Was the 1980s the best decade in music? New BBC series examines
To air on BBC Two in October, multi-award-winning journalist and author Dylan Jones celebrates the dominant influence of ’80s music, with the aim of inspiring a new respect for this maligned musical era.
He will argue that the ’80s were one of the most inventive periods in pop culture – a kaleidoscopic display of musical experimentation in which genres were born and evolved with breakneck speed – and that if music continues to fascinate to on this day it will never be as varied as it was then.
The program features contributions from Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, Jazzie B, Trevor Horn, Sara Dallin & Keren Woodward of Bananarama, Gary Kemp, Mark Moore, Cookie Pryce and Suzie Q of Cookie Crew, Bobby Gillespie, Ali Campbell & Astro of UB40 , The Fall’s Brix Smith, Sarah Jane Morris and more.
Lorna Clarke, BBC Controller, Pop, says: “I am delighted that we are going to dissect the impact and influence of the 1980s, culturally – a period of experimentation which is very divisive.
Dylan Jones says, “Endless TV shows still suggest that the whole episode was just a calamitous mistake, a cultural cul-de-sac full of rotten records by shameful individuals with orange skin and sneakers. I’m here to tell you that it couldn’t be more wrong.
In the first episode, against a colorful backdrop of archives from the coffers of the BBC and beyond, Dylan makes his claim: that the ’80s were the most creative musical decade of all time. He will claim that the 80s, unlike other decades, were indefinable by monolithic musical movements such as punk, disco or Britpop, and unleashed a myriad of new musical genres in just 10 years. To support his theory, he will hear from some of the greatest musicians and producers of the time, who were at the forefront of incredibly diverse musical creation.
Speaking in the program, Nile Rodgers says, “The 80s were the heyday for many of us musicians from the 60s and 70s. When you reached this place you had this great explosion of art in the 80s that ran through the range. “
Keren Woodward of Bananarama says, “You would hear something and you were like, oh this is Bananarama, this is Culture Club, this is Duran Duran – and everyone was watching in their own way too. “
Episodes two, three and four will feature a mix of archival performances and music videos, handpicked by Dylan, which explore themes such as Generation MTV (artists who enjoyed a “blockbuster”); the birth of hip hop, the emergence of house and the rise of the rebels, who deliberately avoided everything they pointedly believed to be from the ’80s.
Some of the artists explored in the series include Madonna, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, The Sugarhill Gang, Public Enemy, Bronski Beat, and Erasure.