There are few eras of music which perhaps inspire quite so much controversy – some might say vitriol – as the 1980s. The dance style of pop music which grew out of the disco of the 1970s bred some pretty cheesy numbers, but in the mix were some true classics too. From voluminous hair to neon fashion statements and scrunchies in abundance, the 80s was very much a love-it or hate-it decade when it comes to popular culture, but it was certainly one that was memorable, and from the frequency of 80s nights and festivals around the UK, we’d say it’s a decade that was pretty well loved. Some truly iconic bands were formed in the 80s – from Duran Duran to Queen and even teen heartthrobs Wham, but it was a decade that also produced some seriously underrated bands, across all sorts of genres. We’ve compiled some of the best bands of the 80s that have flown under the radar since – keep reading to add some breadth to your musical knowledge and maybe a few tunes to your playlist while you’re at it!
Katrina and the Waves
It would be disingenuous to say that Katrina and the Waves are totally underrated; one song in particular of theirs is a firm favourite to this day because of its feelgood message and upbeat, dancey style. Walking On Sunshine often makes an appearance in adverts, on film soundtracks and on the radio, but it’s far from the only thing that this 80s band put out. Comprised of Katrina Leskanich, Vince de la Cruz, Alex Cooper and Kimberley Rew, Katrina and the Waves went through several line-ups and names before the entity now known as Katrina and the Waves was formed. An early track, Going Down to Liverpool was covered by the Bangles in 1984, and while a good song in its own right, the exposure helped to build the fledgling band’s profile. Their first album was released in Canada before the UK, and eventually Walking On Sunshine became a worldwide hit – understandably as it is an LP packed full of feelgood 80s pop tunes. Though they staged a surprise comeback with the track Love Shine A Light, winning the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest, the band remains known primarily for its one big hit, despite a couple of well received albums under their belt.
In the 1980s Rick Astley was a pin-up for teenage girls around the country; now he has the dubious honour of being famous among teenagers for all the wrong reasons – the Rickroll. This is an internet meme which has been around for over a decade, and which sees internet users send each other clips of the song Never Gonna Give You Up disguised as something else and try to trick them into opening them by accident. Though the song was also his biggest hit in his heyday, Astley has an impressive back-catalogue of tracks, including a beautiful cover of the Nat King Cole classic When I Fall In Love – well worth spending the time getting to know this artist if 80s pop is your thing!
Johnnie Hates Jazz
A band that is often overlooked when it comes to rundowns of the 1980s music scene, Johnny Hates Jazz saw significant success with their first every single – Shattered Dreams. The new wave pop outfit swept the world, entering the charts in Europe, Asia and the USA as well as in their home country of Britain. A follow up album was also a commercial success, but the breakup of the band just a few years later made any subsequent albums impossible. In the late 00s, after successful solo careers, the two core members of the band, Mike Nocito and Clive Datchler reformed to release a new album, Magnetized. The release did well among fans and proves to the world that this band is no 80s relic, and is still current and modern. The reformed band is now performing and touring together again, and the Johnnie Hates Jazz agent is MN2S if you’d like to book them for an event – they’re available for gigs of all sizes and are sure to take fans and nostalgia-lovers straight back to the 80s!