Already Gone

Glenn Frey was kind of a bad ass. He was rugged in the 80s when rugged, for a man, was fringe. You had your clean-cut, coke-sniffing suits on Wall Street, or your downtown scenesters laced in eyeliner. Not putting either down, but the coolest guys in the room are always the ones who don’t care. That was Don Johnson and Glenn Frey and everything Miami Vice related.

Frey, the de facto leader of the Eagles, joined a somber list of notable artists who have passed away less than three weeks into 2016 on Monday, January 18th. He was 67 years old.

Though most famous for his longstanding tenure with the Eagles, Frey had a successful solo career in the 80s highlighted by two No. 2 Billboard hits, “The Heat is On,” and “You Belong to the City.”

The song and video for “You Belong to the City” deserve their own post. They sum up the magnetism of ‘bright lights, big city’ 80s culture to absolute perfection. It is at once grimy but alluring; dangerous but seductive; heartbreaking but undeniable. It may appear trivial to the uninitiated, but it was this song/video combination that planted the kernel of urban wanderlust in one Retrobacktive creator’s head. And despite the 20-year separation, New York City lived up to all the dirty glamour suggested in Frey’s 1985 hit song.

So thanks, Glenn. If you have to have a song stuck in your head for 30 years, this ain’t a bad one.

Get Ready to Whistle… A Lot!

Since the 1950s, television has sat atop the telecommunications media throne as the purveyor of all whims societal. Sure, the internet has gained impressive footing with its ability to deliver terse (Ha! Not around here), multimedia news in real time, but let’s be honest: we have machines whose whole purpose is to capture what’s on our televisions when we’re too busy to watch them. Whatever you’re opinion, there’s no denying that T.V. is a powerful medium.

Yet you may have noticed a lack of television references on Retrobacktive. It may seem odd, given television may qualify as the most capricious of all entertainment sources, and certainly the Eighties was a decade of sleek-if-not-transient fashion. But it’s important to take into consideration the nature of television programming 25 years ago. Unlike today’s epic sagas demanding devout adherence to developing plot lines and intricate themes, television was formerly the medium of the short sighted. Everything on television had to be neatly summed up in an hour. Audiences didn’t want cliffhangers or lead-ups; they wanted well defined beginnings, middles, and ends. There was Wang Chung-ing to be done at the clubs, after all.

So while most television shows came with less emotional purchase than the average blockbuster film or landmark album, there were a few watershed moments that helped define the era by way of the small screen.

Those won’t be discussed here today, at least not in detail. There’s a more pressing component of 80s television to ruminate upon, perhaps the most enduring of all: the theme music.

It may seem archaic today, but there was a time when opening credits were part-and-parcel for television. And of course, in order to grip your audiences, every show needed a captivating theme. Fortunately, in effort to exploit the multimedia wonders of this particular medium (the Blog!), there will be no long-winded lament over television theme music of the 80s. Simply, here are the music and opening television segments that defined a generation, and likely stayed stuck in your head throughout the years.

1.) MacGyver (1985 – 1992)

2.) Knight Rider (1982 – 1986)

3.) Miami Vice (1984 – 1989)

4.) Quantum Leap (1989 – 1993)

5.) Magnum P.I. (1980 – 1988)

And why not a sixth, since these lists always seem to culminate in five…

Happy humming!