There are personal, more subjective reasons too. For a start, I was there. It was the year I moved to London and started writing freelance for Sounds. It gave me privileged access to free records and concert guest lists. Of course, it wasn't just about pop (though for some reason I decided to buy every issue of Smash Hits that year, having never bought it before) and mostly I wrote about weird stuff like Nurse With Wound or Cabaret Voltaire, but I did get heavily into pop too. Anyway, here's 15 other reasons:
- It was a year that began with the banning of Frankie's Relax and ended with Band Aid (the latter a significant event whichever way you look at it).
- It was a year of many different scenes & genres (not just one overpowering one) with literally hundreds of great bands jostling for attention.
- It was a year dominated by the Miners' strike, Cold War paranoia and more politically inspired pop than any other year before or since.
- It was the year of The Smiths, The Blue Nile, Depeche Mode, Scritti Politti, David Sylvian, The Style Council, Tears For Fears, The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Fall, Talk Talk, Echo & the Bunnymen, U2 hiring Eno etc.
- It was the coming of age for Factory, 4AD, Mute and Some Bizarre; This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance...
- It saw the beginning of the Pet Shop Boys, Fine Young Cannibals, Lloyd Cole, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Pogues, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, My Bloody Valentine and (gulp) Stock Aitken and Waterman.
- It was the year of the 12" single, of remixes, of dance becoming incorporated into pop.
- Yes yes yes, it made stars of Sade, Wham!, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones and all that - and even bigger stars of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet - none of whom were as bad as we sometimes believe(d) them to be.
And this glamorous singer? (Clue: it's not Carmel)
- It was the winding up of the 'Second British Invasion' and the big-time beginnings of Madonna and Prince who promptly reclaimed the US charts.
- It was also a strong year for alternatives: Cabaret Voltaire, Test Dept, Einsturzende Neubaten, Coil, 23 Skidoo, Foetus, Chakk, Man Jumping, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Bill Nelson and countless others; it also saw the release (though very few clocked it at the time) of Manuel Gottsching's E2-E4 and plenty more great stuff from Le Continent.
- It was a time when the music press (there were four weekly papers) still mattered, and the nascent time of Smash Hits and style-bibles The Face and i-D.
- You didn’t go out on Thursdays or Fridays until after Top of the Pops and The Tube had finished.
- It was great graphic design and Frankie Say T-shirts, a year between analogue and digital and when synthesizers and drum-machines came of age. It was the beginning of the CD.
- It was the year of unsung heroes: Shriekback, XTC, Frank Chickens, 1000 Mexicans, Shock Headed Peters, The Sound, Thomas Leer, Sheila Chandra, The Daintees...
- It was the end of The Police and Soft Cell and the beginning of the end of Culture Club, Bowie, Eurythmics, Adam Ant, The Clash, The Stranglers, Madness, Human League and Heaven 17 though each definitely had their moments in 84.
- It was also the year of Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and (its antidotal) Spinal Tap.
|And this guy?|
Anyway, let's see how it goes. Don't hold your breath.-