Imagine for a moment that the Oasis hit Wonderwall was recorded in the 1980s, and the lead vocals were performed by Jimmy Somerville instead of Liam Gallagher. Deco did a great job mashing up the track with 1984’s Smalltown Boy. Their Spice Girls / Marvin Gaye combo is a good listen too.
THE BEST 1980s
Musician Astrophysics takes songs from various genres, and slathers them with a thick layer of 1980s electronic sounds, then complements them with appropriately retro graphics. There’s lots of great stuff to enjoy on their YouTube channel, but this synthwave remix of Outkast’s 2003 hit Hey Ya! is our favorite (so far.)
The Timex T80 was a staple of 1980s design. Now it’s back and updated for the 21st century. The new version is just a bit crisper looking all around, with an old-school black on grey LCD, Indiglo backlighting, alarm, date, and stopwatch functions. It’s available in a variety of metal finishes, and a Pac-Man edition.
Do you have a place in your heart for the sounds of the 1980s? Sonicware’s portable synthesizer makes FM sounds like many electronic instruments of the era, but can merge multiple sounds into one. It has a built-in 4-track sequencer, effects, filters, and more than 300 preset sounds. Their 8bit Warps synth looks nifty too.
These days, we all carry a very capable computer in our pockets. But back in the 1980s, pocket computers looked more like glorified calculators. The 8-Bit Guy takes a look at some of these early examples of miniaturization for a look at just how far computing technology has come in the last few decades.
Joy Division and New Order’s Peter Hook and his current band, The Light performed highly satisfying covers of his former band’s tracks Love Will Tear Us Apart, Age of Consent, and Digital, during a socially-distanced concert for Yamaha Guitars. In a separate session, they kicked out The Perfect Kiss.
Toymaker Super7 celebrates the 1988 John Carpenter classic They Live, putting on their special sunglasses to reveal the creepy ghouls living among us. The retro-style 3-3/4″ collection includes a man and a woman, along with limited edition OBEY and SUBMIT variants in black-and-white.
These days, most content is streamed or played on Blu-ray discs. But there was a time when videotapes were the media of choice. Mental Floss takes a trip in the wayback machine to tell the story of VCRs, the epic war between Betamax and VHS, and how the technologies changed everything for visual entertainment.
UK shop ReadyPlayerTwo creates these nifty 3-dimensional logo signs inspired by classic video game and computer systems. Each one is 3D printed from PLA plastic to accurately replicate the original color scheme, and has neodymium magnets securely mounted inside.
Inspired by 1980s boomboxes, but updated with modern audio tech, the Flare6 cranks out 150-watts of power via its three speakers. It offers 12 hours of wireless playtime, and has a 1/4″ microphone input, SD and USB ports for playing MP3 files, and five EQ settings. For even more power, check out the 200-watt Flare 8.
For some reason, music from 8-bit and 16-bit games seems more memorable than most modern games. It probably has something to do with retro synthesizers drilling the sounds deeper into our brains. If you love retro game music too, hit play and listen up as BearKeys performs on a Roland Jupiter-6 synth. Part two here.
Back in 2013, Puddles Pity Party burst onto the scene with toned-down cover version of Lorde’s hit Royals he did with Postmodern Jukebox. Now, our favorite singing clown has returned to the well with a playful new wave arrangement of the track. Seriously, it sounds like it was produced by Ric Ocasek for a Cars album.
Retro software experts Squirrel Monkey look back a series of fictitious programs from the late 1980s that were designed to help people talk to the dead and predict the future. Early PC software was apparently way creepier than we remember it. And yes, we know the World Wide Web didn’t actually start until 1989.
We already know what Siri might have been like back in the 1980s, now Squirrel Monkey imagines another virtual assistant existed during a time when voice synthesis and voice recognition were in their infancy. We love how it uses a cassette recorder to download songs from Amazon Music.
As we move more and more towards digital downloads and streaming, there’s less need for packaging. Ahoy looks back at the days when computer games mostly came in oversize packages with bold box art, and started to standardize on a form factor back in the early 1990s. Despite the dry subject matter, Ahoy makes it interesting.
The CGI in TRON seems primitive by today’s standards, but back in 1982 it was not only groundbreaking, it pushed the limits of available technology. Using modern tech, the guys at Corridor Crew decided to see if they could accurately replicate the famous light cycle scene in less than a day.
Go back to the ’80s with this retro-style speaker that looks like an old-school Walkman. Instead of popping a cassette in, stash your smartphone inside of it, then clip it onto your belt loop for full effect. It has working control buttons and a 3.5mm aux in jack. Why not go all-in and use it with that Bluetooth cassette player?
(PG-13) Created by stuntman John Stewart back in 1989, this rarely-seen, over-the-top B-movie has been restored for new audiences to enjoy. Packed with action, profanity, blood, and practical FX, it’s a welcome break from the CGI and shakycam fight sequences of today. Available to rent from Alamo on Demand through 10.12.2020.
Pendragon Game Studio presents a fantastic looking board game inspired by John Carpenter’s gruesome 1982 horror classic The Thing. Up to 8 players head to a research station in Antarctica to assume the roles of characters from the movie as the try and figure out who among them has been taken over by an alien parasite.
“A once proud city has descended into a den of crime, sin, and misery. A corrupt police force and criminal underworld make every day a savage struggle… Yet one man will attempt a daring escape…” It sounds like quite the premise, but Mark Butchko’s animated short film is basically a modern tribute to the video game Zaxxon.
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