DIAGNOSIS: A dangerous precedent in pop music’s history — the love of imagery over substance in the ’80s.
ILLNESS: A nostalgia overload from Gen-Xers who love the 1980s like Webster loved Mr. and Mrs. Papadapolis, and who are prone to mesmerization by things such as the aerodynamic hairstyle of Mike Score of Flock of Seagulls fame, the one Donald Trump seems to emulate.
SYMPTOMS: A glassy-eyed, awed-mouth look every time VH1 announces its latest excuse to showcase the ’80s (a look often confused for the “yuppie gaze” upon Starbucks openings, worshiped by the same generation), incessant eBay orders of authentic He-Man figures, Rubik’s cubes, Pogo balls and worst of all, the director’s cut DVD of The Big Chill, starring Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Kline and Glenn Close.
PRESCRIPTION: Serious bands existed in the ’80s; most notable, yet most over-looked, is Beat Happening. It’s amazing how so many catchy songs never find radio play (Lemonheads, anyone?). Beat Happening was more un-’80s than most ’90s grunge bands, and influenced Nirvana and The Vaselines. Other bands, such as Violent Femmes, Descendants and Klaus Nomi, who found fame in their own individual spheres, are also unique to the ’80s aesthetic.
PROGNOSIS: Go ahead and buy Crashing Through, the complete set of Beat Happening albums. You can be the first kid on your block to champion Beat Happening as saviors of the airbrushed decade, instead of the usual suspects.