Sometimes at work when conversations about what we watched on TV the night before start to dwindle, we start asking each other random questions like, “If you could buy just one song from iTunes, what would it be?” or “What’s one movie you never ever want to see again?” Or more recently, “What’s your favorite decade?”
I’ve known a lot of girls who have answered “the 1950s” because of the fashion or “the 1920s” because of the illegal drinking of alcohol. And at times I have agreed with them. 1950s dresses were adorable, and I’m pretty sure alcohol tastes better when it’s forbidden. But when it comes down to it, there’s only one decade in the history of the world I can truly say was the best. The awesomest. The freshest. The wickedest. Yes, my friends, I am talking about The Decade of Decadence. The Decade of Greed. The Decade of Popped Collars and Fashion Plates.
I’m talking about the 1980s.
I can easily stand behind my decision because unlike those other equally interesting decades, I actually lived through the 80s. That’s a pretty beg deal, considering about a billion Facebook users today were born after 1990. And I feel bad for them because while they may think that wearing leg warmers and bangles and off-the-shoulder sweatshirts are cool now, they never got to experience how cool it was to wear them when they were cool for the first time. Today’s teens are just wearing recycled fashion from a decade they can only read about in history books.
When it came to pop culture, the 80s were so choice. So let’s take a moment here to recognize the decade that brought us Martha Quinn, Punky Brewster, and Big Red gum. Just sit back…and relax.
There’s no denying that some kick-ass tunes came from the 80s. From Madonna to George Michael, Michael Jackson to Prince, some of my favorite songs came out before I was even ten years old. I officially started listening to music in 1988 when I was nine and my dad got me this thing called a “compact disc” from this place called “Columbia House”. He had to order a minimum number of CDs to become a member, and when he asked me what I wanted, I pointed to this:
Thus began my obsession with music. I was young, so of course I loved Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Paula Abdul, and New Kids on the Block. Not considered to be the best music that came out of the 80s, but influential to me all the same. Here’s my top ten faves in 80s music by year:
1980 – “Rock With You” – Michael Jackson (and we gonna ride the boogie)
1981 – “Jessie’s Girl” – Rick Springfield (where can I find a woman like that?)
1982 – “Mickey” – Toni Basil (cause when you say you will, it always mean you won’t)
1983 – “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – Bonnie Tyler (we’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks)
1984 – “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” – Wham! (you make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day)
1985 – “Take On Me” – a-ha (it’s no better to be safe than sorry)
1986 – “Walk Like An Egyptian” – The Bangles (Ay oh whey oh, ay oh whey oh)
1987 – “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” – Whitney Houston (Don’tcha wanna dance? Say you wanna dance! Don’tcha wanna dance?)
1988 – “Sweet Child O’ Mine” – Guns ‘n’ Roses (guitar riff)
1989 – “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” – New Kids on the Block (I’ll be loving yoooooooooou)
“They just don’t make movies like they used to.” We’ve all heard that saying, and when people say it they’re usually talking about the 80s. I’m not saying that great movies didn’t come out in the 1990s or 2000s, because there were plenty. But there’s just something so simple and ridiculous about 80s movies that makes them classics. They’re like comfort food or a hot cup of tea and roaring fire. They just make you feel good.
Like Jake Ryan.
Comedies ruled the 1980s. The reason why I’m not a huge fan of comedies these days is because they just don’t make me laugh the way they did back in the day. Were things just funnier in the 80s? I think they might have been. Take Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for example. Hilarious, and part of my all-time Dirtop ten. John Hughes just knew what was funny without going overboard, and the fact that he knew exactly what teenagers were like made that and all his movies strike a chord with everyone. That just doesn’t happen anymore, at least not to me.
The 80s also brought us great action movies and introduced us to Indiana Jones, Ewoks, and Maverick. Here are some of my top ten favorite movies from the 1980s, again by year!
1980 – “The Empire Strikes Back” (Who’s scruffy-looking?)
1981 – “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Wave it at anything that slithers.)
