| 03.21.2018

Big hair revival – An ode to the comeback of 1980s pop in modern indie


There are a few trends in music that need to stop. These include using hashtags in song titles, lyrics about burning up dance floors and Drake singing about his cell phone.

Yet, one growing trend that is more than welcome in my book is the recurring use of the ’80s  in modern indie music. And not only is indie bringing the romantic synth vibes, but this trend is even being seen in some popular radio hits as well.

Lyndsie Kiebert

There are several reasons this trend is worth celebrating.

The following is a shameless plug for the extremely talented and Michael Jackson-esque, The Weeknd.

Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, his stage name The Weeknd, had the year of his career in 2015 as his contribution to the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack, “Earned It,” caught fire thanks to his sultry voice and the movie”s ridiculous popularity. Singles slowly leaked preceding his summer release of “Beauty Behind the Madness,” and the true magic of The Weeknd became clear to me.

Through hits like “Can”t Feel My Face” and “The Hills,” The Weeknd”s ability to mix addicting beats and lyrics without completely succumbing to the pressures of the overplayed melodies of the current radio hits shone through, and in “In The Night” his retro vibes excel. No one can resist a little MJ in their lives, and The Weeknd”s ability to modernize that classic sound got me thinking about how often this is happening and how little it is being appreciated.

While the term “80s pop sounds” might seem a little abstract, anyone knows them when they hear them. It”s the throbbing beats overlain with a breathy voice, a little synth keyboard combined with a simple rock drumbeat. Bands like St. Lucia and Twin Shadow are bringing it back. It”s not EDM, but it”s still dance music, and somehow the effect is Cyndi Lauper meets Eddie Money with that laid back, modern indie vibe we”ve grown to expect from today”s budding artists.

And this is occurring across the musical spectrum – not just in dance music. Grace Mitchell”s “Runaway” is soft but nonetheless belongs in a Molly Ringwald movie, and ADHDS”s “Katy” made me check to make sure my Spotify”s Discover Weekly feature wasn”t randomly throwing it back to 1983 – it wasn”t, and I discovered a totally killer upcoming indie band with synth vibes perfect for any occasion.

I”m not sure how it works so well. It”s not like I”m nostalgic for big hair or jelly bracelets or Madonna music videos, and I highly doubt anyone else in their early 20s is either. But according to what bands like Walk The Moon and HAIM are producing, there”s a demand – and I am a proud proponent of it.

Lyndsie Kiebert can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @lyndsie_kiebert

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