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February 25, 2015

Nostalgia by @RossMKitson

Number Eight (Battlestar Galactica)
Number Eight (Battlestar Galactica) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So here’s a thing. After a rather drawn out house move and the sledgehammer style disposal of the creaking old PC, I’ve recently downloaded 30GB of music from G-drive onto the wife’s laptop (now nominally the family computer). Having lost all the former playlists I decided to create some new ones, and amongst those thought a compilation of Eighties music would be good. Let me tell you, it’s been a soul-changing experience akin to finding out your parents were secretly Cylons (they weren’t, as Cylons in Battlestar Galactica are all uber-good looking, except Dean Stockwell).

I’ve always had a mild degree of musical snobbery. Through my life I’ve smiled wryly at the vagaries of pop fashion, valued bands that play ‘real instruments’, and quite admired those with a political stance (providing it was left of centre and not accompanied by the trample of jackboots). So, to my horror, I found myself adding Eighties pop band after pop band to my new compilations. Alongside The Specials Ghost Town, I put Madonna; abutting Visage Fade to Grey, I slide in Duran Duran; next to Gary Numan’s Are Friends Electric (arguably the greatest baseline in modern music), I deposit… Bonnie Tyler…. 
English: A cropped version photo British singe...
English: A cropped version photo British singer Bonnie Tyler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I could go on. I find myself humming along to Belinda Carlisle, the Bangles, Bros, Wham…. My inner music snob wails and gibbers, desperately seeking some The Smiths, Dead Kennedies, Depeche Mode, The Cure… But it’s no use. I’ve started listening to Eighties throwback stations on the radio—replete with big hair AOR bands. When I’m alone I start playing air guitar like I’m in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I have… nostalgia. 

It’s a powerful elixir, nostalgia. I suspect mine is orange MD20-20 flavoured. In my adolescence, I abhorred the pop bands of the time—Wham, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, Human League, latterly Bros, New Kids. They were a common source of derision from the lads to the lasses, a good way of teasing them as they wrote the band names on their pencil cases and folders. Yet I’ll hear Wham’s Club Tropicana, or Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer and I find myself really enjoying the tracks. Maybe I’m mellowing, maybe they’ve grown on me (after thirty years), or maybe it triggers a memory of the time, the place. Nostalgia is like the soundtrack to our lives—whether it’s the music, the TV programmes, the films, the board-games or the books. It ties the memories together, glues it into something that feels almost cinematic. I think of me and five friends being the only ones dancing the Time Warp at a school disco in 1985; of feeling rebellious at my mate Nik’s house playing Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax at top volume as school term ended; of Careless Whisper being the song you suppressed your terror and asked a girl to slow dance to at the end of the 13th birthday party at the Rec.  

Oddly I was thinking this not so long ago when I watched Guardians of the Galaxy with the kids. They loved it, the wife loved it, but I think I loved it more. Not just the soundtrack, but the style of the film—it was an Eighties sci-fi film done with modern special effects. As I watched Starlord leaping about and generally getting beaten up I was back in the early Eighties making ‘pew pew’ noises with my makeshift blaster. The rogue-ish heroes were very much Han and Chewie, with a bit of Galactica’s Starbuck chucked in for measure. Maybe with the success of Guardians, Disney’s new Star Wars film will escape the dark lumbering of Revenge of the Sith, and look more to the cheeky fun of Star Wars (New Hope). 

But more on my sci-fi love in another post (assuming I get invited back…). 

So I’ll leave you with thoughts of another era—whether that’s your own soundtrack to the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties or Nineties—and maybe give my inner music snob a rest for a while longer.

About the Author

Ross M Kitson is a doctor, occasinal blogger, full time geek, and sporadic author of fantasy and YA sci-fi. If you were curious about his work you could check him out on Amazon. And his first fantasy book for free, yes... Free! At Smashwords. 


  1. I also love pop music - it's my not-so-guilty pleasure! And the soundtrack to Guardians was fantastic. Oogachakka!

  2. Wham! How can you NOT love Wham! Ever?!

  3. i love pop music too.