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.
When you think about 80s people who defined the decade, Harrison Ford doesn’t immediately come to mind. In fact, plenty of other 80s actors were far more willing to hog the spotlight. Meanwhile, Harrison Ford preferred to lie low, maintaining his privacy, even though his characters soaked up the limelight.
80s Actors Didn’t Always Outlive the Decade
In the 80s, many celebrities hit the big time only to see their careers deflate once the 80s came to an end. Maybe it was all those 80s fads and the way stars clung to them. Harrison Ford wasn’t having any of it. He projected a classy, timeless demeanor and avoided becoming another trend.
Maybe that’s why his booming career exploded in the nineties, which was when Harrison truly established himself as an A-list celebrity rather than a character actor. Unlike other 80s actors, Harrison Ford managed to sustain a career that as of 2010, has already spanned over four decades.
His acting career lasted beyond those of other 80s people, but it also started long before most other 80s actors. His earliest roles were in the mid-sixties, so by the time he joined the ranks of 80s actors, he’d already put in his due diligence.
Harrison took on roles that transcended the decade. Both of his biggest screen personas did not belong to the 80s though they became staples of 80s movies. Han Solo was from “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” and Indiana Jones was living in the early 20th century. The characters were timeless, Harrison Ford was timeless, and so were the 80s movies that he starred in.
A Decade of Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford put out ten 80s movies over the course of the decade. That’s just about one film per year. He was best-known and most-loved for his roles as Han Solo from the Star Wars films and also for his portrayal of Indiana Jones from the Indiana Jones series, which returned to screens recently after a 20-year hiatus.
Han Solo and Star Wars
The first film hit theaters in 1977 and was a blockbuster, a smashing success like no other. Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope captivated audiences. The two sequels that made Ford one of the most popular 80s people were The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Though Han Solo is one of the most famous film characters of all time, it was Harrison Ford’s role as Indiana Jones that left no doubt that Ford was a leading man. Raiders of the Lost Ark was a box office hit, and in the film, Harrison Ford stole the screen, captured imaginations, and made the ladies swoon. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was just as popular, though by the third film in the series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the novelty seemed to have worn off.
By the end of the 80s, the Indiana Jones trilogy was completed, and it wasn’t until 20 years later that audiences once again got a taste of the Indie adventure. In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), a handsomely aged Indiana Jones reminded us why we fell in love with him (and Harrison Ford) in the first place.
Other Notable Film Titles from Harrison Ford
As an 80s actor, Harrison Ford spawned the decade playing staple 80s characters Han Solo and Indiana Jones. But Ford kept himself busy with other film projects as well:
Blade Runner (1982)
The Mosquito Coast (1986)
Working Girl (1988)
Decade after decade, Harrison Ford delivers the goods that makes him top-notch, not just among 80s actors, but among all actors. Though both Harrison and his films are timeless, his 80s movies must be remembered as the films that won our hearts. That’s why Harrison Ford is one of our favorite 80s people.
Any mention of Michael Jackson always takes me back to the first time I noticed him. I was just a kid, about ten or eleven years old, watching a little 80s TV with my parents. It was the Motown 25th Anniversary Special.
I didn’t know who the guy was, but when he suddenly glided backward across the stage, appearing to defy the laws of physics, I sat up and my eyes went wide. I remember that my parents, too, were astonished.
“Did he just do that?”
“What was that?”
“It had to be special effects!”
Michael Jackson had just debuted the moonwalk.
A Star Rises
The next thing we knew, Michael Jackson had taken over anything and everything that had to do with 80s music. He was everywhere – on MTV, on the radio, on tour, on a poster taped to the back of my bedroom door, and blaring on my boom box.
Every single song on that Thriller cassette was a hit. I watched Michael at the Grammys, his arms overflowing with awards. After the Pepsi commercial debacle, in which Michael’s hair caught on fire, I was concerned for his well being. I even remember his duet with Paul McCartney – “Say, Say, Say” – an 80s music video that I adored.
I tried and tried, but I just couldn’t get that moonwalk down.
80s Music Memories of Michael
The “Thriller” music video was, in my memory, Michael Jackson’s greatest achievement in the 80s. Everybody was talking about it and that was before it aired. The buzz got even louder once the video went into MTV’s rotation. It was unlike anything audiences had ever seen before. The theme (zombies) was wild, the choreography was incredible, and the song was packed with energy. The dancing was phenomenal.
