Just like Marty McFly in “Back to the Future Part II,” these current pop, rock and dance hits sound like they’ve traveled from 1989. Whether you’re an ’80s baby or a lover of throwback-ish tunes, these modern-day, ’80s-esque synth-pop masterpieces were made for the time traveler in us all.
“Rollercoaster” — Bleachers
If there’s anyone to blame for the synth-pop revival, it’s Jack Antonoff. Not only did he co-write and co-produce three tracks off Taylor Swift’s aptly titled 1989, but he also succeeded in releasing an album of full-on ’80s-inspired indie-pop hits with his band Bleachers’ 2014 album, Strange Desire. This track, “Rollercoaster,” is upbeat and optimistic, and sounds like it could be the intro song to any of the classic John Hughes films we all know and love.
“Emotion” — Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest album, Emotion, is a godsend for fans of fun, dance-inducing pop music. The title track gives off some early Madonna vibes, mixed in with “straight up” Paula Abdul. And no worries, Carly Rae: We’ll definitely be calling you back after listening to this album of catchy hits.
“Lonely Town” — Brandon Flowers
After the Killers’ 2012 album, Battle Born, which was jam-packed with tracks reminiscent of ’80s arena rock, the band’s lead singer, Brandon Flowers, took that retro influence to a whole other level with his new-wave-inspired solo album, The Desired Effect. “Lonely Town” perfectly melds familiar ’80s sounds to modern-technology-inspired techniques, from the song’s sultry saxophone introduction to the Kanye-esque auto-tuned bridge.
“Headspace” — The Wombats
Indie rockers the Wombats’ 2015 album, Glitterbug, sounds like the ’80s new-wave British invasion. Lead singer Matthew Murphy’s relaxed drawl as he complains, “Headspace / I need a route of my headspace / Cause it’s a war in here,” sounds somewhat similar to Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan. Maybe it’s the British accent?
“New Romantics” — Taylor Swift
Although it was released as a bonus track on only selected versions of the album, “New Romantics” outshines most of the songs on Taylor Swift’s infamous 1989. From the low, near-whispered verses to the transcendent chorus, Swift truly captures the youthful optimism that surrounded both the ’80s and the modern day with her triumphant lyrics: “I could build a castle / Out of all the bricks they threw at me … / We are too busy dancing / To get knocked off our feet / Baby, we’re the new romantics / The best people in life are free.”
Rosemarie Alejandrino is the assistant arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].