Tangent Sunset

The History of Conscious Music by Alex Cosper

Bigger Than The Ego


Many of the mid-eighties pop hits tried to have a hint of enlightenment. The movie The Breakfast Club uncovered a lot of high school hang-ups and its theme "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds was a timeless classic about self-consciousness and the fear of being forgotten. More importantly, it was about confrontation. While most love songs deal with existing relationships, this song seemed to be about trying to force an imaginary relationship to become real. The view of the storyteller was incredibly self-centered, but the beauty of it was in its innocence of reaching out gambling with trust. The song also had a hypnotic, wandering melody.

But the decade would actually feature several songs that went beyond personal scenarios and commented on a bigger community. The Pretenders had a few politically-minded hits such as "Middle Of The Road" and "My City Was Gone." "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" by Tears For Fears took on a more subtle understated tone about power-crazed political leaders, equating them with madness. Their song "Shout" was probably more direct about resistance to fascism. They had a Beatles-sounding hit that resembled "I Am The Walrus" called "Sowing The Seeds Of Love" which was one of the most stream of consciousness songs of the decade.

Another surreal record that sounded Beatle-inspired was "Let's Go All The Way" by Sly Fox, which featured metaphors that called for world peace. The Crowded House hit "Don't Dream It's Over" touched on building self confidence and keeping the dream of world peace alive, despite a violent world. Depeche Mode had a string of dark electronic hits that addressed conscious themes such as the anti-hate song "People Are People." They also had one of the most haunting and mind opening songs ever called "Blashphemous Rumours," which spoke of a god laughing at the world. XTC had an even more counter-religious song called "Dear God," which accused the deity of allowing disease and war.

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