Even traditional rock bands were known to incorporate keyboards into their music, live performances, and music videos.
New wave bands, however, were totally tied to the synthesizer without exception. This sound was present in the majority of 80s songs. Soft Cell’s hit popsynth ditty, “Tainted Love,” completely embraced the new wave synth sounds that were raging across the culture.
The electronic sound of the synthesizer combined with the driving BIM-BIM, whip-cracking beat and love-takes-no-prisoners lyrics made “Tainted Love” an enormous success, perhaps the greatest one-hit wonder of the 80s – and the 80s were, like, totally packed with awesome one-hit wonders.
Composed by Ed Cobb and originally recorded by Gloria Jones in 1964, “Tainted Love” found worldwide appeal when Soft Cell recorded it in 1981. Since then, it has been covered and sampled by countless groups and artists, including a Marilyn Manson version and a sample in Rhianna’s 2006 song “SOS.”
However, the song remains a testament to 80s music. It soared to the top of the UK charts and was soon released in the U.S., where, although it took 19 weeks to hit the top 40, it spent 43 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
The B-side of the single was another cover song, the Supremes’ Motown classic “Where Did Our Love Go?” There was also a popular remix of “Tainted Love,” which included a brief interlude of the B-side. Remixes were standard fare for 80s songs, and longer versions of new wave songs were totally popular in clubs.
80s Music Video: Tainted Love
There were several music videos created for “Tainted Love.” One featured Soft Cell’s Marc Almond and David Ball in an ancient Greek setting. Another shows Ball haunted by starry apparitions interspersed with images of Almond singing against a night-sky backdrop.
Check it out:
The song’s videos were not among the most memorable or heavily featured 80s songs on MTV. However, radio stations played the heck out of it, cementing it firmly among the pillars of 80s music.
80s Songs and One-Hit Wonders
Soft Cell was just one of many bands who lucked out when their 80s songs became worldwide phenomena. One-hit wonders were standard for 80s music, and while most musicians prefer a long, steady career, these fly-by hits catapulted songs like “Tainted Love” to fame and earned songwriters, producers, and performers a pretty penny.
Tainted Love remains one of the most important 80s songs. It helped define 80s music and its popularity continues through cover versions and sampling.
They were a totally cute 80s fashion, but they made your feet sweaty and smelly. The plastic broke easily, and that meant you were always begging your mom to take you to the store to get a new pair. Yeah, they came in lots of colors and a few different styles. But out of all the trendy 80s shoes, we hated wearing jelly shoes the most — even if we did go through a gazillion pairs of them.
Stinky Plastic 80s Fashion
Why would anyone want to stick their bare feet into plastic shoes? Okay, so some people may have worn them with socks, which was, like, fashionably questionable (at best), but what did we think was so stylish about stinky feet? And believe me, no 80s fashion smelled worse (except maybe Aqua Net hairspray). I remember sitting around the house, wondering what’s that foul odor? — only to discover it was coming from my own jelly shoes! It was totally disgusting!
But 80s Shoes Had to Be Cute
But they were soooo cute! And when it comes to fashion, it’s all about aesthetics. They make your feet smell? So what? They look awesome! Women have been wearing uncomfortable shoes for decades… centuries even, and 80s shoes were no different.
All of my jelly shoes were made mostly out of soft plastic, but the back piece was hard and it used to give me blisters — blisters that hurt! The plastic along the sides of the shoes was always breaking. Did I mention they were cheap? You could get a pair for under five dollars, which was a good thing since I always had to replace mine.
But on the playground, jelly shoes totally ruled. I remember all too well how much all the girls thought jelly shoes were the greatest 80s fashion ever. We flaunted them, and for about a season, we gave them top honor among all our other 80s shoes. But alas, the love we had for our jelly shoes did not last (thank goodness).
Rest in Peace, Jelly Shoes
I’m sure all my old jelly shoes are in a landfill somewhere, stubbornly NOT decomposing. This is one 80s fashion that I’m glad has been laid to rest and one pair of 80s shoes that I hope never comes back into style.
