After viewing countless reruns of I Love the 80s on television, it is almost a given that I’m going to go ahead and listen to some 80s synth pop, if only for nostalgia’s sake. So now that we know I have zero excuse for doing so because I haven’t seen an episode of I Love the 80s in at least a year, I think it’s safe to admit that I do enjoy stereotypical 80s synth pop all days of the week. Even the annoying classics like “Don’t You Forget About Me” and “Drive” and “Dance Hall Days” and any song by New Order or Pet Shop Boys or Alphaville. I don’t know why I like 80s synth pop so much; I just do. I like a whole lot of genres of music and “pop” doesn’t usually come into play, but 80s synth pop? Totally OK. It’s not logical, but it’s nice. It’s safe. It’s home.
Getting into a discussion on the merits (or lack thereof) of popular 80s compilations can leave one breathless. Compiling a list of some sixteen tracks of Forever Gold: The Best Songs from the 80s!! seems a bit ambitious: can we really sum up an entire decade in eighty minutes? Furthermore, how can one say one “loves 80s music!” which everyone somehow understands unspeakably refers to synth and maybe some new wave, but excludes most post punk, glam metal, and smooth jazz tracks from the same era. More illogics, but this time without reason; nothing can be reduced so simply. Or can it?
I’m not one to tout lowest common denominators and all (I don’t even like using this metaphor, for I am bad at math and still can’t do fractions without a calculator), but when I heard Yu Hayami’s “HEART wa Modorenai” I thought, “This is it. This song is an 80s pop compilation unto itself.” Truly.
Japanese pop acts are huge on taking influences from the West and magnifying each aspect to a ridiculous extent. Boy bands? They still have ‘em. Rappers? They think they are Dr. Dre. Hip Hop? Ms. Namie Amuro can glean more references to Britney Spears pre-Federline than Christina Aguilera. The influences cross borders of humans and often elope with musical genres, although there are some allowances for time; although Japan is years in advance in technology and fashion, some things take some time to gain popularity there. Like 80s synth pop, which worked its way well into 1994 and beyond. In 1987 Yu Hayami released “HEART wa Modorenai” which would never have even been brought to my attention had Ayumi Hamasaki not covered this song on a Japanese Star Search-esque performance in her teens, before she became fashion conscious and synonymous with “Jpop Queen.” This song is everything 80s. The electronic beats, the synth strums, and inundation of echoes and stylistic reverbs on the carry-overs; it all screams electronic keyboard gone postal. It’s like a seven year old receiving a karaoke machine on Christmas morning; she will sing the shit out of every single track that came with her first sing-alone CD and furthermore, the reverb effects? Switch every one on to its fullest amp. That’s what “HEART wa Modorenai” is. It is every 80s synth pop melody ever written times fifty. It is every digital effect used subtly in songs like “Opportunities (Let’s make lots of money)” and “Venus” used eight times in a row plus five. Simultaneously. Does that make sense? Fuck no, but I guess most 80’s pop culture doesn’t either. Pay close attention at 2:35 when she really breaks it down into classic 80s hip pop, needle scratching “dance time!”
There is no further need to buy 80s compilation CDs, just download this song. It is every cliched 80s synth pop song you have ever heard. This excludes post punk, some new wave, glam rock, metal, etc. But when I say “80s music,” that’s, like, totally a given, right?