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Boy, George, you can't be much of a chameleon in that hat
Do you really want to hear this?

Bands of the 1980s profiting from retro fever

Web posted on: Friday, September 04, 1998 6:19:03 PM

NEW YORK (CNN) -- It was the best of times, or it was the worst of times, depending on who you talk to. The music was awesome; the music was also gag-you-with-a-spoon cheesy.

We're talking, of course, about the 1980s, and regardless of whether you loved or hated the music, it's back.

"And I ran, I ran so far away" (probably after seeing this guy's haircut)

Pass the dutchie on the left hand side

This past year has borne witness to the latest retro-revival of pop cultures past, this one involving all those songs that made the '80s, well, the '80s. And the 1990s aren't even over yet.

Perhaps the Me Decade nostalgia got started with the release of last year's romantic comedy, "The Wedding Singer," which starred Adam Sandler as a 1980s guy who finds love in a material world. The soundtracks to the film, both of them, have been selling like Rubik's Cube did back in 1982.

And now this summer, several '80s bands toured the country in concerts of nostalgic proportions.

"In the '60s everybody wanted to be the Beatles or the Stones, in the '70s there were bands everybody tried to emulate, like Led Zeppelin. And I think in the '80s you had lots of bands that had quite individual sounds," Culture Club's Boy George explains as the reason for the revival. His band played several concerts with Human League this summer in a tour entitled "'80s Rewind."

A simpler time: Remember Rio dancing on the sand?

'Everyone was just so happy'

Also touring together recently: The Pretenders and the B-52s, two bands that released some of their biggest hits back when people wore big hair and flaunted designer jeans.

Radio stations across the country have been dedicating hours to playing that old-time rock 'n' pop generated after the music world moved away from the late-1970s disco and punk era.

"Everyone was just so happy to be free of this big dark cloud that had been punk, and to just let it rip and let the colors out and have some fun," says Simon Le Bon, the lead singer of that 1980s symbol of MTV, Duran Duran. "It was just fantastic."

"The Wedding Singer" was no "Thriller," but it cashed in on '80s nostalgia

'80s tribute albums

Speaking of Duran Duran, contemporary bands have made a tribute to the band, covering their songs on a new album.

The same honor is being bestowed on Depeche Mode. "We were very lucky and have been fortunate to be able to record a lot of albums over this period of time, and to still be current and making music," says David Gahan of Depeche Mode.

Billy Corgan, whose band Smashing Pumpkins contributed to the Depeche Mode tribute, applauds the return of the '80s sound.

"A lot of great music got easily dismissed because the baby boomers threw their weight around and we had to listen to Motown 'til our ears bled," Corgan says.

Depeche Mode: "It's about rehashing old ideas and trying to make some money out of it, basically"

'It's about rehashing old ideas'

"I think the time has gone by now in such a way that people are realizing that the '80s was really a great time for pop music," says singer Howard Jones.

Billboard's Melinda Newman recognizes the '80s sound as a chord worth playing again.

"With the '80s you saw almost another 'British invasion.' You saw a tremendous number of acts coming over who were very fun, but they brought something that we hadn't seen here in a while," says Newman. "I mean, you didn't have a Boy George happening every day."

But Depeche Mode's Gahan admits perhaps the most popular reason for the nostalgia.

"It's about rehashing old ideas and trying to make some money out of it, basically," Gahan says.

As the character Gordon Gekko said in the 1987 film "Wall Street," "Greed is good."

Ah, the '80s. Art and commerce, together again.

Correspondent Mark Scheerer contributed to this report.

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