So, after months of working it out in front of live audiences, the Danish-Norwegian dance collective Aqua has finally released “Back To The ’80s,” in which they not only nostalgize the decade, they try to revise history and insert their decidedly ’90s hit “Barbie Girl” into it. One might think that this is merely a case of Aqua thinking that the last decade wasn’t good in a monolithic-touchstone sort of way, but they’re actually entering into a long tradition of artists who have paid nostalgic tribute to the constantly misunderstood decade via the power of song. After the jump, a few other tracks that tried to get a handle on the most-nostalgized decade since the ’50s. (Or maybe the ’60s?)
Bob Mintzer Big Band, “In The Eighties”
Perhaps because it was recorded smack in the middle of the decade, this extended jam session sounds like interstitial music from every overly scored movie that came out between 1984 and 1989. (Surely I’m not the only person who wishes that some enterprising audio editor out there would re-edit Midnight Run in an effort to remove the forced jauntiness imposed upon it by its music? It’s such a good movie, but the music often near-ruins it for me.)
Calvin Harris, “Acceptable In The ’80s”
Sure, the song is shallower than a Strawberry Shortcake wading pool, and the “it” that was supposedly acceptable during the course of that decade is never mentioned (cocaine? hair gel? admitting the literary talent of Jay McInerney?), but the bonging synths that are all over this 2007 track are supposed to make you forget those sorts of trifling ideas. And they kinda work!
Camera Obscura, “Eighties Fans”
This 2004 song by these blushing Glaswegians is named after a tossed-off lyric that’s supposed to represent the protagonist’s / her love interest’s lack of connection with people who claim that they are fans of entire 10-year stretches. Somehow it came out before the Calvin Harris track!
Denim, “I’m Against The Eighties”
An extended “out with the old, in with the new” jam, although it’s curious to me that Denim’s main man Lawrence would want to pitch the beautifully gurgling baby that was Felt out with the decade’s bathwater.
Kris Kristofferson, “Shipwrecked In The ’80s”
The hard-luck lyrics here are a contrast to most songs paying homage to the decade, but let’s remember that Farm Aid was launched in 1985.
Killing Joke, “Eighties”
The original, and still pretty solid, even if its legacy took a big hit when it was used by the wrongheaded-in-every-way That ’80s Show.
Aqua – Back To The ’80s [YouTube via ONTD]
Official Calvin Harris “Acceptable in the ’80s” [Dailymotion]
Eighties – Killing Joke [Dailymotion]
Denim – I’m Against The Eighties [YouTube]
Camera Obscura – Eighties Fans [YouTube]
Bob Mintzer Big Band, “In The Eighties” [YouTube]
Kris Kristofferson, “Shipwrecked In The ’80s” [YouTube]