As highly revered and aesthetically sought-after as the 1980s era can be, there obviously still has been some absolutely heinous cultural output from that time. For every Van Halen there were handfuls of dime-a-dozen hair metal bands whose inability to innovate in even the slightest sense is well on par with 90% of adolescent Christian metalcore of today (watch "The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years" and tell me Odin doesn't mimic the kind of turds you see on the bill at Warped Tour nowadays).
But this isn't about how much hair metal sucked or how stale breakdowns and v-necks have gotten, no sir. What I'd really like to get at is the undeniable fact that nearly everyone knows of and possibly enjoys a song or two by synth-y, new wave bands like New Order, Joy Division, Depeche Mode, or Industry, but to legitimately soak up the remainder of those bands' discography (or, heaven forbid, lesser known acts of the same genre and era) is seemingly unheard of.
I'll be the first to admit that not everything by the aforementioned groups is necessarily audible gold, especially in cases where a particular artist's career was lengthy and/or prolific. Despite the amount of seemingly timeless works created by New Order, for every "Blue Monday" or "True Faith" there are several tracks that have aged like a gallon of chocolate milk left open on Mike Tyson's Southington, Ohio mansion driveway. I mean some of these shits sound DATED, FECAL-LIKE IN TEXTURE and generally UNPALATABLE.
Yes, I know those synths at times can sound like garbage because they're older than I am. Plus, I've read Disco Bloodbath, I GET IT THAT EVERYONE WAS BI AND ON KETAMINE AND LIKED TO PUT WEIRD OBJECTS INTO ASSORTED ORIFII while listening to this stuff. Having been thoroughly primed on what sort of insanity could be had in the dance/club scene during the majority of the 80s and early 90s, the picture becomes far clearer as to where the aesthetics of electronic and new wave music fit in. Today we have come to the grim, quasi-unfortunate realization that the Club Kids are in jail, Boy George is no longer fabulous, and that synthesized horns will sound like a goat's ass more often than not.
Take an 80s synth-pop group like Industry. Dudes squeezed out one hit, one album, and the drummer looks like a rat. Well, maybe not a straight-up rat, per say, but his facial features are rather rodent-like. Regardless of rodential resemblance, the Filipinos Fuckin loved these guys. These days, you could probably get away with queuing up their single "State of the Nation" at a house party, but any attempt at diverging to the rest of their repertoire is pretty much guaranteed to send even the most horrendously dressed of hipster skanks into a giggling, finger-pointing fit. BELIEVE DAT, I DUN SEENT IT!
As you are well aware, this column wouldn't be called Laugh At What I Love if I didn't have some sort of inane obsession with with the subject matter at hand. In recent years, I've formed what appears to be a somewhat bulbous and inflamed appreciation for this particular genre of music. For many, it is a common conception that those with embarrassing and/or guilty pleasures get divided into two camps:
Camp #1 - Grown manchildren whose inability to discover, let alone process, media produced outside the comfort level of their childhood cognitive capacity (see: Disney films, video game music, virtually any pop song from 1998).
Camp #2 - Individuals who have independently picked up interest in shit so contradictory to their regular fare that it comes off as out-of-line.
As much as I'd like to distance myself from the former bunch, I'll steadfastly admit I am exempt from neither group. I have come to really dig into and find appreciation for even the non-hits of the 80s synthesizer-induced mania. I still love the wonkyness and primitive experimentation with sequencing and analog electronics. I never thought I'd find myself entranced by a tune that legitimately resembles the shitty menu music on a Sega Genesis game, but, alas, here I am.