Good riddance jelly shoes!
80s hair had to be grandiose. Heck, what wasn’t big in the 80s? We doused our locks with Aqua-Net until our hair was thick and sticky. But at least our hairstyle was securely fixed. No wind could knock down that 80s hair!
But we didn’t always have time to tease our hair. Some styles took hours to master and involved wrangling with styling mousse, gel, a hairdryer, a curling iron, a crimping iron, and that unwieldy can of Aqua-Net.
When you had to run out the door, a ponytail was your only option. But it was the 80s, so if you couldn’t find your banana clip, you probably went with a side ponytail.
Quirky 80s Fashion
In the 80s, we just had to be different. We had to be bold. Everything was an overstatement. Our 80s fashion was no exception and neither was our 80s hair.
Hairstyles come and go, and in the 80s, styles came and went pretty quickly. The most popular 80s fashion, the one you totally HAD to have, was one you wouldn’t be caught dead in six months later.
It was like – one day you had to have pair of jelly shoes to be cool. Anyone who was anyone had a pair (or twenty pairs) of jelly shoes. But just a few months later, anyone caught wearing a pair of jelly shoes would be ostracised. Lame, I know, but all 80s fashion was like that, especially 80s hair.
80s hair styles went in and out. You changed your hair about as often as you changed your underwear, so like, every day basically.
One day it was feathered, the next day it was teased up to the sky. A week later, you slicked it back, and a month after that you pulled it up into a ponytail.
If it was the 80s, maybe you secured your ponytail with a scrunchy or a banana clip. More likely, you swept it up into a side ponytail.
The Side Ponytail
Ponytails have always been popular. They’re fast and easy. They get annoying strands of hair out of your face and neatly pulled back where they’re, like, out of your way.
Anyone with hair past the chin can appreciate a simple ponytial. But you had to be a child of the 80s to appreciate the side ponytail.
80s hair came in many different styles and colors. The side ponytail could be teased up into a puff of curls, or it could hang loose. You could secure it with an old-fashioned rubber band, a scrunchy, or even a banana clip (more on those later).
It was all a part of 80s fashion – the shoes, the clothes, the accessories, and the hair. The side ponytail was a fast fix that kept your style current (trendy) and marked you as an 80s fashion pro.
80s hair and 80s fashion went through many fads and phases throughout the decade. The side ponytail was just one popular hairstyle. But there were many others. And we’ll totally be talking about those in future articles.
As a kid growing up in the 80s, I wore my leg warmers out.
Leg warmers could be found just about anywhere. They were wearing them on TV, in the movies, and even in schoolyards. As far as 80s accessories go, leg warmers were about as rad as it got.
You Wanted Leg Warmers
You wanted as many pairs of leg warmers as possible. If you were lucky, you had a pair for every outfit. Or at least each pair of shoes. They rounded out your big awesome collection of essential 80s accessories because they went with just about everything.
You could wear them to school, to a friend’s house, out on the town. And of course, you could totally wear them to aerobics class. Oh yes, aerobics were big in the 80s. Everyone was trying to be a Solid Gold dancer and you couldn’t do that without a solid collection of leg warmers and some wicked awesome dance moves.
The funny thing was that leg warmers weren’t that easy to find, even though they were like the most popular of all 80s accessories. You totally had to search if you wanted to build up a tubular collection of leg warmers. Sure, you could get them at dance wear shops, but those ones were usually plain and boring. You could find wilder patterns and colors of leg warmers at departments stores. And that was, like, way before the internet. So you for sure couldn’t buy them online.
80s Fashion and the Decade of Dance
If there was one running theme in 80s fashion, it was BIG. Everything was oversized and bold. If there was a second theme, it was dance. The 80s sparked a whole new dance craze that leaked into 80s fashion, and the 80s accessories were no exception.
We used to wear leotards, like, every day. Yes, you pulled your jeans on right over your leotards and then pulled your leg warmers on over your jeans. Other 80s accessories inspired by dance wear were the off-the-shoulder cutoff sweatshirt and the sweatbands that we wore as stylish headbands, ala Olivia Newton John’s song and music video, “Physical.”
