SMASHING HITS! THE 80S POP MAP OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND REVIEW

SMASHING HITS! THE 80s POP MAP OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND is a truly fabulous programme, which delved into the origins of 80’s music!

It's a nostalgic road trip around Britain and Ireland, a real must watch for any big 80’s music fan.

SMASHING HITS BBC4

We go on a road trip with Midge Ure (Ultravox) and Kim Appleby (Mel & Kim); which takes in London, Coventry, Sheffield, Rhyl, Dublin, Manchester and Glasgow. They show us how these places cultivated music movements which shaped 80’s music.

Episode 1 sees Midge and Kim visit London first. Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet is interviewed. He tells us of how the infamous Blitz club, was the birth place of The New Romantics movement. This club brought forth bands such as Adam and the Ants, Spandau Ballet and Durran Durran. Bands who felt that they would single handily change the world of music.

The advent of MTV, pop magazines such as Smash Hits and Music Videos' ultimately  catapulted these and other bands into overnight stardom.

The road trip then continues up to Coventry, put on the map by Ska music and the 2 tone label.  This music movement was a combination of reggae and punk, which created bands such as The Specials and The Coventry Automatics. This music phenomenon spoke of the social conditions of the times. Who hasn’t heard the 1981 hit Ghost Town (The Specials)? It perfectly described a vastly de-industrialising Britain, where cities such as Coventry were turning into “Ghost” towns. Here in Coventry (where I live), we are currently seeing a rival for this wonderful music.

Kim and Midge travel to Sheffield next,  which spawned bands such as Human League, ABC, Def Leppard and Heaven 17. It is here that electronic synthesiser music made its debut.  This was a miss mash of electronica and punk, and followed a different set of rules to the usual kind of 80’s music.  It moved away from the New Romantics, and the lyrics spoke of the societal discord of the failing blue collar industries. However, these bands soon devolved into pop bands and moved away from their weird electronic roots. These bands went on to create hits which define the pop music of that decade. They are hits listened to and still enjoyed today.

Smashing Hits! The 80’s pop map of Britain and Ireland is a must watch series, if (like me) you really love 80’s music. It is also a good programme to watch to find out about the roots of different musical phenomena, and also how society was at that time.

The 80’s truly changed us as a society, both in the sense of the music world; and as a declining industrial nation. The show indeed highlights how the music trends mirrored the discord and unrest of this era. I grew up in this era and music for me was very indicative of all that went on; and therefore spoke of the riots, strikes and the fast dismantling of Britain as an industrial nation.

I look forward to Episode 2 which will visit Rhyl, Dublin and Glasgow; to see what contributions they made to the legacy which is 80’s music.

- Watched on BBC4. 06/07/2018

Karen Burns

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