The ‘80s saw the rise of electropop, the birth of MTV and the reign of Madonna and Michael Jackson. Techno-pop shook the entire landscape of the music industry. The foundations of funk, folk, boogie and jazz songs of the ‘70s were tipped by a new wave in synth-pop, defining film soundtracks and television theme tunes. Catchy, synthy and poppy sounds set the tone and became a prelude for ‘90s masterpieces, such as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the Rugrats. For the first time, music met with television and MTV was transformed into a household name, at the stroke of midnight, August 1st 1981. In an epochal moment, John Lack gave birth to an MTV Nation when he uttered the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” over a clip of the launch countdown of the Columbia Space Shuttle. The music channel became an instant hit, with a generation of disgruntled teens in search of an outlet, by prophetically debuting The Buggles’ smash single, ‘Video Killed the Radio Star.’
Film and television did not hesitate to capitalise on the remunerative potential of star power. American singer, Cindy Lauper, the “voice of the MTV Generation of the ‘80s,” lent her vocals to the 1985 cult classic, The Goonies. Aptly named “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough,” the single skyrocketed to the number one position on the charts and went platinum in the U.S.A., selling $2,000,000-worth of singles. Silver screen success was quick to ensue and the film racked in $61.4 million at the box-office. These songs have become essential facets of the films and sitcoms themselves, capturing an element of the electro-eighties. Much more, they broke down hard-held social norms – The Fonz, of Happy Days fame, was the first rebellious Greaser to actively promote non-smoking and Bill Murray was the first man to take liberties with Julius Caesar’s words, classically stating: “We came. We saw. We kicked its ass.” For all that the ‘80s were – the abundance of hairspray, the diamante-encrusted scrunchies and the fluorescent leg-warmers – we have to say, you’re tacky, but we love you.
Catch one of our ‘80s favourites in Happy Days, showing on True Entertainment (Sky 184, Virgin 189, Freeview 61, Freesat 142) from Monday 16th November onwards, at 10am and 5pm.
1. Ghostbusters (1984) ‘Ghostbusters’
Ghostbusters does not attempt to shy away from its ridiculous plotline – which follows a group of parapsychologists (a science wholly concerned with paranormal activity), who leave university with their reputations in disarray, after their theories on the supernatural were called into question. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis are in no way disheartened, by what others would consider a major career set-back. Instead, they form a paranormal-pest-control business, to exterminate the supernatural problem that is rapidly spreading throughout New York City. The special effects, which fall well below the Spielberg stamp of approval, are paramount to the film’s comic value. Giant green-slime monsters, with a weakness for hotdogs and a Godzilla-sized Michelin Man (Stay Puft Marshmallow Man) terrorise the streets of Manhattan. The citizens of New York need not fear, because ‘if there’s somethin’ strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!’
2. Inspector Gadget (1983-86) ‘Inspector Gadget’
The irresistibly lovable, clumsy and, at times dim-witted, cyborg detective Inspector Gadget, is a bionic man, who fights crime with his endless artillery of gadgets, which he can summon into action by simply stating “Go-Go Gadget.” Inspector Gadget, much like The Pink Panther’s Inspector Clouseau, is full of good intentions, but unfortunately has all the gear and little-to-no idea. Gadget’s success is a result of the combined efforts of his young, tech-savvy niece, Penny, and his intelligent bipedal canine companion, Brain. The episodes begin as they end, with the show’s universally recognised theme tune. The melodic song is classic by nature, inspired by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King,’ which has also featured in a prominent array of commercials, television and films, ranging from The Social Network (2010), all the way up to the Alton Towers theme tune. Inspector Gadget may have only been on air for four short years, but his signature tune has truly stood the test of time and will be around for many a generation to come.
3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) ‘Twist and Shout’
The Matthew Broderick we know now, as the awkwardly geeky Dad from Two and a Half Men (joke), is not the Matthew Broderick we knew then, as the charismatically charming Ferris Bueller, who fearlessly jumps on a moving float, in an iconic scene where he lip-syncs The Beatles’ 1961 single, ‘Twist and Shout.’ The smooth-talking Bueller persuades both his best friend Cameron Frye and girlfriend Sloane Peterson to bunk (the day) off school and experience the ‘Windy City,’ Chicago, in full swing on a working day. Unfortunately, Ferris’ reputation for such antics precedes him and his Headteacher is hell-bent on exposing him. The jovial Ferris may not be able to pull the wool over the eyes of the relentless Mr. Rooney, but his seamless cover of a song that has been performed by the likes of John Lennon and The Who’s Roger Daltrey, has earned Bueller a spot on our Top 10 momentous music moments, from the ‘80s.
4. The Breakfast Club (1985) ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’
You cannot talk about the 1980s, without mentioning teen icon Molly Ringwald. Ringwald rose to infamy for her role as the prissy-princess Claire Standish, who up until the point we meet her, sitting in detention, had sat comfortably at the zenith of the popularity pyramid. Both in the film and in real life, every girl wanted to be her and every boy wanted to be with her. The Breakfast Club circles around five high schoolers, from five different social tribes, who are forced to spend their Saturday together in confinement, only for each to realise that they do not exist worlds apart. Shermer High School has every stereotypical quality we would associate with American school cliques – the preppy-popular kids, jocks, bad-boys, nerds and outcasts. So, when Claire Standish encounters the long-haired, greaser John Bender, it is quite a shock to the system, when she finds herself falling for a delinquent. The rest is cinematic history, five in the brat-pack, two romances and one fist-pump – Class of 1985, we most certainly will not ‘forget about you.’
