The music industry has undergone a significant transformation since the 1980s. In the early days of the decade, the introduction of music television changed the way audiences consumed music. "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles, famously played as the first song on MTV in 1980, marked the beginning of a new era.
Today, the music landscape has changed dramatically, with the rise of the internet and increased access to a wider range of musical genres. In this article, we explore the evolution of popular music over the past four decades and how technology has played a role in shaping musical tastes.
The Most Popular Songs of Each Month Since 1980
YouTube channel "Boogiehead" has compiled a comprehensive list of the most popular songs of each month since January 1980. The playlist, which is also available on Spotify, spans 512 songs and covers a wide range of musical genres and styles.
From the 1980s, artists such as Pink Floyd, Queen, Blondie, David Bowie, and John Lennon dominated the charts. In recent years, popular artists such as Rihanna, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Bruno Mars, and Ariana Grande have taken center stage.
The video, which would have taken over 24 hours to play in its entirety, was condensed into a 50-minute video, with a single representative phrase from each song. The review of the video highlights the enduring popularity of some old hits, with songs from the 80s and 90s still attracting significant attention many years later.
The Return of the Old: How Social Media is Reviving Popular Music
One such example is "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush, which appeared on Boogiehead's playlist almost at the very end. The song, from her 1985 album "Hounds of Love," experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to its inclusion in the hit series "Stranger Things" and its viral success on TikTok.
The 64-year-old singer-songwriter has earned a new generation of fans, many of whom discovered her music through social media. Peter Suciu of Forbes notes that songs now have a longer shelf life than they did in the 80s and 90s, largely due to social media.
He explains, "In 1985, when Michael Jackson was the undisputed King of Pop, Kate Bush would have been relegated to 'alternative' music radio stations, which were few and far between, or college radio. Running Up That Hill has certainly become more popular now than it was when it was released – and one factor could be that social media has changed the way people listen to music." Social media expert Scott Steinberg concurs, stating that social media has become a great repository of old songs.
TikTok and YouTube are full of older music videos, many of which weren't even in constant rotation during the days of MTV, helping many old songs find new audiences.