The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Got a tip? Have something you need to tell us? Contact us

Loading Recent Classifieds...

“How Soon Is Now?”: ’80s throwback playlist

(Matt Smith, Associated Press)

The 1980s were weird. Chia Pets. Reaganomics. Pee-Wee Herman. Your mom (and dad) probably rocked a perm.

People and things that seem strange now were careless matters in the ’80s. Take a look at Tom Cruise. Before he was the subject of this website, or a jumping bean on Oprah’s big yellow couch, Cruise was a mega-babe wearing tight pants in “The Outsiders” and a mega-babe wearing no pants in “Risky Business.”

In the ’80s, a gallon of gas averaged at $1.19. We got the Gameboy. “The Simpsons.” We found the Titanic. We lost John Lennon.

Maybe the latter is why ’80s music gets a bad rap. We often don’t realize that the ’80s was more than arena rock and tacky synthesizers and big hair. This decade was an incubation period, a 10-year cultivation of some of the best music in history. The ’80s introduced us to Sweet Children from Berkeley. We know them now as Green Day. Without the 80s, Pen Chap Chew from Seattle may have never become Nirvana.

Pop music was perfected in the 80s. The music industry ditched disco years before, creating an immediate need to fill the commercial black hole. That’s where titans of pop, like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston filled the void. ’80s pop was rebellious in content. Boys drove fast cars, girls stayed out all night. Before she was kissing Britney Spears at the 2003 VMA’s, Madonna was topping the Billboard charts. This week’s playlist promises pop pleasures like New Kids on the Block, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, The Go-Gos, Lionel Richie and ABBA.

Hip-hop and punk emerged from underground origins to trailblazing genres during the decade. N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” reaffirmed that the West Coast was the hip-hop mecca in the ’80s. When Henry Rollins joined Black Flag in 1981, an American punk subculture assembled in its image. This week’s playlist features rap game-changers Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Run-DMC, and punk favorites The Gun Club, DEVO and The Misfits, all who continued to evolve through the decade.

Some of the best ’80s music flourished outside the commercial sphere. Some songs on this week’s playlist never made it to the Top 40. The Smiths were the OG sadboys. The Pixies played by their own songwriting rules. Sonic Youth were brand new. The Cure gave you feelings. Bauhaus took them away. You’ll fall in love with ’80s indie cuts like The Pretenders’ “Back on the Chain Gang” and the Violent Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone” on this week’s playlist.

You don’t have to be an ’80s baby to get down to this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist. It’ll be Friday before you know it.



Did we forget your favorite ’80s jam? Let us know in the comments box below!


More to Discover