Whenever “We Are the World” played, I remember feeling like someone had roped my heart and was tugging on it. My eyes would tear up and I’d sing along. I loved that video too – all those awesome 80s music stars in one video!
And “Billie Jean” was an 80s music staple. The song, the video, they were the thread with which the 80s were woven. Hearing that song today is like flying through time, back to the days of lunchboxes and leg warmers. Times were simpler then. It was the 80s. And it was my childhood.
I adored Michael Jackson. Everything from his smile to that sparkly glove enchanted me, and I especially admired his dancing. After all, my dream back then was to grow up and become a dancer myself. Michael Jackson was the best dancer I had ever seen.
As much as I adored Michael, I wasn’t a rabid fan. I had Thriller and a poster, and I always watched his videos when they came on MTV or listened to his songs when they played on the radio. I followed the stories about him, too, but I don’t think I realized back then, while it was happening, just how monumental this artist was.
Last week, I first heard about Michael Jackson’s death on Facebook. It’s gotta be a joke, I thought. It was just one comment somewhere on my news feed. I hit refresh and couldn’t believe what I saw. Post after post from my Facebook friends were talking about how Michael had died from cardiac arrest but it was not confirmed and he had been taken to a Los Angeles hospital.
I stared at the computer, my jaw hanging open. I was dumbfounded.
80s Music Legend
Since that day, I’ve followed much of the news about Michael’s life and his death. I’ve listened to his music, watched his videos. I’ve sang along and I’ve cried, mourned. Here was a man-child who never had a childhood and never grew up. Has there ever been a human being more fascinating or enchanting than this modern day Peter Pan?
Michael Jackson wasn’t just a star. He was a supernova. His life and his career were riddled with soaring highs and devastating lows. He was unusual and eccentric. Scandals haunted him. And he was clearly troubled.
But one thing is undeniable. When Michael took the stage, everything changed. His shyness faded and a magical confidence took its place. It’s like when the music started and the lights went on, Michael went into metamorphosis. He changed and changed us.
We will always be able to dance and sing along with the musical legacy that Michael left us. His performances changed people’s lives and through music and through love, he will live on forever.
From preppy to punk, style was everything and could involve wearing just about anything — from the hats we wore on our heads to the legwarmers we wrapped around our ankles.
80s fashion was busy and bright, fun and fierce, and like everything else in the 80s, it was larger than life.
What do you know about 80s fashion? Find out by taking on this 80s trivia challenge.
Are you an 80s fashion maven or an 80s fashion failure? Answer each of the questions below, then scroll down to check your answers.
1. 80s fashion was:
D. All of the above
2.True or False:
Dancewear became popular as streetwear during the 80s
3. 80s hair (and especially the bangs) was always worn:
A. Slicked back
B. Loose and messy
C. Big with lots of hairspray
D. Short and cropped
4. In the 80s, it was popular to:
A. Keep it simple – very few accessories and hardly any jewelry
B. Dress up your wardrobe with tons and tons of 80s accessories
C. Wear nice, classy jewelry
D. Put your jeans on inside out
5. One pair of 80s shoes made our feet stink and kept breaking:
B. Thigh-high boots
C. Jelly shoes
6. To get your 80s hair out of your face, you might opt for:
A. Shaving it all off
B. A side ponytail
D. French twist
7. Celebrities have always started fashion trends. In the 80s:
A. Tom Cruise made Ray-Bans popular
B. Madonna made hoop skirts popular
C. Prince made baseball caps popular
D. Molly Ringwald made t-shirts popular
8. True or False:
In the 80s, accessories like hats and gloves were forbidden!
9. Popular 80s fashion trends included:
A. T-shirts worn under spaghetti-strapped sundresses
B. Oversized shirts
C. Bell bottoms
D. Floor-length skirts
10. Who was an 80s fashion icon?
A. Coco Chanel
C. Margaret Thatcher
D. Ronald Reagan
80s Fashion Trivia Answers
1. (D) 2. (True) 3. (C) 4. (B) 5. (C) 6. (B) 7. (A) 8. (False) 9. (B) 10. (B)
New Wave is just one of the many 80s fads that swept across the music scene. Though the new wave movement started in the late 70s, it took hold and grew to popularity in the 80s.
