Welcome the next installment of my year-long look back at the decade that was ruled by big hair and bigger egos. Every other week I’ll be covering pop culture tidbits from the 1980s, sharing memories, choking on the ridiculousness, and maybe offering an insight or two into what made the 1980s so great/bad/silly. Serving as my inspiration are two lists from Buzzfeed, and I’ll include links to the original list items in each post. So throw on your neon windbreaker, lace up your hi-tops, and adjust your Wayfarers, because this DeLorean is taking off! (Ugh. Did I really just type that? Gag me with spoon, seriously.)
List item #51 from 53 Things Only 80s Girls Can Understand
You loved NKOTB and had memorabilia mostly of your favorite one in the group.
(Aside: It’s easy enough to argue that the NKOTB probably reached the heights of their popularity in the 1990s, but their rise to super stardom began in the 1980s.)
This list item is one that did not pertain to my life literally, but rather it foreshadowed one niche that of my personality that now defines me – that of the distant, general fan. This is a really convoluted way of saying that oh yes, I tried with all my awkward teenage heart to fawn over the New Kids on the Block like practically all my female classmates, but…I just couldn’t.
At the risk of becoming even more wordy and circuitous in trying to explain that, let’s travel back to the late 1980s. I’m a horribly discomfited middle-schooler (getting ready to transition into high school) with few real life friends. That’s not to say that I didn’t try to make friends. In fact, I tried all sorts of dumb ways to get to know my classmates better, none of which ever proved fruitful. Though my attempts at being personable never won many people over, I was often able to reach a common ground with others through music. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I was a HUGE fan of Top 40 radio at this time, and the knowledge that I gained by regularly listening to the latest and greatest the pop world had to offer helped me avoid full-on outcast status. Though I didn’t like everything I heard, I could at least hold my own in “Madonna vs. Cyndi Lauper” arguments, discussions on Bruce Springsteen’s patriotism, and debates on George Michael’s turn from bubblegum prince to sex machine. Problem was, though I was devoted to music in general, I wasn’t particularly attached to one pop star or act over any others. Sure, I liked some songs more than others, but I didn’t sport band shirts or plaster my walls with band posters. If someone had then made a slightly cheeky shirt that simply said “MUSIC,” I would have worn that sucker out.