New Me, Same Us incorporates the vocals and experimentalism of Prince, with the modern lo-fi, psychedelic chilled sounds of artists such as Frank Ocean and Thundercat. Little Dragon mix 80s vocals of Prince, with the 90s rave movement, and fits in with the current surge in psychedelic funk/experimentalism, showing a new avenue for music whilst giving off some nostalgia.
80s nostalgia is certainly inspiring some retro throwbacks, groovy tunes, and new directions for the music industry of 2020, and it’s very exciting to see what could come next from these influences. Whether you’re wanting to feel transported into the sounds of a culturally iconic decade, or are looking to explore the future of how these nostalgic sounds are shaping current musical trends, these are definitely some of the songs and artists to follow.