• Stepping Stones Kottla

Pop music’s impact on fashion and culture during the ‘00s and the ’80s

By Agnes Eriksson.



Both decades had strong characteristics and are very different. During the ’80s, many new and fresh artists came to the spotlight. The ’80s was a huge music decade where pop music took a big step forward and used a lot of new instruments such as syntonizer. This new type of music also influenced the entire culture by inspiring people to dress differently and create different types of art. The 00’ also had the same impact on the people living and the culture around it. Even though the 80's pop music is very different from the 00’ pop, many similarities can still be found on how music has impacted these decades.


Just by typing 80's pop music into google I get numerous hits with titles similar to “The most unforgettable songs from the 80's” and like “Top ten 80's pop stars, the true superstars” This by itself is proof enough that the 80's music had a very strong impact on people living then, but what exactly was so new and fresh in the ‘80s? According to a true 80's man, my dad, the ‘80s was a time when everything prospered. People got wealthier and healthier. People got better living conditions, the stock market boomed, technology advanced, and the quality of life rose overall. In positive times people like to invest time and money into culture and music is, of course, a big part of the culture during the ‘80s.


During this era disco quickly went out of fashion and the new rising styles were dance music, and new wave. Rock music and soft rock continued to grow during this time but one of the most significant new inventions was the use of synthesizers that became especially popular and was used worldwide when creating music. One of my favorite songs from the ‘80s is Tainted Love by Soft Cell. This song can be described as synth-pop and new wave because of the large number of synthesizers in the song. This song became very famous and was ranked the best selling single in the UK during 1981 which is when it was released. It also spent a record high 43 weeks on the US top 100, the peak was at number eight. Soft Cell actually didn’t produce this song first because it was first released in 1965 by Gloria Jones but it did not get as much attention as Soft Cell’s version. It was also covered again by Marilyn Manson in 2001. I decided to listen to all three and I understand why Soft Cell’s version got more attention than the other because to me it sounds more dominant in some way than Gloria Jone’s version and Marilyn Manson’s version was not at all my cup of tea. Soft Cell’s also released early in the ‘80s and used a lot of synths before it became as largely known as it was later in the ‘80s. This also impacted the success of their version.


Another song that will never be forgotten is “Material Girl” by the one and only Madonna. Madonna was born in 1958 and is one of the greatest and most successful artists in world history. She has a net worth of $570m and has produced some other amazing songs like for example: Like a Prayer, Ray of Light, Vogue, and Like a Virgin. “Material Girl” was released in 1984 and has many characteristics that confirm that this song is from this music era. The most obvious hint is the synth arrangement plus the robotic-sounding voice in the background chanting the hook of the song which is “living in a material world”. The song is also very upbeat and easy to jive along to, that is why it is in the genera dance-pop. This song was in the top five in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Japan, and the United Kingdom. And it also reached the second spot on the billboard top hundred in the US. The song explains the lavish lifestyle with clothes and jewelry that Madonna wishes for and this for sure influenced many people to become more materialistic. That is one great similarity between the ‘80s and the 00’.


During both music decades, pop culture had a huge influence on people and their surroundings. The fashion trends in the ‘80s were neon colors and many patterns. Big hairstyles, shapes of all colors, big earrings, and more unisex options. Fashion was largely impacted by pop music at the time. The music was positive and upbeat which lead people to wear brighter colors and stand out much more. One artist that was especially fashion-forward was David Bowie. You could often see him wearing bright colors, bold patterns, and crazy fashion that was largely inspired by the music he created. One instance where he proved that the clothes he wore were inspired by the music was when he played his song TVC 15 at Live Aid in 1985. The song is very positive and has a clear rhythm that will be easy to enjoy. His outfit when he performed this song was a mint colored suit which was a little too big for him. It had shoulder pads that were very fashionable during the ’80s. His outfit perfectly fits the song he was singing because the song mostly had two parts and it is when he is singing the chorus and when he is singing `transitions”. When he says “transitions” it has a different tempo and flow than the rest of the song but except that the song is very straightforward and likable by many people. Therefore his outfit is influenced by the song by also being straight forward and not having crazy details or patterns that the people watching might not like. His fashion was influenced by the music he made and this was also very common during the ’00s.


During the 00 people were largely influenced by music to start to dress differently. The trends were a lot of low waisted jeans, cropped tops with cute colors. Also latex everything was popular. Fashionistas were often seen wearing sunglasses with colored glass, caps and low necked shirts and dresses. Tight and small outfits that expose skin were also very popular. Beyonce was very popular during the 00s and her song “Crazy in love” spent eight weeks in a row at billboard number one in the US in 2003, which is when it was released. The song is about someone who is in love and crazy about the person. It is a simple context but the best part about it is that JayZ is featured and at the time they had just started dating. In the music video, Beyonce is seen wearing short and low waisted denim shorts, valor caps, silk cropped tops, and colorful bodysuits. This is true fashion from the 00s and the clothes from the music video are clearly inspired by the story of the song. The clothes can be described as vivid and playful and that really suits the theme of the song because the song is about love.


Another example of when the costumes for the music video was inspired by the song is in the bootylicious music video by “Destiny’s Child”. The clothes are colorful, low waisted and a lot of cropped tops can be spotted. Also a lot of fringes are connected to clothes. The clothes are revealing but that is the point because the entire song is about how plumpy their butts are. This song is from 2003 and also presents the connection between fashion and pop music culture.


But Destiny’s Child didn’t only write “Bootylicious, they also released the mega-hit “Say my name” which actually was released in 1999. Even though it was not technically released in the ‘00s it can definitely be counted into the greatest hits during that decade because it was still playing when the 90s ended. The song won two Grammys in 01 and a BMI pop award for the most played song. The song is about a woman who is suspecting her boyfriend is cheating on her. In the early 00 pop was very popular but was later influenced by R&B. Some defining characteristics of 2000 were the use of a lot of instruments to balance out the singing. It was also very common to use electrical sounds that could not really be made with real instruments and only with computers. IN the song “say my name you” it is clear that most of the background music is made from electronic equipment such as electric drum kit, electric guitar and piano, synth pad, and other background noises made from electronics.


In my opinion I like music from the 2000s better because some of the artists still make music today and therefore the artists can still be enjoyed today. For example Brittney released her latest song in 2016 which is not very long ago and if that is compared to the artist that was famous in the 1980s is clear that they have put music-making to the side. Soft cell which is one of my favorite groups from the 80s, released its last album in 2013 which was a long time ago. I also like music from the 2000s better because it has more diversity than the music created in the 80s. Almost all songs from that decade use synthesizers which I believe can get a little boring to listen to over and over again.


In conclusion it is clear to see that there are many differences between the pop in the 2000s and in the 1980s. In 1980 synthesizer was largely used to create music and it was easily the defining object from that decade. The synthesizer inspired many artists such as Madonna and David Bowie to create music. The fashion and trends in 1980 were largely influenced by the music that was being released during that time. That was the same in 2000. Fashion had a lot in common with the culture during 2000 that music was the base of. During the 00s some big artists were Destiny’s Child and Beyonce. And in their music there were many signs of further use of electronic made music and instruments such as electronic guitar and drum kit. Both decades were huge music decades and have shaped the world we live in today.