80s pop music is something everyone knows. Or at least they pretend to know it. The mood, the sound… the smell. The 80s are still not TOO far from us. Even younger generations have a second hand experience of 80s pop music. From internet, TV, radio, parents. You know the drill. And that’s where the “news” hit us. 80S pop music is in now. Again. You can hear a couple of the well known traits in mainstream tunes. So what do you need to know to get THAT 80s sound? Let’s take a look at this.
80s pop music and what made it happen
It’s the effects: Effects are, and were used in every era. Even in the beginning of music recording. (Think horn mutes or acoustic resonators.) Every decade has its effects though. And 80s pop music has very recognizable ones. Lush digital reverb is one of them. Often overused. Because it was new and expensive. Chorus and flanger were all over the sounds, too. Many people think it’s for the sake of the obvious effect. The truth is, you can use them subtly. To stereoize mono tracks. Wow, hey? Digital delays just emerged as well. The clean, true repeats are awesome. Tiled room sounds, anyone? Harmonizers and exciters are worth mentioning, too. Way to retain that expensive high end. Without the tape hiss.
The synths made the 80s: In reality, synthesizers existed way before the eighties already. They just became cheaper and more available by then. So they kind of defined 80s pop music. Especially FM synths, like the Yamaha DX7. But the good analog ones were around too. Think Prophet V or Roland Jupiter 8. Nice, thick pads and leads. And yeah, the early sampler synths. Fairlight CMI or Synclavier. They were the predecessors of today’s DAWs. With a grainy sound and a bit harder to edit. But they helped turning pop music into a true industry. That, and drum machines.
80s pop music – what did they use?
Guitars and bass guitars rule: Yeah, electric guitars were in. Not only in hair metal. Long, compressed sustain. Thin strings. Like spider web. Floyd Rose whammy. Carbon fiber bodies. Thank you Steinberger. Fretless basses have become more and more popular. You want an 80s pop music ballad? You need to play a chorused fretless. And yeah, active electronics. No noise. Except maybe some hiss. Who cares.
80s pop music – you gotta love it, man
It’s all in the production: Several production techniques were era defining. Tight, machine like grooves. Robotic vocals. Reckless guitar solos. Think Jimi Hendrix on steroids. Or just think Eddie Van Halen. That will do. It was near the end of the golden tape era. Time code syncing machines were no problem. Stacking shitloads of vocal tracks weren’t either. So yeah, that’s about 80s pop music. In a nutshell. If I missed anything, just get a mix from us. I can guarantee it will be there. May the mullet be with you.