A hybrid of rock, punk, pop, and synth-pop, New Wave is a vague term. Sometimes it’s raw and edgy. Other times, it’s synthesizer-heavy and packed with pop sounds.
The Birth of New Wave
New Wave is one of the 80s fads that originated in Britain, though it’s unclear where the term came from. Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren used it as an alternate label for punk music. The term also referenced an avant-garde film movement out of France, which occurred during the 1960s.
Wherever the term started, it was adopted by British punk fanzines and later made its way into mainstream music publications. In the early days, New Wave and punk were used interchangeably as labels for anti-pop music. But by the end of 1977, New Wave had come to define a more specific breed of underground music out of the UK.
In time, New Wave would evolve closer to pop than its punk predecessor, eventually becoming a genre for rock-based pop dance music emblazoned with synthesizers.
Growing 80s Fads
In the U.S., punk music was mostly centered around the scene at popular New York club CBGB. Record producers were concerned that punk rock was just one of many 80s fads, so they set out in search of a better term to apply to this new genre of music. “New Wave” won the day.
Early New Wave artists included bands like The Ramones and The Talking Heads. Their music was experimental and they were anti-corporate, critical of commercial art, and particularly wary of anything that could be lumped in with mainstream 80s fads.
New Wave Music
New Wave music had a sound that was reminiscent of punk but had too much pop flavor for the punk genre. The New Wave scene was less centered around anarchy and far more experimental in its music artistry. Song lyrics tended toward complexity that was almost poetic.
Well-known artists who were associated with early New Wave include Nick Lowe, Patti Smith, Blondie, Elvis Costello, and Joe Jackson. Other artists, who were originally considered punk, were moved into the New Wave category.
Outliving most 80s fads, New Wave continued to evolve. In time, it marked a genre that was less noisy than punk. In fact, many New Wave songs were soft. They were usually heavily laden with synthesizers and New Wave bands were eventually manufactured by record labels.
In its maturity, New Wave came to include acts such as Spandau Ballet, Flock of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, and Soft Cell. Darker New Wave bands were considered post-punk. These included Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cure, and The Psychedelic Furs.
According to Wikipedia: “Although distinct, punk, New Wave, and post-punk all shared common ground: an energetic reaction to the supposedly overproduced, uninspired popular music of the 1970s.” In many ways, New Wave was a rebellion against disco.
80s Fads Popularized By MTV
New Wave started falling out of favor it Britain just as it was taking hold in the U.S. during the early 80s.
In fact, MTV brought the New Wave movement its greatest success and longevity that surpassed most other 80s fads. Using the medium that was music video, British acts left Britain behind and swam across the pond to MTV and legions of new fans. British artists on independent labels outsold American artists on major labels and the phenomenon was called the “Second British Invasion.”
At this point, the term New Wave was used liberally to refer to almost every new pop artist that featured synthesizers or did not have long hair (and therefore was not a hair band). Groups that found themselves tucked under the New Wave umbrella included A-ha, OMD, and the Pet Shop Boys. Numerous one-hit wonders came out of New Wave, many of which were theme songs in Brat Pack films – Valley Girl, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club.
New Wave After the 80s
All good things come to an end and 80s fads are no exception, though we here at Total 80s Remix hope fervently that many 80s fads will see a revival (soon). By the end of the 80s, New Wave was becoming even more electronic and helped feed the development of house music and techno. The independent spirit of New Wave continued to influence music of the 90s, feeding styles such as college rock and grunge, as well as alternative rock.
By the mid-90s, the grunge fad had passed and New Wave saw a mini-rebirth with bands like Elastica and Smash. No Doubt and Gwen Stefani as a solo artist both encapsulated New Wave and cited New Wave as a dominant influence.
So it seems New Wave doesn’t fit in with most other 80s fads. In many ways, it lives on in the music of today. Rock it, enjoy it, and dance to it.
1989 was the last year of the best decade in history, a bridge to the nineties, the final hurrah before we left totally oversized decadence behind and entered ten years of grunge.
So, who was born in 1989? And who died? What events that occurred in this year shaped the world as we know it today? This installment of the 80s timeline focuses on 1989.
Love Harry Potter? The actor who portrays him, Daniel Radcliffe was born in 1989. So was Hayden Panettiere of Heroes fame (save the cheerleader, save the world!). American Idol hopeful Sanjaya Malakar was born in 1989 and so was Idol winner Jordin Sparks. 1989 also gave us pop country sensation Taylor Swift and controversial hip-hop dancing man Chris Brown.