But when it came to the marriage of dance and fashion, not one of the 80s accessories could beat out leg warmers.
80s Accessories and Leg Warmers Layered
Most 80s accessories that came from dance style were altered for everyday wear. You didn’t actually wear a sweatband on your head. No. You used a ribbon or a piece of scrap material. I used to cut up old t-shirts. Even the leotards you wore out and about weren’t the same ones you actually wore to aerobics.
But not leg warmers. You bought them and wore them just as they were. And you layered them too. You totally layered everything in the 80s.
We layered shirts, tights, pants, and socks. We would’ve layered shoes if we could’ve found a way to do it and lord knows, somebody probably did. Leg warmers were totally perfect for layering, especially with some bitchen neon socks and two different colored sneakers.
Love That 80s Fashion
We slid them on over our pants and under our skirts. Sometimes we tucked them into our socks. Other times, we rolled them down over our boots. Leg warmers were an 80s fashion necessity. And they make little comebacks every now and then. Which is a good thing. For sure.
Look around and you’ll occasionally see someone rocking leg warmers. Just go to any dance studio and you’ll find them. Lately, they’ve been popping up as a retro trend. You better go find yourself a pair.
But no matter who’s wearing them now, to those of us who grew up in the most bodacious decade ever, leg warmers will always belong to 80s fashion.
We didn’t worry about ingesting chemicals or eating processed foods. We just gobbled down whatever was tasty. If we wanted the news, we either tuned in to the local television network or we picked up a newspaper.
We didn’t have personal computers and smart phones. The closest thing to Twitter was the water cooler in your office or the jungle gym on your school’s playground. Yes, to discuss what was going on in the world, we actually had to talk to people in person. When we missed our favorite TV shows, we were just plain screwed. There was no Tivo, no Hulu, and no iTunes.
We didn’t have as much and didn’t know as much, which totally explains why looking back on the 80s, everything seems so innocent.
In the 80s…
Yes, life may have been simpler in the 80s but it wasn’t quite as convenient either. Things were weirdly and totally different. Want proof? You got it:
- In the 80s, Michael Jackson was a sex symbol.
- Bert and Ernie’s relationship was completely platonic.
- An egg represented your brain. A fried egg represented your brain on drugs.
- We knew all the words to the Oscar Meyer wiener commercials (Oh I wish I was an Oscar Meyer wiener).
- We turned up the collars on our blouses, jackets, and polo shirts.
- We were perpetually gagging on spoons.
- We learned grammar by watching Schoolhouse Rock.
- We wondered where the beef was.
- We toted around walkmans that weighed several pounds so we could listen to our favorite mix tapes on the go.
- David Hasselhoff was cool and drove one bad-ass, talking car.
- We wore leg warmers even if we weren’t dancers.
- A Commodore 64 was considered advanced technology.
- We wore three or more pairs of socks and bought shoes two sizes too large to accommodate them.
- Donkey Kong had such realistic graphics!
- Everybody had a keyboard (the music kind, not the computer kind).
- We honestly believed either Debbie Gibson or Tiffany would be the next big princess of pop.
- Atari was cutting edge in the 80s.
- People used typewriters.
- Everyone had big plans for listening to Prince’s “1999″ on the eve of the new millennium… in 10 or 20 years.
- You had to listen carefully to a song (over and over) and take notes in order to get all the lyrics.
- Every family had a station wagon.
- There were only two flavors of coffee: regular and decaffeinated.
- The movie TRON had the best special effects ever.
- Teenagers had keg parties when their parents were out of town. If nobody’s parents were out of town, they brought the keg out to some rural road.
- Everybody danced in the 80s.
- Pretty much everybody knew where the phrase “kiss mah grits” came from and they also knew what it meant.
- Luke and Laura’s wedding was just as important as any other wedding you were actually invited to.
- We wondered who shot J.R. (and everyone knew who J.R. was).
