The 1980s Music Report

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In 1981 MTV "Music Television" was introduced on cable television and revolutionized rock marketing. Just as FM radio had superseded the hit-oriented AM format, music videos, produced as mini-movie advertisements for songs, became essential to a performer's popularity. Early in the decade, the British group the Police was one of the first to combine a progressive sound with polished videos. The expense of producing videos and MTV's virtual monopoly made it difficult for experimental music to compete with the dance-pop sung by American artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston, and Madonna, and the British groups Duran Duran and Depeche Mode. Nevertheless, performers such as the Irish group U2 and the American group R.E.M. emerged from their underground roots to enjoy enormous success. Now a few of the new genres of the 80's. In the early 1980s, the "new wave" movement, a sub genre of punk rock that began in the '70s, was generating a more sophisticated pop sound. In Britain, artists including bands such as the Clash, Squeeze, and the Police attained both critical and commercial acceptance. The Pretenders, another British band established in the late ‘70s, was led by an American-born singer and songwriter, Chrissie Hynde. In the United States, the Los Angeles-based band X navigated the transition from punk to new wave, and the New York-based group Talking Heads with a big assist from MTV, succeeded in fusing art rock with funk and African rhythms. Which leads me to my next new 80's genre. In 1979, the album Rapper's Delight by the American group the Sugar Hill Gang moved rap music (a rhyming, rapidly spoken word form of black dance music)from the clubs of New York City to the national scene. Rap was assimilated into popular culture through such mainstream artists as the performer M.C. Hammer, the group Run-D.M.C, and rapper-actor Will Smith , the "Fresh Prince" of the duo D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. One of the first controversial rap hits was the hip-hop song "The Message" by the rap group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Despite its contreveries, rap was terrible to young white males and was imitated by many white American groups, including Blondie and the Beastie Boys; it was combined with hard rock in the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and other groups. By the late 1980s, rap had replaced rock as the most popular music of social commentary (not something all of us would agree with).

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