Many cultural icons were lost to us during our 80s timeline. In 1989, Spanish artist Salvador Dali passed away. We lost comediennes Gilda Radner from Saturday Night Live and Lucille Ball, the beloved and funny redhead. We said goodbye to acclaimed actors Bette Davis and Laurence Olivier, and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson.
80s Timeline: 1989 Events by Month
It’s a total joy to welcome new life and it’s a big bummer when we lose those we love. But plenty of other major events happened that were newsworthy. Here’s a look at the 80s timeline for 1989 by month:
- January 17 – It what was coined as the “Stockton Massacre,” Patrick Edward Purdy murdered 5 children, wounded 30, and then shot himself in Stockton, California.
- January 20 – George H. W. Bush became the 41st President of the U.S.A.
- January 24 – Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy is executed in Florida via the electric chair.
- February 10 – Ron Brown becomes the first African American to lead a major political party in the U.S.A. when he is elected as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
- February 11 – Barbara Clementine Harris becomes the first female bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A.
- February 14 – The first Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite enters orbit.
- March 4 – Time, Inc. and Warner Communications announce a merger that will ultimately form conglomerate Time Warner.
- March 24 – The Exxon Valdez spills 11 million gallons of oil in Alaska.
- March 29 – Rain Man wins best picture at the 61st Academy Awards.
- April 14 – The Keating Five (including John McCain) are accused as responsible for the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s, which cost taxpayers in the U.S.A. almost $200 billion in bailouts.
- April 25 – The worlds smallest mobile phone, the Motorola MicroTAC Personal Cellular Telephone, is introduced.
- May 1 – Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney World opens its doors to the public.
- May 2 – Hungary removes 150 miles of barbed wire fencing at its Austrian border, marking the first crack in the Iron Curtain.
- May 12 – In San Bernadino, California, a Southern Pacific Railroad freight train crashes on Duffy Street. Just thirteen days later, a pipeline explodes at the same section of the same street.
- June 4 – The Tiananmen Square massacre.
- June 12 – The Corcoran Gallery of Art pulls Robert Mapplethorpe’s gay photography exhibit.
- June 21 – 250 people are arrested by British police for celebrating the summer solstice at Stonehenge.
- June 23 – The 1989 Batman film hits theaters and becomes the highest grossing film based on a DC comic book until 2008′s The Dark Knight. (Yes, we LOVE Batman flicks).
- July 5 – Seinfeld premieres.
- July 14 – 200th anniversary of the French Revolution.
- July 19 – United Airlines Flight 232 crashes in Iowa. 112 people are killed, 184 survive.
- July 26 – Cornell student Robert Tappan Morris Jr. is indicted for releasing a computer virus, the first such indictment under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
- July 31 – Nintendo launches GameBoy in North America.
- August 14 – Sega Genesis launches in North America.
- August 16-17 – Woodstock ’89 festival.
- August 20 – Lyle and Erik Menendez shoot their wealthy parents in the family home, killing them.
- August 24 – Famous, record-setting baseball player Pete Rose accepts a lifetime ban from baseball due to allegations of illegal gambling. He is therefore banned from becoming inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- September 5 – President George H. W. Bush holds up a bag of cocaine that was purchased in Lafayette Park (across the street) during his first televised speech to the country.
- September 6 – The South African general election, which is the last vote under apartheid, favors the National Party.
- September 21 – Hurricane Hugo hits South Carolina and inflicts $7 billion in damages.
- October 13 – On Friday the 13th, the Dow Jones plunges in a mini-crash of the stock market.
- October 17 – A 7.1 earthquake, strikes the California’s Bay Area and leaves 67 dead.
- November 7 – Douglas Wilder of Virginia becomes the first elected African American governor in U.S. history and David Dinkins becomes the first African American mayor of New York City.
- November 9 – (Cold War) East Germany opens checkpoints in the Berlin Wall, and begins letting citizens travel freely to West Germany, and the next day, celebratory Germans start tearing the wall down.
- December 17 – The Simpsons premieres on FOX.
80s Timeline – Summary
Some of it was good (hello comic book movies!) and some of it was bad (Tienneman Square). Like most years, 1989 had its ups and downs. With the 80s timeline, we can learn from history and continue to make the world a totally better place.