- Obtaining a Cabbage Patch Kid seemed like the most important goal in life.
- Being a Material Girl didn’t seem like a bad thing at all.
- Gummy bears were a strange, new candy.
- Everybody was reading Deenie by Judy Blume because there was supposedly swear words and sex in it!
- Reebok tennis shoes were super cool.
- There was no underlying meaning when someone suggested you drink a little Kool-Aid.
- Getting in and out of your car via the windows (rather than the doors) seemed like a good idea.
- Star Search seemed like a possible vehicle for launching your music career.
- We pegged and rolled our pant legs, and not because they were too wide or too long.
- “Psych” meant “just kidding” and had nothing to do with one’s mental state.
- We wore bright, florescent clothing and accessories with absolutely no shame.
- We tried desperately to master the moonwalk.
- We could remember listening to 8-track tapes and cassettes seemed state-of-the-art by comparison.
- It was assumed that people would be living on the moon and astronauts would have visited Mars by the year 2000.
- There was nothing chauvinistic about the fact that Smurfette was the only female Smurf.
- Every other word we said was “like,” “totally,” or “like totally.”
- In the 80s, punk rockers were shocking.
- We bought and used large quantities of Aqua-Net aerosol canned hairspray.
- We actually wanted our MTV because they actually played music videos.
- Guys who pierced their ears were either way cool and edgy, gay, or both.
- Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, owned at least one Rubik’s Cube.
- Rotary phones standard. Push-button phones were futuristic.
- Nobody could figure out how to program a VCR, so all the digital VCR clocks read 12:00 and flashed incessantly.
- You could wake up with bed-head and that was considered presentable.
- Ronald Regan was just an actor from the olden days.
- Ronald McDonald might actually make an appearance at your local McDonald’s.
- There were cartoons on TV that made getting up early on Saturday morning worthwhile.
- People still communicated by handwriting letters and putting them in the mail.
- Watching movies at home, whenever we wanted, was a novelty.
- If we wanted a song, we either tape-recorded it off the radio or we had to buy the whole album.
- It was cool to write all over your shoes (and some clothes) with magic marker.
- Only pirates and convicts had tattoos in the 80s.
- Nobody worried about the end of the world or taking care of the planet.
- To get money out of the bank, you had to walk in during business hours and sign your name on a withdrawal slip.
- If you placed a call to a company, a real, live human being would answer and they would actually help you.
- M&Ms melted in your mouth, not in your hands, and the green ones made you horny.
- The U.S. had a comprehensive space program and people cared about it.
- Pluto was still a planet.
- The U.S. still manufactured goods, like clothing, cars, electronics, and so on.
- Porky’s was like the dirtiest movie ever made.
- Mickey Roarke was a sex god.
- “Bad” sometimes meant “good.”
- Our lunchboxes featured our favorite TV characters.
- A valley girl was not a girl who lived in the valley — it was a way of life.
Sometimes, it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in just a few, short decades. We look back at the 80s and wonder how we got by without all the technology that we have today. We’re a little embarrassed about what we wore in the 80s and the things that impressed us back then seem absurd now. But it was the 80s — we didn’t know any better. And life was good.
Who was born in 1988? Who died? What events impacted society and shaped the world as we know it today? Did we make any important advances?
This installment of the 80s timeline focuses on 1988.
Fans of Rihanna will want to know that the Barbadian pop singer was born in 1988, as was British songstress, Adele. Celebrities contributed to the gene pool: The Hulk’s wife gave birth to Brooke Hogan and Bruce Willis and Demi Moore welcomed daughter Rumer in 1988. Actor Haley Joel Osment, who wowed us with his acting skills at a very young age, was born in 1988. But he couldn’t see dead people until much later.
Every year, we say goodbye to people who’ve influenced our culture. In 1988, one of the saddest and most startling deaths was that of Heather O’Rourke, the 13-year-old actress who had portrayed Carol Anne in the 80s Poltergeist movie franchise. Beloved singer Roy Orbison passed away in 1988 as did Andy Gibb. The Andy Warhol circle grew smaller with the loss of both Nico (singer-songwriter, fashion model, and actress) and Jean-Michel Basquiat (musician and painter). We also lost three great American writers in 1988: Robert A. Heinlein, Louis L’Amour, and Raymond Carver.
