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The History of Rock and Roll: The 80s

A brief history of some of the major movements and social events that shaped rock music in the 1980s.
by

Andrew Anthony

on 3 September 2013

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Transcript of The History of Rock and Roll: The 80s

The 1980s The History of Rock and Roll Punk's Poppy Little Brother New Wave Music of the Working Class Heartland Rock The popularity of Van Halen in the late 1970s led to an explosion of long-haired, loud metal bands coming out of Los Angeles' Sunset Strip throughout the 1980s. These bands mixed the speedy guitar shredding style of Eddie Van Halen with the outrageous clothing and makeup of the 70s glam bands to create what would be known as glam or pop metal. Most glam metal bands sang about partying, sex, drugs, and alcohol. Some of the biggest glam metal bands of the 80s included Poison, Motley Crue, and Ratt.
Meanwhile, bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer mixed NWOBHM with hardcore punk to create thrash metal, a hyper-fast chugging musical style, whose lyrics dealt with anger, social issues, and death.
Thrash led to the creation of even more extreme types of metal, such as death metal, black metal, and power metal. Bang your head Although 70s punk was an important and influential movement in rock history, it wasn't very commercially successful. In the early 80s, bands like Blondie, the Talking Heads, and Devo broke off from the punk movement in the US that took a more artsy or commercial approach. These bands also integrated keyboards into the music to give their sound a more modern feel. MTV was also beginning at the same time as the New Wave bands, and their videos got lots of airtime on the young station.

New Wave was more popular in the UK, with bands such as Duran Duran, A Flock of Seagulls, and Culture Club hitting the top of the charts.

Although New Wave only lasted a few years, it helped to set the stage for synthpop--a style of music in which only synthesizers and keyboards were played, in place of guitars, bass, or drums. Synthpop would go on to be one of the more dominant musical styles of the 80s. Following in the path of the roots rockers of the 70s, artists like John Cougar Mellencamp, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen began making music that went beyond just entertainment. Heartland rock musicians wrote songs that focused on the lives and struggles of the American working class.
The music itself was straightforward rock-and-roll, avoiding the trend of keyboards. Most heartland bands played guitar, bass, and drums, with occasional horns sections, such as saxophone or trumpets. The Evolution of 80s Metal The Video Revolution MTV On August 1, 1981, MTV went on the air for the first time. Originally created as a way for record companies to promote new music, videos shown on MTV quickly became an industry standard and practically a requirement for bands to make their music known.
At the beginning of MTV's history, black artists were rarely shown because the network's material was mostly rock. All of this changed with Michael Jackson's Thriller album in 1983. Even though it was very popular, MTV producers refused to show his videos. So, the president of CBS records threatened not to allow any of his artists to appear on MTV. Facing the loss of CBS artists' videos, MTV caved in and began showing Jackson's videos. Aid for Africa The US and the UK Unite In 1984, the world became aware of the extreme drought and famine in the African country of Ethiopia in which over 400,000 starved to death. In England, musician Bob Geldof wanted to raise money to send food and other needed items to help the Ethiopians. So, he connected with several of the UK's top musicians to record the hit "Do They Know It's Christmas". The money earned from record sales was given for relief aid for Ethiopians.
Following the UK's example, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote the song "We Are The World", and donated record sales to African relief efforts as well. Canadian musicians also recorded "Tears Are Not Enough", and even metal musicians recorded "Stars", all to donate to African relief assistance. Next Week: The 90s Alternative goes mainstream Urban Art The Rise of Hip Hop Although rap music, or hip hop, first began in the streets of New York in the 70s, it didn't really enter the mainstream until Run DMC hooked up with Aerosmith to re-record a rap version of "Walk This Way" in 1985.
After this song blew up on MTV, it began a virtual flood of rap and hip hop videos that paved the way for the "golden era" of hip hop in the late 80s and early 90s.
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