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The Beat goes on



The good, the bad and the ugly from the ’80s is popular again

WHO: English Beat, April 8 th at Garfinkel’s

WHO: Platinum Blonde and Honeymoon Suite, April 15 th at the GLC

I was guilty of Aquanet abuse and was seen sporting neon socks, legwarmers and jelly shoes. Breakfast Club was my favourite movie. My sisters were consumed with Atari and we listened to a bleached blonde named Madonna singing about virginity.

The ’80s. Some call it the worst era for fashion and entertainment. Others defend its colourful creativity and movement away from dark political and social messages. Love it or hate it, it’s back.

Style geniuses such as Donna Karan and John Galliano are gleaning inspiration from Dynasty’s ritzy bitches. Thin hipster belts and thick bracelets are being pulled out of retirement. Denim jackets and stilettos are gracing the runways. Trend-setters such as Jennifer Lopez are sporting headbands.

Musically, there’s a huge resurfacing of ’80s bands with the likes of The GoGos taking the stage on Letterman. Unlikely modern day musicians are hitting it big with ’80s verses such as Shaggy’s Angel (featuring Juice Newton’s Angel of the Morning), and punk bands are covering classics by the likes of Trooper and Adam Ant. Whistler won’t be immune from the invasion, with not one, not two, but three ’80s bands – Honeymoon Suite, Platinum Blonde and English Beat – stopping in the resort in the coming week.

"When the ’80s started I remember everyone saying how crap the ’70s were," laughs Dave Wakeling, frontman of The English Beat, famous for such reggae/pop hits as Mirror in the Bathroom and I Confess. Wakeling went on to head up General Public in the ’90s, with their single, I’ll Take You There, best remembered for its use by President Bill Clinton during his re-election campaign.

"I think while you're in close proximity to a decade you see the worst of it. But once you get some time away from it, you only start seeing and hearing the best of it," Wakeling says.

That’s just one of the reasons ’80s music is now seeing such a strong resurgence on the stage and radio.

"There's good and bad from all decades," agrees Derry Grehan, songwriter/guitarist for one of Canada's premier ’80s bands, Honeymoon Suite. "Music is cyclical; what's old is new again. Each era will have its great pop songs.

"I loved the ’80s. That was our time, but outside of that, the music was very positive and melodic. The ’90s went quite dark."

Another strike against the bright and shiny artists of the ’80s who failed to make the transition to the ’90s. Music executives, seeing the dollar signs linked to MTV, were too busy turning out pretty boys and girls on the "hair band" assembly line to foresee how little substance was actually taking root.