Band Session II 2022: Back to the 80s

GO Back to the 80s with Bird School of Music

The 80s might seem like ancient history to our students (and probably even to some of your parents), but it’s history worth studying: Buried under the poppy synthesizers and big hair that define the decade in stereotypes, we’ll find some innovative and influential music from a variety of genres.

Music in the 80s wasn’t just a different sound from previous decades – the tools used to make it were changing. Electronic synthesizers and drum machines, with their pre-sets and ability to sample and tweak sounds, expanded the way music was made and the sounds a band – or even a single person – could produce.

While we might immediately think of synth-heavy pop acts like Wham! and Cyndi Lauper when we picture the 80s music scene, the same tools were allowing rap and hip-hop artists like Run DMC and Salt-N-Pepa to burst into the mainstream. And guitar-driven-rock like Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen continued to expand, while the rise of the cassette tape, with its ability to easily reproduce albums and create cherry-picked mixes, spread the rich music scenes of college towns like Athens, Georgia to new audiences.

As we dig into 80s music, we’ll discover artists from a variety of styles taking advantage of digital tools to take their music forward. And we’ll learn how artists today are still drawing on 80s influences, from instrument choices and sampling to all-out covers like Weezer’s Teal Album And, of course, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” (1985) is having a moment now because of the orchestral version featured in “Stranger Things.”

Everything old is new again

We put together a playlist of iconic 80s songs on Spotify to get you started, but if you need even more inspiration, check out these 21st century bands covering 80s hits:

  • My Chemical Romance (2005) covering the Queen/David Bowie collab “Under Pressure” (1981)
  • Pop punk band All Time Low’s (2013) spin on Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” (1986)
  • Avril Lavigne’s true-to-the-original remake (2011) of “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (1980)
  • Reel Big Fish’s (1998) ska punk cover of “Take On Me” by a-ha (1985)
  • No Doubt (2003) having a bigger hit with “It’s My Life” than Talk Talk did (1984)
  • Muse (2019) covering Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” (1982)
  • Franz Ferdinand’s (2008) take on “Call Me” by Blondie (1980)
  • Fall Out Boy (with John Mayer) (2008) shredding through Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” (1982)

And these 80s bands covering music from the 60s and 70s:

  • Soft Cell’s (1983) cover of Gloria Jones’ (1964) “Tainted Love
  • That Blondie (1980) song you didn’t even know was a cover of “The Tide Is High” by The Paragons (1967)
  • Echo & the Bunnymen’s (1987) take on The Doors’ “People are Strange” (1967)
  • The Pet Shop Boys (1987) cover of “Always on My Mind,” which Elvis Presley made famous in 1973

Are you ready to rock?

Important Dates:

Start date: November 7, 2022
End date: January 29, 2023
(10 Weeks)
Dress Rehearsal: January 27, 2023
Show: January 29, 2023

– Thanksgiving, 11/24-11/25/22
– Winter Break, 12/22/22-1/3/23

Songs to explore:

Listen to these songs and more 80s hits on our Spotify playlist.

  • Come on Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners
  • Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles
  • Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
  • Take on Me – a-ha
  • Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham!
  • I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2
  • Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics
  • Hey Mickey – Toni Basil
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
  • It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – R.E.M.
  • Walking on Sunshine – Katrina and the Waves
  • Walk This Way – Run DMC
  • We Got the Beat – The Go-Gos
  • Back in Black – AC/DC
  • Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds
  • Whip It – Devo
  • 1999 – Prince
  • Material Girl – Madonna
  • Blue Monday – New Order
  • Rock Lobster – B-52s

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