After 1984’s gargantuan greatness with the dominance of Frankie and meteoric rise of Madonna and Prince, 1985 had a lot to measure up to. …And indeed, some have said it’s a rather more forgettable year for pop.
Few people could argue against 1984 being one of history’s finest years for pop music. Above all else, the mighty Frankie Goes To Hollywood came and gave pop a hefty kick up the arse with a combination of great tunes and greater controversy. They were the first band since the 60s to score three #1 hits in a row, but each one – ‘Relax’, ‘Two Tribes’ and ‘The Power of Love’ were deserving of their success. Each one sounds as good as ever and in the case of ‘Two Tribes’, there’s still a real edginess you’d think would be long gone.
Thanks to a long running MTV show, the idea for rock bands to rework their wares acoustically – or, indeed ‘Unplugged’ – reached the point of frenzy in the 1990s. That MTV show saw appearances from the likely (Neil Young, Bob Dylan), to the more interesting (REM, Alanis Morrissette), right through to the completely unexpected (Nirvana, Staind, Pearl Jam). Naturally, some performances worked better than others – it showed how Staind, in particular, just didn’t have the spark or the songs for the format – but, nevertheless, the idea of the acoustic show proved popular with audiences across the globe. Years on from MTV’s peak popularity, the acoustic format still endures: in 2016, we saw acoustic albums from Status Quo, Peter Frampton, Jimmy Somerville and more… Even UB40 got in on the act – with disastrous results.