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 1989.
Kids today don’t realize how over-the-top everything was in the 80s. One bracelet wasn’t enough – you had to have twenty of them lining your forearm. And a nice, sleek hairstyle was out of the question. You wanted your hair to reach the moon and spread all the way to China.
Everything was like that in the 80s – even the language. Did any other decade produce as much jargon as the 80s did? I think not. Even music and movies got bigger. There more 80s music genres than ever before and new breakthroughs in special effects took film making to new galaxies. It was wicked awesome.
The 80s: Big, Bold, and Bodacious
If it wasn’t big, chances are it wasn’t from the 80s. Everything was enormous. You went through a can of Aqua-Net a day trying to get your hair to be as big as possible. You scoured through the jewelry section in search of the boldest, most colorful earrings. And big wasn’t enough. No. You also had to have lots of everything. Lots of bracelets, jelly shoes, and legwarmers. Lots of mixed tapes. Lots of Cabbage Patch Kids. And lots of style.
Style in the 80s
Big and bold only scratches the surface when it comes to the styles that dominated the 80s. Yes, hair was big and so were earrings. But we even made our shoulders big with plump shoulder pads. Our shirts were enormous (you could NOT have your butt on display), and so were the belts that we wrapped around them. One belt would be four inches thick. Or we’d get a really long (big) belt and wrap it around twice. Or we’d simply use several skinny belts. Speaking of skinny, the guys loved skinny ties and had lots of them. Anything made of colorful plastic was fair game and we stuck that stuff in our hair (banana clips), on our clothes (broaches and pins), our faces (Ray-Bans), and on our feet (jelly shoes). Plus, we had to have three times as many shirts, socks, and accessories because everything had to be layered.
We had so much stuff and it was so big that we needed a whole new language to describe the 80s and everything that we used, wore, and did during that bodacious decade. Rad. Awesome. Tubular. And these words simply didn’t capture the essence enough, so we tagged totally in front of every single adjective we uttered. It was totally rad, totally awesome, and totally tubular. But we got lazy, too. Sometimes we shortened our favorite word of the 80s. It was a total blast, a total mess, and we loved it so much that we made the Total 80s Remix.
Entertainment was as big as everything else. MTV gave us 24 hours of music videos and the new station was a wicked success. It made stars and kept us glued to the tube into the wee hours (you always just knew they were going to play your favorite Madonna video sometime in the next hour). One-hit wonders were all the rage and new genres like hip hop and new wave sprung up, giving birth to new subcultures. Filmmakers harnessed technology and brought us blockbusters like nothing we’d seen before: E.T., The Empire Strikes Back, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. We loved being entertained in the 80s.
The 80s Craze Lives On
Oh sure, when the nineties came along, it seemed like the 80s were dead. Gloom spread like a virus as grunge music took hold and dancing became passe. Solid Gold was gone and MTV slowly stepped away from music videos in favor of lame reality shows like The Real World and Road Rules.
But the 80s didn’t truly die. They just took a nap. Nowadays, you can look around and see a little bit of the 80s everywhere. Leggings are back and so is the layered look. The superhero movie is bigger than ever and so are the special effects that keep us tromping off to the movie theaters. Listen closely and you’ll still hear mutterings of “totally awesome,” and “that’s rad.” And even music today is borrowing riffs and covers from the beloved 80s.
One generation gave us flappers. Another gave us the poodle skirts. Then, we had the hippies. The 80s gave us so much, and all of it was big, bold, and bodacious, that we can’t even sum it up with a single word or phrase. That’s why we simply call it the 80s.
“The music has magic.
You know you can catch it.
If you let the songs take control,
the sound starts to glisten,
the more that you listen,
and slowly it turns into gold.”
Solid Gold 80s TV
80s TV would have been nothing without the weekly top ten music countdown that was Solid Gold. Few other 80s TV shows captured the essence of the 80s the way Solid Gold did, featuring hit 80s music, hot Solid Gold dancers, performances from the biggest artists of the decade, and some of the most popular 80s music videos.
The show started out as a one-time special in 1980, with a countdown of the top 40 songs from 1979. It was such a huge hit that a regular, weekly show launched, featuring a countdown of the top ten hits of each week. Most songs were played in clips as the famous and totally sexy Solid Gold dancers performed awesome choreographed routines. Each week, special guests came to perform their hit songs and all the biggest 80s stars stood on the Solid Gold stage during the course of the show’s run.
