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When We Tried To Bring The Electronic 80s into 2015PositronWildhawk The 80s in 2015 wasn't just a Back to the Future thing, it was a mainstream music thing. With Uptown Funk claiming to bring the sound of the 80s back, and being in the charts practically all year, it is completely understandable that even the people who liked it when it was new are now sick to the back teeth of it. That was certainly true of me.
I rarely enjoy chart music, but Uptown Funk was one track which I will admit I did. It was very different from every other massive chart hit of the year, for a start, and it was funky, catchy, and I even played it on a loop at one point. But it just isn't a classic. There's nothing wrong with the sound of the track, but it's not actually as unique as it claims to be. The only reason people say it is unique is because the last time music like it was in the media, half of it was behind an Iron Curtain. Throwing together elements of another decade will draw some attention and some money in, but it just won't make a masterpiece. Especially not if the meaning of the song isn't anything special or thought-provoking either. Popular electronic chart songs in the 1980s were a lot more diverse, sometimes a lot more meaningful; even some of the fame-driven music acts would have a different sound with every new track, and some were even about important issues of the time; it's sad that not everyone appreciates that. And even with those weapons of false nostalgia out of the picture, it is, deep down, just another pop song. If it were met simply with heavy autotune, it would blend in with Bang Bang and Love Me Like You Do. So this was a feeble attempt to make something outside the box. Dig a lot deeper.
But hope is not lost. This March, I downloaded Man Without Country's Maximum Entropy. MWC have always had a retro-80s vibe to their music, with dark and symphonic synth beatings and slowly evolving drum machine patterns, but with this album, they made something somehow better than they have before. Laws of Motion is the album's and the group's best track, and it's one of few tracks of 2015 that I find myself continuously coming back to. If you listened to this track, you would indeed think it was from thirty years ago, and my parents thought that too when I first played it. But unlike Uptown Funk, it doesn't rely on an era-related gimmick to make it stand out; it really executes the sound beautifully. Instead of throwing things together to make a track, it makes a fluid and dynamic contrast of most, but not too many factors in the mix. It has the synth in line with the beat to make a deep retro echoing, and it contrasts with the high and yet soul-reminiscent vocals, possibly covering notes unknown to some, singing unexampled poetry about how wanting happiness can mean wanting to achieve the impossible, and at the same time being undone. Even the white noise in the first ten seconds of the track is incredible, and you'll know you'll love the track from start to finish. Some additional honourable mentions on this album include Entropy, a harsh and deep bass mixed with a radical fluctuating bounce, which goes onto another extreme against the laid back and smooth Loveless Marriage, and the dark and powerful Deliver Us From Evil. MWC's influences come from various pioneers, regardless of when they sound like they came from, but I think this album deserves the claim that Mark Ronson certainly didn't have the evidence to make.
So that's what you get when you dig deeper into music. There are acts of music out there that are more genuine and more innovative than the mainstream crowd, and also those who don't buy their way into the spotlight. We did bring the sound of the 1980's into 2015, but sadly, the majority of us don't know it.
See, even zoos enjoined uptown funk! - Therandom
Whoops, autocorrect made Pos zoos. - Therandom
This is why I find 2015 better than 2014 and 2013 in music. - visitor
At least we still have Jan Hammer. - RiverClanRocks
Great post - visitor