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January 20, 1994 - Image 16

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-01-20

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, January 20, 1994
The story of '80s nostalgia: a comeback or a farce?

By KRISTEN KNUDSEN
While the '70s generation revels
in disco nostalgia, and while the Vil-
lage People enjoy another 15 min-
utes, the'80s era tries to make its own
comeback. Luke and Laura return to
TV;'80s music plays at parties and
dance clubs; compilation albums like
"Totally '80s" (each containing 10
songs plus "Jessie's Girl") are inces-
santly advertised.
But while the'70s gave us albums
full of music to build our CD collec-
tions, the '80s left us with very few
bands to remember. Indeed, the '80s
gave us some damn good songs, but
albums were crap and bands flashed
in the pan. It was called the Me Gen-
eration, and it was a time when image
counted more than musical talent, a
time when Pearl Jam and Nirvana
would have been laughed off stage
for not being pretty enough. It was the
era that gave us pop music, and also
the era that killed it.
Think about it. The bands behind
the best songs from the '80s could
now fill a "whatever happened to"
book. Our shelves are devoid of al-
bums from the'80s, save a few great-
est hits and Time-Life collections.
"Maniac," "Total Eclipse of the Heart"
and "Down Under" will forever be
hailed as great songs, but where are
Michael Sembello, Bonnie Tyler and
Men at Work now?
The bands that lived through the
'80s, like U2 and REM, didn't be-
come mainstream until the end of the
decade. Before that they were consid-
ered alternative, not pop. Mainstream

pop artists like Michael Jackson,
Prince and Madonna are still around,
but what have we heard from them
musically lately? Others, like Billy
Joel, Sting, John Mellencamp and
Duran Duran, have had to revamp
their sounds in order to fit in with
'90s-style music. Every other band
with a hit song from the '80s has since
dropped off the planet. It's no wonder
that pop music as we knew it dropped
with them.
The one and two-hit wonders of
the last decade - Wham!, A-ha, Eu-
rope, Rick Springfield, Blondie, the
Stray Cats - had image going for
them. Unlike the members of today's
popular bands, they could speak a
sentence when interviewed, and they
looked good on the new medium,
MTV. But in many cases they didn't
write their own songs. And they
couldn't top themselves once they
sang a good one.
Pop metal bands like Bon Jovi,
Motley Crue and Poison were
doomed. They built their careers on
their images. And the novelty wore
off real quick.
Since the bands from the '80s
found it too much of a challenge on
their hairspray to stick around, a whole
new style of music has been able to
take over the mainstream. This alter-
native sound will have more longev-
ity than the pop that came before it
because it produces whole albums
and not just single songs.
Those of us who miss that good
old pop music can call toll-free any-
time.

~~y4k
A-ha was one of many '80s bands that could not make it past their "Take-on-Me" image to survive into the '90s. Gotta love the beach motif though.

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S

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Week honoring composer pulls emotional strings

Classical Music
Write about it for the Daily Fine Arts staff.
We're looking for serious, opinionated concert-goers to cover
Ann Arbor's cassicalmusic scene - a great opportunity to see
concerts, meet artists and voice opinions.
Call Kirk at 763-0379.

DMITRI
Continued from page 1
ber one is incredibly exuberant, two is
symphonic, three is almost symphonic,
four and five are really lyrical, seven
is tiny and twisted, 10 is just terrific.
And 15 is six slow movements in a
row, all in c-flat minor - it's a great
quartet. It's almost unbearable though.
It makes Haydn's 'Seven Last Words
on the Cross' sound like a day in the
country."
The main reason for
Shostakovich's expanding audience
may be purely musical. His musical
style is very distinct and easily recog-
nizable. "His language is so much his
own," Leonard said. "There's a pretty
high level of tonality, but he's pretty

free with dissonance within it. You
can have harmonic sideslips that
wouldn't happen in other people's
music. He's managed to assimilate all
of the techniques of 20th century com-
position without compromising his
individual language."
The opportunity to hear all 15 quar-
tets in five days of live performances
is an exceptionally rare opportunity.
Berlinsky said, "The listener who is
exposed to the 15 quartets of
Shostakovich will be able to have a
very clear impression of the philo-
sophical development of
Shostakovich. After playing the com-
plete cycle, emotionally I feel com-
pletely empty - I have spent every
emotion I have playing these quar-
tets."
There is no question that

Shostakovich's music is great, among
the greatest ever written, and its emo-
tional extremity is unlike that of any
other composer. This leads to mixed
reactions among many listeners who
love his music. Many people have a
great deal of respect for
Shostakovich's musical accomplish-,
ments on the level of absolute music
but would rather keep themselves re-
moved from his emotional intensity.
Others live vicariously through the
music, using it as an emotional jump-
start, but don't fully appreciate its
complexity.
Leonard offered a somewhat be-
wildering final assessment of
Shostakovich. "I really like
Shostakovich a lot as a composer," he
said, "but I really hope that in another
50 years he's not popular - not that

he's not well thought of, but people
just won't understand it anymore. It
would be nice if people weren't into
grim, dark stuff. It would be a better
world if people didn'tunderstand how
Stalin could do what he did."
All 15 string quartets of Dmitri
Shostakovich will be played by the
Borodin String Quartet on con-
secutive evenings between January
25 and January 29. Thefirst and
the final concert, on the 25th and
the 29th, will be held at 8 p.m. at
Rackham Auditorium. Tickets for
these concerts will be available for
$14, $16, $22 and $24. $8 Student
Rush Tickets will be available for
these concerts. The middle three
concerts, on January 26-28, will be
held at 8 p.m. at the U-M Museum
ofArt.

Theirs.

Ours.

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