80s Timeline: 1988 Events by Month
Two things are certain: life and death. But every year, plenty of other major events shape our culture, inform our society, and make the news. Some of our 80s timeline events are joyous while others are tragedies. But they all affected us in some way. Here’s a look at the 80s timeline for 1988 by month:
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 140.58 points (6.85%) on January 8, 1988.
- In Israel, several police officers and 70 Palestinians are injured at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
- Australia celebrates its bicentennial on January 26, 1988.
- The Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives rejects President Reagan’s request for over $36 million to support Nicaraguan Contras.
- The 1988 Winter Olympics are held in Canada from February 13 – 28.
- The U.S. Supreme Court overturns a decision to award Jerry Falwell $200,000 for defamation by Husler magazine in Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, paving the way for millions more to hurl insults at the hateful false evangelist.
- On March 7, the Special Air Service shoots and kills three unarmed Provisional Irish Republican Army members in Gibraltar. A couple of weeks later, the IRA kills British Army Corporals Woods and Howes.
- 17 servicemen are killed when two U.S. Army helicopters collide in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
- Gallaudet University (a university for the deaf) elects its first deaf president, marking a turning point for deaf civil rights.
- On March 16, 1988, the Iraqi government carries out a poison gas attack, killing thousands.
- Lt. Colonel Oliver North and Vice Admiral John Poindexter are indicted in the Iran-Contra Affair (for conspiracy to defraud the U.S.).
- Arizona Governor Evan Mecham is impeached.
- The Last Emperor wins nine Oscars at the Academy Awards.
- Sonny Bono (of Sonny & Cher) is elected mayor of Palm Springs, California.
- The Soviet Union promises to withdraw forces from Afghanistan.
- The 1988 World Expo opens in Brisbane, Australia.
- A drunk driver collides with a bus near Carrollton, Kentucky, killing 27 people.
- The U.S. Surgeon General issues a report stating that the addictive properties of nicotine are similar to heroin and cocaine.
- The U.S. Supreme Court rules that a search warrant isn’t required for police to search through garbage (California v. Greenwood).
- The United Kingdom passes Section 28, which outlaws promotion of homosexuality in schools.
- Microsoft releases Windows 2.1.
- Musicians, comedians, film makers, and other entertainers gather in Wembley Stadium to give a concert celebrating (imprisoned) Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday.
- The Netherlands wins Euro 88 (defeating the Soviet Union 2–0).
- 165 oil workers and rescuers are killed when an explosion rocks the Piper Alpha drilling platform in the North Sea.
- Medical waste discovered on beaches in the greater New York area leads to forced closure of numerous beaches during one of the hottest summers in the American Northeast.
- When the city attempts to enforce a curfew at Tompkins Square Park in New York City, a riot ensues.
- Thousands of anti-government protesters are killed in the 8888 Uprising in Burma (Myanmar).
- After a million have died, the Iran–Iraq War finally ends.
- Mehran Karimi Nasseri, (“Terminal man”) gets stuck in a Paris airport terminal, where he will live until 2006.
- Hurricane Gilbert devastates Jamaica.
- The 1988 Summer Olympics are held in South Korea from September 17 to October 2.
- Women are granted admission to Magdalene College, Cambridge. Male students wear black armbands and fly a black flag.
- When the UK bans interviews with IRA members, the BBC finds a loophole by using professional actors.
- Super Mario Bros. 3 is released in Japan.
- The first Internet worm (the Morris Worm) is launched from MIT.
- George H. W. Bush is elected President of the United States of America.
- In Portland, Oregon, an Ethopian student is beaten to death by members of a Neo-Nazi group called East Side White Pride.
- Ted Turner purchases NWA Crockett and converts it into WCW (World Championship Wrestling).
