Life seemed so much simpler in the '80s, and for me at least, our music and how we listened to it reflected that. The day after my senior prom, my friends and I gathered at a local beach and cranked up our boom boxes. Let me be clear: the music that came flooding out of those speakers is nothing I'm proud of. I know some of my teen counterparts were exploring edgy underground bands, but my suburban friends and I were happy not to stray too far beyond the constraints of straight-up pop and rock. We listened to what was on the radio and what the local DJs spun at school dances. We didn't know any different, and now those songs are part of our collective memories, like it or not.
You didn't need to look beyond tracks like "Footloose," "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Let's Hear It for the Boy" to understand the depths of our naïveté. Meanwhile, Van Halen, Billy Idol, Madonna and Duran Duran represented teen rebellion, 1984-style at least to us. Pop stars were more like friends back then and it was easy enough to imagine hanging out with Huey Lewis, Pat Benatar, Lionel Richie or The Go-Go's.
But even in this sheltered, whitewashed world, there was a cutting edge. Acts like Prince, The Thompson Twins, The Eurythmics and Culture Club left us dumbfounded by what we thought of as their outrageous looks, but it didn't stop us from buying their albums and singing along.
Even those reluctant to jump on the nostalgia bandwagon have to admit there's something to be said for a time when Michael Jackson was cool (as opposed to creepy), and talk of a Police reunion was just that (the trio's hiatus was only weeks old at that point). Sure, we played ballads like Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" with a straight face, but we were 17. We also thought the careers of Corey Hart and Wang Chung were on the rise. Ah, youth!