There’s just something about 1984.
Maybe it was the hairspray fumes, or maybe our tight jeans caused a permanent rush of blood to our heads, either way, mankind was certainly on a creative roll. Consider the evidence: These 30 things – all conceived that magical year – still remain as cool as ever.
1. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”
Everyone from the Backstreet Boys to Beyoncé have borrowed the King of Pop’s moves for their own dance numbers (and they’ll probably be doing it for years to come), but “Thriller” has always been more than just a brilliantly choreographed dance routine. The 13-minute video marked the coming together of the pop-music world and the film world. It’s also been called the most successful and influential music video of all time. But don’t take our word for it, just ask Jay Z: He pays lyrical homage to M.J.’s video in “Holy Grail,” his 2013 duet with Justin Timberlake.
Innocent video game or last-ditch effort by the Soviets to distract us and win the Cold War? Whatever the reason behind its creation, Tetris is a game we’ve been addicted to for a long time – even more so now that there’s a smartphone version we can carry around in our pockets.
A good sign that something’s still the best decades after its debut? Hollywood tries to remake it. Try watching the original 1984 version of Footloose. You’ll find that it really holds up. Then try watching the 2011 remake. No, seriously. Just try.
4. Madonna’s VMA performance
It might seem tame these days, but here’s why Madonna’s floor-humping live rendition of “Like a Virgin” was and still is the best: 1) no animals were harmed in the making of this performance; 2) no foam fingers were defiled; and 3) no one had to put in a complaint to MTV’s HR department. But the best part about Madge’s VMA act? For the past 30 years, all other performers have been trying to top the shock value it had. Now that’s good entertainment.
Yet another thing to thank Madonna for. The Material Girl ushered in the head-to-toe lace look in ’84 and is still influencing us to adopt the trend in the 21st century (see: her 2010 campaign for Dolce and Gabanna).
While you may have trouble imagining a world before Mac products, the first Apple Macintosh personal computer hit the market just 30 years ago. Today, there’s a good chance you’ve got one on your desk, on your bedside table and/or in your pocket. There’s also a good chance you’ve been royally embarrassed by one…
7. Police Academy
A comedy so bad that it really is so good. While critics may have panned it, audiences (you know, the people Hollywood makes movies for?) loved Police Academy. Canadians have a particular connection to the film: It was shot in Hamilton, Ont., and Toronto and stars B.C. native Kim Cattrall. Not convinced? Catch it (followed by Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment) Saturday, August 30th at 9:30 p.m. ET on Much and you’ll see what we mean.
8. Your crush on Bill Murray
Bill Murray crushes everywhere were solidified and set in stone after the actor played the oddly charming Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters. Since then, Murray has proved himself one of the most lovable humans on the planet time and time again. Either that, or he’s hypnotized us into thinking he is….
9. ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’
Still the best three decades after Cyndi Lauper did it: bedroom dance parties, missing your curfew and asymmetrical haircuts. Pro tip: Have the DJ play this song at any wedding and watch the dance floor fill to capacity.
10. John Hughes
The filmmaker entered our lives in 1984 with his directorial debut Sixteen Candles thus altering the self-confidence levels of teenage misfits and social outcasts everywhere.
11. Alex Trebek
Jeopardy‘s Canadian host stepped up to the quiz-show podium in 1984 and has been demanding that answers come in the form of a question ever since. Talk continues to circulate about Trebek’s retirement but the Guinness World Record-holding game show host hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. If he does decide to step down, however, we know someone who might at least come close to filling his shoes.
12. Who’s the Boss?
This one’s for the single working moms out there (and the kids they raised). Judith Light ‘s divorced-ad-exec character was one of the first single TV mothers to be featured in a mainstream show. The fact that her housekeeper/nanny was a man (a former professional athlete at that) completed the gender-role swap. (Rumours about Tony Danza being a total diva on set helped shake up gender stereotypes, too!)
13. Revenge of the Nerds
In case you hadn’t noticed, nerds are the new cool kids. Enough said.
Reconnect with the four-eyed guys who started it all this Labour Day, when Much airs Revenge of the Nerds and Revenge of the Nerds II back to back, starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.
14. Virgin Atlantic
Richard Branson – ahem – Sir Richard Branson, brought record-store-cool cache to the airline industry when he partnered with Randolph Fields and Alan Hellary back in (you guessed it!) 1984. Virgin was the first airline to put those little personal entertainment units into the backs of headrests, and Branson was the first airline executive to appear in a James Bond movie (2006’s Casino Royale). He’s also working to improve the environment in two big ways: The first centres on reducing the carbon footprint of airplanes by experimenting with algae-based bio-fuels; the second involves sending Justin Bieber into outer space.
15. MAC cosmetics
The brainchild of Canadian entrepreneurs Frank Angelo and Frank Toscan, MAC originated 30 years ago and was available at just a single Toronto department store counter. The company has since branched out to 529 free-standing stores and counters in nearly every department store worth its foundation. They’ve collaborated with everyone from Lorde to Missy Elliot to Wonder Woman. If you wear makeup, odds are you’ve got something MAC-made in your beauty arsenal. Russian Red lipstick, anyone?
16. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)
We’re referring to the 30-year-old comic book series by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, not the original movies or the recent remake (although the fact that Michael Bay saw fit to sink $125 million into the Turtles’ big comeback does speak to their total radicalness). TMNT is easily one of the most successful comics of all time. (Remember the Ninja Turtles concert tour in the early ’90s? We’re pretty sure Batman never played Radio City Music Hal.l) The good news is that along with the movie reboot, the comic has gotten a reboot as well — and it’s great.
Everyone wanted to take lessons after seeing Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid (and reading the TMNT comics), especially this little guy:
Natalie Portman’s character in Closer proclaimed that lying was the most fun a girl could have without taking her clothes off. If you’ve ever played the board game Balderdash, you’ll know this to be true. Balderdash was created by two Canadians and has encouraged us to bluff, fib and unabashedly lie to our parents, relatives and friends for 30 years now — and nothing’s caught fire yet!
19. Slogan t-shirts
Though they’re completely ubiquitous now, there was a time when people didn’t advertise their politics or personal philosophies on their t-shirts. That all changed when British designer Katharine Hamnett came on the scene. Her “Choose Life” tee – meant as a statement against drug abuse and suicide – was worn by George Michael in Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” video, and a long-lasting trend was born.
20. The mockumentary
Filmmakers had been parodying the documentary style since the mid-sixties, but it wasn’t until Rob Reiner and Christopher Guest made 1984’s This is Spinal Tap that the genre really became popular — that is, once audiences realized that Spinal Tap wasn’t a real band.
21. John Galliano’s designs
Since his 2011 criminal charges resulting from a drunken, antisemitic outburst, John Galliano has emerged from rehab to issue various public apologies. People like Anna Wintour and Oscar de la Renta have seemingly accepted them (like sports and politics, the fashion world loves a comeback). We’ll see if the customers follow suit. Personal feelings about the man aside, his 1984 debut collection and the work that followed (for Givenchy, Christian Dior and his own eponymous label) has been hugely influential on the trends that trickle down to those of us who don’t dress in couture to go to the grocery store.
22. Banned chart-topping songs
In 1984 the BBC saw fit to ban “I’m on Fire” by Bruce Springsteen, “I’ll Fly For You” by Spandau Ballet, and “Two Tribes” and “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. All four songs charted in the Top 10 in Britain and elsewhere, and we’re still listening to them today — especially this one:
23. The Cosby Show
More than just the most popular sitcom of the decade, Bill Cosby’s half-hour family comedy shut down racial stereotypes, opened doors for shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Everybody Hates Chris, and spawned ugly-sweater office parties across North America. We also learned some sweet dance moves from the ever-changing opening credit sequence.
24. Hulk Hogan
Hulkamania is born! In 1984 Hogan took down The Iron Sheik and became the WWF champ for the first of six times. Now, 30 years later, the man is still going: He hosted Wrestlemania XXX this past February and arm-wrestled Rob Ford late in the summer of 2013.
25. Transformers toys
Having a car that turned into a robot and back was nothing short of some kind of awesome magic for ’80s kids, but Transformers are one of those rare toys that have maintained their appeal for decades. The line has grown to include Star Wars Transformers, Transformers based on Marvel Comics characters and even a Buzz Lightyear Transformer. Turns out that “more than meets the eye” was a huge understatement.
26. Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without A Face” video
Released in the summer of ’84, Idol’s multiple MTV Award-winning video took three very long days to shoot. When it wrapped, the singer found that he couldn’t take his contact lenses out: They were stuck to his corneas and had to be removed by a doctor. Idol spent three days with bandages over his peepers — essentially, a face without eyes.
27. Fitness-craze fashion
Pop quiz: You’re getting on a plane — what kind of pants do you have on? Leggings, right? Thank the mid-eighties when you’re cruising at an altitude of 40,000 feet in comfort and style. Gym wear became fashionable back then and hasn’t faded from favour since. Just look at Nicki Minaj‘s new (very) NSFW video for proof!
28. Axel Foley
The highest-grossing movie of 1984 featured a fast-talking, quick-witted Detroit cop played by Saturday Night Live regular Eddie Murphy. Beverly Hills Cop earned an Oscar nomination for Best Writing and spawned three sequels (the fourth is due out in 2016), all of which you can catch Sunday, August 31, starting at 5:30 p.m. ET on Much. Most importantly, Axel Foley made Murphy a hugely popular star — even Arcade Fire are fans.
29. Purple Rain
Check any list of the greatest albums of all time and you’ll find Prince‘s sixth record among them. Four out of the 10 tracks (“When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and “Let’s Go Crazy”) made it into the Top 10 on North American charts. It’s the kind of record you can play for your kids and not have them beg you to switch it to Katy Perry. Now if we could all just agree that Prince is the only one allowed to use “U,” “4,” and “2” to stand in for you, for and to.
Speaking of awesome music…
Back in ’84, Much was “everything you need”; today, it’s all that and more. Happy 30th Birthday, Much! You’re still the best.
Still feel like celebrating? Don’t miss 30 Years of Much, premiering Saturday, August 30 at 9 p.m. ET on Much (natch). The must-see 30-minute special revisits the biggest moments in the channel’s history (e.g. that time Marky Mark stripped down to his underwear on live TV and made you feel things) with a little help from the VJs and musicians who made it all happen.