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 debuts KTMA.
- Benazir Bhutto becomes the first woman to lead an Islamic state as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
- Thousands die and millions lose their homes when a cyclone hits Bangladesh.
- A 6.9 earthquake kills almost 25,000, injures 15,000 and leaves almost half a million homeless in Armenia.
- Pan Am Flight 103 explodes in mid-air over Scotland, killing 270 people. The Libyans are thought to be responsible.
80s Timeline – Summary
If you know where you’ve been, you can figure out where you’re going. The 80s timeline is a way to see how events of the past shaped the present that we’re all living in.
The 80s timeline is not meant for academic purposes and is presented here for entertainment only. Check an encyclopedia for further details on the events of 1988.
The Dukes of Hazzard was just one of many 80s tv shows that were based on movies. It was inspired by the 1975 film Moonrunners, also created by Gy Waldron, who took many concepts and characters from his original creation.
Our heroes are two all-American cutie-pie cousins named Bo and Luke Duke. Sometimes, their cousin Daisy Duke gets in on their adventures. These two fellas hightail around Hazzard County (Georgia) stirring up trouble in their muscle car, which is a customized 1969 Dodge Charger christened the General Lee.
The Duke boys’ main objective is to thwart the county commissioner, Boss Hogg and his half-witted cohort, the country sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. They get a lot of help from their wise old Uncle Jesse, who’s not a big fan of the law.
80s TV Shows
In the 80s, TV shows were just like everything else — a new fad every year. Only the cream of the crop rose to the top and stayed there for the entire decade. Sadly, The Dukes of Hazzard sunk to the bottom of the barrel long before the 80s ended. But when the show was at its peak, it was crazy popular. I remember watching it religiously for at least an entire year. I had a tee shirt that declared “I *heart* Bo” and in third grade, I proudly toted my Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox to school every day. Oh yes, I was a little fangirl. But unfortunately, it turned out that Bo really wasn’t my type and the following school year, I left my lunchbox behind and found some other 80s TV character to worship.
The Dukes of Hazzard Backstory
Our two 80s TV hunks were on probation for transporting moonshine and got in trouble with the law. Rather than see his nephews go to jail, Uncle Jesse struck a deal with county officials — he promised to stop making moonshine in exchange for the Duke brothers’ freedom. One of the conditions of the agreement stated that the Bo and Luke couldn’t carry firearms, which is why they use combound bows, often tipped with dynamite, which gave them more fire power than any gun. Also, they couldn’t leave the country.
Meanwhile the shady, corrupt, and squat little Boss Hogg had his black crusty heart set on apprehending the boys and tossing them in the can, mostly because the Duke family had a penchant for screwing up the Boss’s crooked scams.
This sets the stage for plenty of hilarious hi-jinks as Boss Hogg and his cohorts practically chase their own tails trying to catch the Duke boys (and the rest of the Duke family for that matter) at anything illegal. Plus, Boss Hogg was always trying to take away Uncle Jesse’s farm. Taxes! Taxes! It’s one sham after another in Hazzard County, y’all.
Bad for Business
You know, the arrogance of big business was playing heavy handed even back in the 80s. Although the show was always a top-rated 80s TV series, the bigwigs decided to shortchange the actors. I guess they didn’t know back then that the actors make the show! In 1982 before they filmed the fifth season, John Schneider (Bo) and Tom Wopat (Luke) walked off the set in a contract dispute over salaries and merchandising royalties. Instead of eating some delicious humble pie, the show claimed that Bo and Luke had gone off to join NASCAR. But lookie here! We’ve got two lookalikes, Bo and Luke’s long-lost cousins…
It was an utter failure. Fans cried “foul!” and before the season ended, our adorable good ole’ boys were back. Unfortunately, the entire debacle caused the show to lose its zest. We have a phrase for what happened: Dukes went and jumped the shark. And I mean totally jumped the shark. Fans couldn’t forgive, so the show faded away a couple of years later.
