To be broadcast on BBC Two in October, the multi-award winning journalist and author Dylan Jones celebrates the towering influence of the music of the 80s, with an aim to inspire a newfound respect for this maligned musical era.
He’ll argue that the 80s is one of the most inventive periods of pop culture – a kaleidoscopic display of musical experimentation in which genres were born and evolved with dizzying rapidity – and that whilst music continues to fascinate to this day, it will never be as varied as it was then.
The programme features contributions from Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, Jazzie B, Trevor Horn, Bananarama’s Sara Dallin & Keren Woodward, Gary Kemp, Mark Moore, Cookie Crew’s Cookie Pryce and Suzie Q, Bobby Gillespie, UB40’s Ali Campbell & Astro, The Fall’s Brix Smith, Sarah Jane Morris and more.
Lorna Clarke, BBC Controller, Pop, says: “I’m delighted that we’re going to dissect the impact and influence of the 80s decade, culturally – an experimental period of time that divides opinions hugely.”
Dylan Jones says: “Interminable television programmes still suggest the whole episode was nothing but a calamitous mistake, a cultural cul-de-sac full of rotten records by shameful individuals with orange skin and espadrilles. I’m here to tell you this couldn’t be further off the mark.”
In the first episode, against a colourful background of archive from the BBC vaults and beyond, Dylan sets out his claim: that the 80s was the most creative musical decade ever. He’ll assert that the 80s, unlike other decades, was undefinable by monolithic musical movements such as punk, disco or Britpop, and unleashed a myriad of new musical genres in just 10 years. To support his theory, he’ll hear from some of the leading musicians and producers of the era, who were at the forefront of the incredibly diverse music creation.
Speaking in the programme, Nile Rodgers says: “The 80s was the pinnacle for a lot of us musicians who had come from the 60s and the 70s. Reaching that place you had this great explosion of artistry in the 80s that ran the gamut.”
Keren Woodward from Bananarama says: “You’d hear something and think, oh that’s Bananarama, that’s Culture Club, that’s Duran Duran – and everyone looked their own way as well.”
Episodes two, three and four will feature a mixture of archive performance and music video, handpicked by Dylan, which explore themes including the MTV generation (artists who benefitted from being ‘super-produced’); the birth of hip hop, the emergence of house and the rise of the rebels, who deliberately eschewed all they believed to be ostentatiously 80s.
Some of the artists explored in the series include Madonna, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, The Sugarhill Gang, Public Enemy, Bronski Beat and Erasure.