'80s songs bring back memories

It's sad when beer commercials actually mirror reality.

No, not the ones where an everyday, normal guy pops open a can and buxom blonde women appear out of nowhere, making the obvious connection between cheap American beer and guaranteed sex.

The kind that seem to reflect life, at least college life, a little too closely are the ones where a bunch of twentysomething kids are hanging out playing the childhood trivia. The topics include deep subjects like television shows, which "Brady Bunch" sister was the hottest babe, and whether or not Starsky and Hutch could beat up Bo and Luke Duke.

These conversations occur everywhere. Even in the newsroom we get heavily involved in trying to figure out which ABBA song was unjustly left off their greatest hits album, and we guess how well off Lionel Richie is now that he's faded into obscurity.

The Go Go's have reunited, Adam Ant is desperately trying to remind us he's still alive, and I'm waiting for Spandeau Ballet to make a comeback.

Besides the blatant profit most of these people (think "The Eagles") are trying to make off the '80s music resurgence, why are these defunct groups reemerging?

I enjoy cheesy '80s music as much as the next person, but why? Are we trying to recapture some lost paradise of childhood, now that we're on the brink of adulthood? And shouldn't we be intelligent enough by now to figure out that Howard Jones was not the most talented keyboardist around? Face it, a lot of the music of our youth just plain sucked.

That doesn't make our generation unusual, and like years of music before ours, the good stuff will rise to the top and the rest will be relegated to garage sale bins, to be rescued with cries of "I remember that song. That was when I ." I got darn excited when I found a Haircut One Hundred tape in the bargain bin at a mall music store, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

We're slipping into the "back in the good ol' days" mode we detest in our elders. We think "our" music is better than the schlock produced today, when it's probably the same, just with better synthesizers now.

But '80s music is important to us because of association.

I will always like Dead or Alive because I remember playing "Brand New Lover" when I called some hapless guy to break up with him in high school. Cruel, but he was a jerk and I didn't think he'd get the joke anyway.

Depeche Mode churned out some teen anthems. "Blasphemous Rumors" seemed to be a deep, philosophical expression of my eighth grade confusion, and "Somebody" was the wistful ballad of the kind love that maybe, just maybe, I'd find. I can still remember all the words, and it makes me melancholy remembering lonely angst.

My friend in St. Louis played "Somebody" at her wedding reception as the first dance for the new couple. The parents thought it was a bit odd, but it was fitting. Junior high, grown up.

Listening to that tape again, adolescence comes back as clear as yesterday. I certainly hope the time I put in at Kirkwood High School aren't the happiest years of my life, but diving back into '80s music and trivia at least takes me back to a time when the most pressing problem was getting the high school newspaper out on deadline, and hoping we didn't get kicked out of Denny's that weekend.

That wasn't true for everyone, and it wasn't necessarily true at the time either. People had very real problems in high school, but somehow time has a way of helping those fade into the distance.

Especially in the face of impending graduation. Real life looms ahead of us, and it's not going away. For instance, I have to find a job (you Conservatives will be rid of me soon, don't worry) and figure out what I'm supposed to be doing in real life.

The juxtaposition of circumstances songs illustrate are telling.

I remember hearing Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" on the car radio with my mom, turning bright red and being absolutely mortified. But now I have to deal with the realities of sexual politics and violence as an adult, and I realized what a double-edged sword sex can be. Before, I just thought it was a fuzzy, embarrassing concept, but now I know it can be dangerous.

It's natural to want to return to a simpler time, when the world appeared easier to understand and navigate. All the '80s compilations in the universe won't make life easier, but at least we can pretend for three drum-machined minutes at a time.

Sarah Garrecht is the Wildcat editor in chief and a journalism senior.

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