’80s Rock Essentials

’80s Rock Essentials

Memes don’t lie: Hair really was that big in the ’80s. And so was the rock. Dive into the decade’s classic tunes, and you’ll find yourself lost in an ocean of soaring choruses, in-your-face production values, humongous drums, and epic synthesizers. Just about every A-lister—Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, Tom Petty, Journey, Guns N’ Roses, U2, you name it—conquered the charts and MTV with larger-than-life anthems. But it wasn’t just size that mattered; in contrast to the earthy introspection that dominated the ’70s, the ’80s were all about fun. Joan Jett raised her fists to rock ’n’ roll, while heartland icon John Mellencamp howled about sucking down chili dogs. Even R.E.M., the toast of the college-rock scene at the time, were having a blast proclaiming the end of the world. Of course, the world didn’t end, and the ’80s gave way to the much more angsty ’90s, but not before leaving behind some of rock’s most colorful and energetic jams.

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