Waylon Jennings wrote and performed the mighty memorable theme song from The Dukes of Hazzard, which was called “The Good Ol’ Boys.” Credited as “The Balladeer,” Mr. Jennings also narrated the show.
Dude, that brings back some memories.
- Daisy Dukes are short-shorts, usually jean cut-offs, and they are named after the one and only (YES I went there, the remake movie SUCKED) Daisy Duke, played by Catherine Bach who sported the shorts in most of her appearances on the show.
- If you go to buy the theme song, prepare to be disappointed. The one available for purchase is not the same one that was used in the show’s opening credits. The lyrics are different and most notably, the YEE HAWWW is missing from the end. And that, my friends, is just plain lame.
In fact, MTV permanently changed the face of television and also helped revolutionize the music industry, giving artists a visual platform and allowing audiences to connect with their favorite musicians 24/7.
The station had a huge impact on culture, introducing us to VJs, and providing a venue through which the public could get more entertainment, as well as the latest music news and events.
The station originally played music videos 24 hours a day. Eventually, new shows were introduced, but these focused closely on music. Later, MTV would divorce itself from its 80s TV music roots and expand its programming, primarily with reality shows that had nothing to do with music.
Video Killed the Radio Star
It happened at just one minute after midnight on August 1, 1981. The words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” were spoken by co-founder John Lack. Next, the MTV guitar theme played as viewers were treated to a montage of public domain footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
The Apollo video with the theme song became an MTV staple.
Unlike the Apollo 11 moon landing, the launch of MTV was only witnessed by a few thousand people through a single cable system located in New Jersey. Hey, that’s how 80s TV worked!
Immediately after the first-ever promotion for MTV itself, the station aired its first video. The aptly chosen “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles has since become a historic video, both for being the first video to play on MTV and for its eerily ironic and predictive lyrics:
In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone to far.
Pictures came and broke your heart, put the blame on VTR.
As it grew, MTV shook up the music industry. Artists could no longer get by with studio recordings and radio airplay. Establishing an image and a presence on MTV became essential to commercial success, and MTV even gained control over genre and artist popularity, helping some careers and genres (while being accused of hurting others) by putting them into heavier (or lighter) rotation.
Indeed, the radio star was dying.
“I Want My MTV”
After knocking the radio star out of its way, MTV embarked on over a decade of 80s TV domination before it slowly started moving away from music programming, a move that is now near completion (the station hardly ever plays music videos anymore).
Throughout the 80s, MTV grew to iconic status. Its core slogan “I want my MTV” could be heard uttered in homes and high schools across America as teens urged their parents to add the channel to cable packages. The slogan and MTV logo appeared on t-shirts, jackets, hats, buttons, and stickers, and even in one famous song (and music video) by Dire Straights, “Money for Nothing,” featuring Sting crooning the MTV slogan in the background.
80s TV for Teens and Music Lovers
MTV had a broad appeal, but mostly targeted teens and avid music lovers. Its original format was closely modeled after pop radio with young men and women, coined as VJs (for video jockeys) hosting and introducing videos.
The original MTV VJs were Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson, and Martha Quinn.
The VJs became celebrities in their own right, and MTV soon became a powerhouse in the music industry. First, the studios realized that the video medium had a positive impact on artists’ brand recognition and ultimately, could increase album sales. It didn’t take long before the record companies started investing in videos, creating clips that were designed and produced specifically for MTV.
Music videos have increasingly become accessible online. You can download them on iTunes or watch them on YouTube. It would, however, be wrong to assume that MTV shifted away from music programming because of the accessibility of videos online. In fact, one of the earliest shows to drive a wedge between music and music television was “The Real World,” which was first broadcast in 1992, long before the Internet had made its way into every home in America.
The station has received harsh criticism since it broke its promise to air music videos 24 hours a day. Based on reviews, it appears that artists and audiences alike are displeased with MTV’s modern programming, which has been criticized both for its lack of quality and its lack of music. Most people seem to prefer MTV in its 80s TV incarnation.
However, MTV did recently launch something that might be better than music television, and that is music internet. MTV Music allows website visitors to search and play videos at their leisure. And yes, it’s available 24 hours a day.