5. The A-Team (1983-87) ‘The A-Team’
Although the A-Team only ran for four short years and five seasons, the legend lived on, thanks to heavy television syndication, prompting a 2010 revival by 20th Century Fox. The memorable and eclectic cast was integral to the show’s commercial success and cult following, with merchandise ranging from lunch boxes and figurines, to even cola-flavoured, Mr. T-shaped popsicles (which are sadly no longer in production). The pressure was on for NBC’s Entertainment president, Brandon Tartikoff to deliver a hit show, after his predecessor was let go, for that exact shortcoming. Fortunately for him, The A-team immediately took off, reaching 26.4% of TV audiences on its first viewing and we have to agree with John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, “I love it when the plan comes together.” Mike Post’s catchy, militaristic theme tune has proven that there really is no ‘I’ in team and has earned the sitcom a well-deserved number 5 spot on our eighties tunes.
6. Chariots of Fire (1981) ‘Chariots of Fire’
The mere mention of the 1981 film title, Chariots of Fire, instantly evokes the image of athletes running across the West Sands of St. Andrews, to the Academy Award®-winning original soundtrack, written by Greek composer Vangelis. Although the film is a period piece, rooted in the 1920s, director Hugh Hudson intentionally selected the modern electronic track that is characteristic of the ‘80s, with its deep, reverberating sounds, to effectively intensify the slow-motion photo finishes. However, Hudson failed to warn viewers that the effortless first sprint across the Scottish beach, is in fact a cool two-mile stretch across a resistant terrain, and although Vangelis is soft on the ears, it is not guaranteed that you’ll run as effortlessly as a professional athlete.
7. Happy Days (1974-84) ‘Happy Days’
Happy Days came to fruition with the intention of being the all-American family sitcom, following the wholesome, freckle-faced and red-haired teen Richie Cunningham, in an idealised vision of 1950s/1960s life in the United States. Unfortunately for Richie, after the unanticipated success of the bad-boy biker character, Arthur “Fonzie”/”The Fonz” Fonzarelli, executives chose to go with the audience’s favourite. The shift in plot and cast structure was also felt in the show’s peppy and borderline-jingle theme tune, which was re-recorded three times, whilst the show was on air. Happy Days is the programme that just kept on giving – bringing us our first television appearance of Robin Williams and sparking eight different spin-offs – Laverne and Shirley, Mork and Mindy and Joanie Loves Chachi, to mention a few. Audiences have yet to grow sick of the Fonz and crew, so it comes as a relief to hear that Sony Pictures Television has started re-running the show on True Entertainment.
8. Say Anything (1989) ‘In Your Eyes’
The old saying, ‘first loves die hard,’ has been re-defined by the onscreen romance between Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court. Dobler, in every sense of the word is average, but his courtship with the over-achiever, soon-to-be valedictorian Diane, has set the bar high for every hopeful adolescent looking to win the affection of their high school crush. So pay close attention, here is a list of the Dobler’s Do’s, to hook, line and sinker, a Diane – first, one 1976 Chevy Malibu, secondly one giant boombox (Warning: this must be held at arm’s length, above your head), finally, Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’ and badda-bing, badda-boom, you’ve got yourself a catch.
9. Footloose (1984) ‘Footloose’
Kevin Bacon came to fame with his role as Ren McCormack in the box-office smash hit Footloose. Bacon plays a Chicago city-boy who has moved to the small mid-West town of Bomont, to live with his aunt and uncle. We soon learn that there is much more to this rural town than what initially meets the eye, as strict laws have been laid down, prohibiting dancing and rock music. Bacon, looking to make the best of a bad situation, sets his sights on preacher’s daughter, Ariel. Together the two, quite literally, move for change by jiving to the now classic ‘Footloose,’ the song that climbed to the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks. Fortunately for the pair, the town just so happened to contain the 1% of the US population who have a natural rhythm and are born dancers.
10. Full House (1987-1995) ‘Through the years (Everywhere You Look)’
Full House had all the makings of sitcom greatness – stellar cast, strong script, and John Stamos. The show is unwaveringly optimistic. Widowed father of three Danny Tanner, played by Bob Sagat, recruits his comedian best friend Joey Gladstone and brother-in-law, exterminator-turned-musician Jesse Katsopolis, to raise his three daughters after the loss of his wife. Every child of the ‘90s re-runs grew up alongside the adorable Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen who kick-started their careers as Michelle Tanner, at the ripe ol’ age of 6 months. As a self-confessed Full House fan, I can speak from experience, to say that the opening credits scene is worth watching, purely to witness the character’s transformation over the years, from infancy into adolescence, to the upbeat Jesse Frederick’s ‘Everywhere You Look.’