by Alex Cosper (12/31/12)
The 1984-1985 period was somewhat of a golden age for top 40 radio. Some of the most monumental albums ever made came from this period. Purple Rain by Prince is the first masterpiece that comes to mind. Other definitive work came from Bruce Springsteen, Yes, Van Halen, Simple Minds, Tears For Fears, Dire Straits, Huey Lewis & The News, Duran Duran and Whitney Houston.
The mid 80s projected a wide open terrain of music where anything creative was possible. "We Are The World" by USA For Africa was a huge selling benefit record following the success of "Do They Know It's Christmas" by Band Aid. The sound of worldbeat percussion became more prevalent in this era and could be felt in pop records by Steve Winwood, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and Wham!
During this era the importance of movie soundtracks grew enormously. Artists who benefitted from movie hits included Madonna, Phil Collins, Duran Duran and John Parr. MTV had become a huge force by this period that it now had the power to break hits. Janet Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Bananarama, The Bangles and Miami Sound Machine opened the door for females to dominate the charts.
By the mid 80s it was clear that techno pop was no longer outside the norm. In fact, it had become the norm. Some of the hits that defined the melodic synthesizer genre were "Take On Me" by Aha, "If You Leave" by OMD and "West End Girls" by The Pet Shop Boys. Depeche Mode and New Order were emerging as the leading pioneers in the art of electronic dance music.
A major phenomenon of throughout the decade was the surging popularity of Apple products. The iTunes Music Store signed online in 2003 and within a few years had overtaken Tower Records in sales. Tower had been in business since the early sixties but did not prepare to compete in the market of digital downloads and was overshadowed by iTunes. Tower, like many brick and mortar record stores, filed for bankruptcy in 2005.
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