In the 80s we were blessed with singers and bands that wanted to say something more than “I love you and you broke my heart”. Thatcher was in power, the Cold War was raging and it seemed nuclear armageddon was on the horizon. It wasn’t just the cool indie kids and frazzled old rockers who wanted to tell us about it though. The pop charts were reflecting the times. Heaven 17’s Fascist Groove Thang flirted with the charts in 1981, but lack of airplay meant a late lyric change (on the radio promo only) was too late to propel it upwards, although the song seems even more important now than ever before. Radio stations did start to reflect the feeling of the times though and suddenly songs such as
The Specials Ghost Town and OMD’s Enola Gay were riding high. A great social commentary dressed up with a catchy hook was the way forward. Others that will always seem relevant to us pop kids are FGTH Two Tribes, Paul Hardcastle’s 19, The Special AKA’s Free Nelson Mandela and even The Human League’s The Lebanon, often ridiculed but at least they had the balls to release it as a single. Which brings me to my point really. The massive audiences and reach todays popstars have could awaken the minds of many, but it’s not a good career move. Keep the cash rolling in singing about love, sex and money. Easy street.Todays popstars don’t really write songs anymore, but that’s another story.