Comments: Kepple's Applied Theory of Popular Music

Mr. Kepple! Your rant about popular American music has many holes. But I shant fill them all or my back would give out like the overworked clasp on a whore's brassiere. I shall concentrate only on your ignorant dismissal of 1980s music.

First, REO Speedwagon recorded its first album in 1971. They were a 70s band that had some big hits in the '80s.

Second, if one excludes European pop and rock -- U2, The Police, Genesis, The Clash, The English Beat, The Cure, The Smiths, Madness, Falco, etc. -- then '80s music does lose the bulk of its heft. But there remains a strong American contingent. R.E.M., the best American band of the '80s, surely produced better work in that decade than anything anyone has produced in the following decade.

Other white '80s bands that produced quality work during the Reagan years include The Talking Heads, The Beastie Boys, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Van Halen, Joan Jett, The Stray Cats, and, yes, Huey Lewis and The News.

But the most permanent music of the 1980s was recorded by black Americans. Prince, Michael Jackson, L.L. Cool J., Run-D.M.C., Sade, Robert Cray, Tracy Chapman, Living Colour, Kool and the Gang, and Earth Wind and Fire all produced classic songs, many that remain radio staples today. Michael Jackson in his prime destroys anything produced in the '90s. And the Beastie Boys' first album remains one of the top rock/pop albums ever.

One can't blame you for missing out on the excellence that was produced in the 1980s. After all, you were probably a wee toddler sucking on Zwiebacks and listening to Chipmunks records when the decade began, and therefore you would not remember "Ged Down On It" or "You Dropped The Bomb On Me" or "Darling Nikki", which by the way has been rerecorded by The Foo Fighters and is becoming something of a hit.

So you see, Mr. Kepple, dismissing the 1980s with a throw-away comment about REO Speedwagon is unfair, unjust, and downright ungentlemanly. May you find repentance by mysteriously discovering a copy of Purple Rain in your chair when you arrive at work tomorrow morning.

Posted by Reb Elyell at January 12, 2004 08:55 PM