There were also Solid Gold specials throughout the year, which gave credence to older pop hits but followed the show’s regular format. An annual special honored the show’s humble beginnings with a yearly top 40 countdown. Unfortunately, Solid Gold came a end in 1988, which was the show’s final season.
Solid Gold Dancers
There were plenty of other 80s TV shows that mimicked Solid Gold – other countdown shows and programs that featured popular artists performing their latest hits – but none could rival the show’s truly golden offering: the Solid Gold dancers.
Their routines were complex and their outfits were risqué. They were total 80s icons, with big hair, leotards, and sometimes leg warmers. They danced to the hits and to the artists’ performances. They even danced in the show’s opening and closing segments. Every little girl (including me) wanted to grow up to be a Solid Gold dancer, but none had the chance since the show went off the air before the decade was over (and before we were all grown up).
Ironically, the Solid Gold dancers gave their final performance together, not on Solid Gold, but in the 1988 motion picture, Scrooged, which was filmed before the show had officially been canceled.
Solid Gold Hosts and Solid Gold Theme Song
According to Wikipedia:
At the start of Solid Gold’s first season (1980), Michael Miller was chosen by Dionne Warwick to be the show’s Musical Director – a role he continued on with for the entire run of the series. Michael also composed the Solid Gold theme song, along with Academy Award-winning lyricist, Dean Pitchford, who wrote the theme’s words.
Dionne Warwick and Marty Cohen hosted most of the first season, setting the stage for a revolving door of Solid Gold hosts. During the 1982-1983 season, hosting duties were transferred to Marilyn McCoo (of the Fifth Dimension) and Andy Gibb. McCoo hosted the following season solo. Other hosts that appeared included Rick Dees, Arsenio Hall, and Nina Blackwood, who later went on to become an MTV veejay.
Lip Syncing on 80s TV Shows
Live performances were unheard of on Solid Gold. Other 80s TV shows may have offered a venue for performing a song live, but Solid Gold wanted audiences to hear the hits just as they sounded on the radio. So, artists lip synced their performances – all artists except one. Stevie Nicks refused to lip sync and instead did her two Solid Gold performances (Stand Back and Nightbird) live. She even brought in her own dancers.
NOTE: One commentator stopped by to say that he was the musical director for Solid Gold and wanted to clarify that about half of the performances were, in fact, live. Scroll down to view the comment.
Mad Love for 80s TV Shows
If we were counting down the top ten shows of the 80s – or the top 40 80s TV shows for that matter – Solid Gold would totally be number one. The music. The dancers. The hosts and the videos! The theme song and the special guests. We loved all of it back then and we totally still do. Long live 80s TV!
80s TV ushered in an entirely new era of home entertainment. Networks like HBO and Showtime brought movies and other special programming right into your living room. MTV was born and changed music and television. Sitcoms, dramas, animations, and variety shows clogged the airwaves. And we totally loved all of it.
The 80s TV Family
70s shows like The Brady Bunch broke the mold of how families were depicted on television. 80s TV shows carried on the tradition and an entire spectrum of shows that featured nontraditional families became regular fare.
The kids on Full House had one biological father plus two bonus dads. Diff’rent Strokes featured a widowed white dad with two adopted black sons. And the girls on The Facts of Life didn’t live with family at all – their sisters were fellow boarding school students and the role of mother was fulfilled by their housemother, Mrs. Garrett.
But the nuclear family was alive and well, as we could see whenever we tuned into 80s TV shows like Family Ties or The Cosby Show, both of which featured two parents, several kids, and everything but the white picket fence.
80s TV Drama
Dynasty and Falcon Crest were nighttime soap operas that kept viewers coming back week after week to find out who would sleep with who. Hospital dramas like St. Elsewhere gained success while cops and lawyer shows such as Law and Order and Hill Street Blues were instant smashes.
Detectives were special favorites. Remember Moonlighting? Miami Vice?
And the drama wasn’t for nighttime only. Soap operas were as popular in the 80s as they were in any other decade, with General Hospital leading the early 80s TV pack thanks to daytime television’s most famous wedding: Luke and Laura. Later in the decade, Days of Our Lives became television’s most popular daytime drama.