1982 – “E.T.” (I’ll believe in you all my life, everyday. E.T.)
1983 – “WarGames” (Let’s play Global Thermonuclear War.)
1984 – “The Karate Kid” (Get squish just like grape.)
1985 – “The Goonies” (That’s my mom’s most favorite piece!)
1986 – “Top Gun” (That’s right! Ice… man. I am dangerous.)
1987 – “Dirty Dancing” (God wouldn’t have given you maracas if He didn’t want you to shake ’em.)
1988 – “Cocktail” (Never show surprise, never lose your cool.)
1989 – “Batman” (Where does he get those wonderful toys?)
Since I spent the first ten years of my life in the 80s, toys were very important to me. It’s probably made me bias, but I think they’re waaaay better than toys nowadays. Kids only want fancy gadgets now. Back then we played with actual toys, and cool ones at that. Can you imagine a kid today spending a rainy afternoon poking holes into a piece of paper via the Lite Brite? Can you imagine the look on some kid’s face when you show him an Atari? They would think you were totally nuts!
Luckily my daughter is the exception, because she’s 3 and she’s awesome. My mom saved all my toys from when I was kid and recently sent them all to me to give to her. And my daughter loves them. Granted she’s three and doesn’t have friends to compare toys with, but it’s so cool to see her having so much fun with my old Care Bears, My Little Ponies, and Strawberry Shortcake dolls. I know that there are new versions of all that in stores now, but they don’t really compare to the originals, am I right?
Toys from the 80s will always be near and dear to my heart, only because it represents my childhood. Here are some of my faves that I will always place high above any toy that comes out today:
1. Cabbage Patch Kid (Mine was born on November 2 and her name was Ann Maureen).
2. Barbie (who will always have way better clothes than me)
3. Strawberry Shortcake (Blueberry Muffin was my favorite)
4. Glo-Worms (because I love bugs with faces and top-hats)
5. My Little Pony (I loved braiding their tails)
6. Care Bears (the movie made me cry)
7. Rainbow Brite (she had a freaking star on her cheek, simply because she was awesome)
8. Pound Puppies (they made me so sad with their droopy eyes)
9. Jem (duh…she was a rock star)
10. Rose Petal Place (she was a flower!!!!)
I wasn’t really into fashion in the 80s, to be honest. Nor was I in the 90s, for that matter. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m still not that into fashion, despite what I may do for a living. The extent of my “fashion” was twelve different colors of stirrup pants and sweaters with snowflakes on them. But the 80s were definitely full of fashion trends, and to ignore them would be like turning a back on a friend.
Hair was big, jeans were stonewashed, and t-shirts were oversized. What made people think they looked hot is still a bit of a mystery. Then again, it was the 80s, and girls just wanted to have fun. And fun meant piling on blue eyeshadow and snapping on that banana clip. Which should totally come back, by the way.
Whether people like it or not, 80s fashion is back in a big way. Here are some top trends that you just might see back in stores this coming year:
1. Shoulder pads (they’ll make you look like a monster)
2. Mini Skirts (especially with leggings if you lived in the tundra called Minnesota)
3. Leg Warmers (I really did wear mine to dance class. And while sledding.)
4. Huge earrings (they had to touch your shoulder)
5. Fingerless Gloves (aren’t your fingers still cold though????)
6. Parachute Pants (don’t attempt jumping out of a plane while wearing them, though)
7. Stirrup Pants (very handy while ice-skating because they didn’t ride up)
8. Oversized Tops (to cover up the muffin top from the low-rise jeans)
9. Jellies (my feet would get ridiculously sweaty in those things)
10. Slap Bracelets (these are banned now, thanks to my generation. Ha!)
Now, I’m sure there are some people out there willing to argue that the 1980s was far from being the greatest. But if you were a kid during that time, I can bet you that you’ll probably be on my side. And that’s because humans are a nostalgic people, and we tend to love whatever it is that reminds us of our childhood. The 80s was my childhood, and to me it remains to be the greatest decade in the history of the world.