In THE MUSIC SCENE I'll feature a particular year in music, a particular song/artist, and chronicle the progress of a group or solo artist through the Eighties. These features will be changed on a regular basis (every few months for the Featured Year and more frequently for the Featured Song/Artist and A Decade in the Life), so check back from time to time to see what's happening.
The 1980s was a decade of revolutionary changes on the music scene. The two major developments were the advent of MTV and the compact disc. Music became more diverse, with new wave, heavy metal, rap, techno pop, alternative rock and the "new" country sounds. And music became a huge marketing tool as filmmakers, TV producers and manufacturers of everything from sneakers to soft drinks used hit songs and hot performers to sell their products.
MTV was called "illustrated radio" and a "subliminal fashion show" by its detractors, who complained that it elevated image over music. Daryl Hall, of the pop duo Hall and Oates, said that "the visual has begun to overpower the music." But music videos revived an industry that was in decline in 1979, when revenues plunged 10% in a single year. Video dance clubs sprang up everywhere. Radio played a wider variety of music. Many artists acknowledged the impact of MTV on their careers; Duran Duran understood that their appeal depended on music video exposure. No artist surpassed Madonna in terms of taking advantage of the decade's image-based music revolution.
Tina Turner, U2
A Decade in the Life
The cover, track list, chart rankings and critics' comments for 81 of the year's albums.