As for this 80s TV lover, I still want my old MTV back. I want MTV News at the top of every hour. I want better VMAs, live concerts, and up-close interviews with the hottest artists. Of the 80s.
Before we all knew it, parents were scratching each others’ eyeballs out trying to grab the last one, because the stores kept running out. Nobody could keep them in stock. And at Christmastime, it was every collector for herself.
Cabbage Patch Kids literally swept the nation back in the 80s. Today, they’re just another toy on the shelf, but they were the reigning kings and queens of 80s toys just a couple of decades ago.
80s Toys and Trends
In the 80s, toys and trends had consumers running to the nearest department stores in a perpetual state of frenzy. Every week, it was something new — the Rubik’s Cube, Atari, and Cabbage Patch Kids.
If any decade knew how to bring out the inner child in every adult, it was the 80s. Because these trendy toys and games weren’t just for kids. The grown-ups got in on the action. Those Rubik’s cubes graced plenty of office desks. Parents sat in line right behind their kids to get a turn on the Atari. And yes, even the matronly ladies who didn’t know what leg warmers were had crazy Cabbage Patch collections.
Because in the 80s, you didn’t just buy something and enjoy it. You had to buy lots of somethings. Lots of the same thing, only slightly different: Rubik’s cubes in different sizes and colors, every new model of Atari along with all the games you could play on it, and as many of those squash-faced baby dolls as you could get your hands on.
Cabbage Patch Kids
At first, they were butt ugly. People were simultaneously put off and enchanted by their squished faces. Oh, and the strange fact that they claimed to have literally been seeded, sprouted, and grown from an actual patch of cabbage. That made them even weirder and more alluring. They even came with adoption papers.
In terms of 80s toys, I remember Cabbage Patch Kids being the biggest craze. Atari was huge too, but people weren’t assaulting one another in toy stores to get an Atari. Cabbage Patch Kids, on the other hand, well, let’s just say I’m surprised it never escalated into an old-lady riot.
In my memory, it wasn’t unusual for grown-ups to play with 80s toys. But games like Atari or puzzles like Rubik’s Cube are pretty age-neutral. What were all those grannies doing lining up for three blocks to get one Cabbage Patch Doll for each of their granddaughters plus five for themselves?
It was an odd phenomenon. Exactly the kind that could only happen in the 80s.
Today, these silly dolls go for $199 apiece (and again — you don’t buy them — you adopt them), so if you want to add one to your family, go ahead and get one at cabbagepatchkids.com.
80s slang was downright viral. Most of the popular verbiage of the decade faded before the 90s really got rolling, but a few favorite words have stuck around and followed us right into the new millennium.
“Awesome” is one of those words. And why shouldn’t it be? Unlike the weirdly popular “bad,” which actually meant “good,” “awesome” was accurate. It honored its definition. And it rolled off the tongue quite nicely, especially when preceded by the other most popular word of the decade — totally (as in: totally awesome!).
Best of all, it was a versatile word that you could use to stress the greatness of just about anything: awesome shoes, awesome song, awesome time, awesome decade (that would be the 80s, people).
80s Slang Overload
In the 80s, slang was rampant. Long strings of adjectives made the decade unusually rich with unnecessary verbiage: Oh my god, I like totally have to get that way awesome new song by Madonna, like right now, dude. Fer sure.
Naturally, the big proponents of the crazy slang were the kids. Without teenagers, 80s slang would been practically nonexistent.
But why? Why did kids suddenly take over the language and remake it to their own, hormone- and angst-ridden purposes? My theory is that this was a side effect of another 80s trend, which was in film making. In the 80s, producers started to see the teen crowd as a lucrative audience. To boost business, they made more movies for this particular audience, and peppered the dialog appropriately. You know, so the kids would totally understand the awesome characters and, like, relate to them.
I’m not going to get all crazy and whip out the Oxford English dictionary, but it’s worth taking a look at what “awesome” means. Here’s what dictionary.com says: