Worst year in music

Published March 15, 2011

So, I was reading this blog post, which argues against that old, mouldy idea that the period between Elvis going into the army and The Beatles' arrival on the music scene was a lost era in popular music. In his blog post, journalist Gene Sculatti focuses on the year 1960 and argues convincingly that it in fact offered a bunch of great music. I'm sure this is true of every year, although perhaps some 12-month-periods are a little more magical than others. One of my favourite years, for instance, is 1966: The Beatles' Revolver album; The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds; Motown at the peak of their powers; and so on.

I can tell you right away which period I personally consider the worst in 20th Century popular music: the mid-Eighties, circa 1983-1987. Certainly, there was a lot of good music made during that period as well (by The Smiths; Scritti Politti; Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, just to name a few off the top of my head). But in terms of mainstream music - that awful production aesthetic with all those fat sounds and biiiig drums and few if any nuances - it was the dark ages as far as I'm concerned.

I think no other song sums up this terrible era better for me than the 1984 single The Wild Boys by Duran Duran. A lot of shouting and overblown gestures, but nothing but a big, hollow emptiness inside. This song was a No 2 hit in both the UK and the US, ladies and gentlemen - it fair boggles the mind. Serves you right to be tied to a windmill and getting your hair wet repeatedly, Mr Le Bon!