The Music I listened to and loved in the 80s had an influence on me, it’s undeniable. Along with the books I read, the television shows and movies I watched, the people I met, they all helped shape create the foundation of who I am today. Would I be me today if I hadn’t seen “The Day After” at a young age and had a near-obsession level of paranoia over my skin getting peeled off in a nuclear blast? Who’s to say? Did the artists of the music I listen to and their speaking out on political and social matters shape me? Absolutely.
I stumbled across Stereogum‘s list of 80s songs about nuclear war and it was nostalgia on full volume for me. Their list included songs I may not have realized at the time were as political as they were, but now with adult eyes and 30+ years of hindsight, I am grateful that they are. I hope you enjoy some of them as much as I do.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – “Two Tribes” (1984)
Franke Goes To Hollywood weren’t pulling any punches. Their video for “Two Tribes” opens with archival footage of Richard Nixon proclaiming “Above everything else, the American people want leaders who will keep the peace.” It isn’t any subtler who the two tribes are from there, as the video focuses on a ring match between lookalikes of Reagan and Chernenko. The song reflects some of the common themes from similar songs, both the futility of it all (“When two tribes go to war/ A point is all you can score”) and the feeling of the whole world being caught between American and Russia’s personal pissing match. (Frankie Goes To Hollywood were from England.) And just like there were some unlikely pop hits from their peers, “Two Tribes” is an enduring dancefloor jam thanks to its driving electronics, though that also worked as a representation of the Cold War’s standoff intensifying.