Variety Shows and MTV
It was more a weekly countdown of the top ten hits than an actual variety show. Solid Gold went from ten to one, showing off the week’s greatest hits and featured scantily clad dancers (with totally amazing moves) as well as performances from some of the decade’s biggest hitmakers.
But in 80s TV, it was MTV that took the cake for making the biggest splash, lasting the longest, and having the biggest impact on our culture. Twenty-four hours of music videos. The kids raved and the parents whined. Musicians rallied to the cry of “I want my MTV!” and a new type of star was born – the video star (because the radio star was dead).
Comedy and Animation
Married with Children enjoyed word-of-mouth success and the viewers followed the buzz and laughed at one of the quirkiest families television had ever seen. Roseanne also featured family laughs and depicted a less-than-perfect model family .
The Simpsons hit the little screen late in the decade, slipping onto the airwaves in 1989 and never has an animated show enjoyed so much success (or so many adult viewers).
Saturday Night Live enjoyed its first full decade of success, continuing from its launch in the 70s and dishing out skits and giggles right into the 90s.
80s TV in a Nutshell
There were so many great 80s TV shows and yep, there were some pretty bad ones too. Television totally exploded during the decade with new cable networks popping up, fresh stations with exciting formats, and a bunch of shows that saw the dreams of sixties and seventies liberation realized – television started showing a more realistic portrayal of real life. Gone were the Donna Reeds and Carol Bradys, replaced with working moms, single dads, and confused, misbehaving kids. We found out that the public enjoys getting a peek at what cops and doctors do, and we also learned that grownups still like cartoons. Music television might have stolen the decade, but 80s TV was good entertainment all around.
The Rubiks Cube came out of nowhere. One day, you’d never seen such a thing and the next day, everybody had one. Year after year, new variations came out – a little Rubik’s Cube you could put on your key chain, a big one for extra puzzling, and a whole rainbow of colors and hues to choose from. It was the ultimate in 80s toys!
We Loved Rubiks Cube
The Rubiks Cube is a mechanical puzzle – a cube that you twist and turn. Each of the six sides of a Rubiks Cube are colored with nine little stickers. Traditionally, these were red, blue, white, yellow, green, and orange, but eventually there were variations on the colors. Spin the cube to mix up the colors, and then try to align them all again.
It’s totally harder than it looks, people.
The toy was named after its inventor, Erno Rubik, who was a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture. He licensed his puzzle to Ideal Toys in 1980 and Rubiks Cube quickly became one of the biggest and longest lasting 80s fads. The Rubiks Cube was even the subject of a patent lawsuit in the early 80s, and cheap knockoffs of the Rubiks Cube have been showing up on sales racks for almost three decades.
Long Live 80s Toys
To date, over 350 million of these 80s toys have been sold, and that makes Rubiks Cube the number one selling puzzle of all time. Some say it’s not only the biggest selling puzzle, but the bestselling toy as well.
Rubiks Cube hails as the king of 80s toys and the mother of 80s fads.
Even today, almost 30 years after Rubiks Cube first hit the market, speedcubers still compete in championships to see who can solve the puzzle fastest. Meanwhile, the rest of us are just trying to solve it.
The standard Rubiks Cube is a 3x3x3 cube. However, variations go up to a 7x7x7 (for cubemasters) and down to a 2×2 (for the little ones). The beloved cube has inspired tons of similar puzzles (often called twisty puzzles), with all different sizes and shapes and even a few that actually change shape (like Rubiks Snake). Word even has it that Mr. Rubik is releasing a brand new puzzle in the summer of 2009, and Rubiks Cube fans await with great anticipation.
Long Live 80s Fads
Today there are tons of variations on the Rubiks Cube, which means that 80s fads live on, just like we 80s people always knew they would. You can get cubes with your favorite sports teams, globe-shaped cubes, and even cubes with your own personal photos instead of the colored stickers.
Like all 80s fads, Rubiks Cube inspired books, t-shirts, and a host of other items. Can’t solve your Rubiks Cube? Get The Simple Solution to Rubik’s Cube and you’ll be twisting your cube to solution in no time.
Rubiks Cube is probably the best of all the 80s fads and it’s definitely the number one among 80s toys. It’s outlasted many other fads and toys (go on, try to buy a brand new Atari) and has outsold pretty much all of them. Now we’ll just wait and see what Mr. Rubik has in store for us next.