The ’80s seems like the decade that won’t die—and maybe deservedly so. For all of its neon flash and pastel gawkiness, the era did produce some indelible pop culture. In honor of Comedy Central’s newest animated series, “Moonbeam City,” which is an absurdist take on the gritty, sex-drenched crime dramas from the 1980s, here’s a “mixtape” of modern songs that all have that Day-Glo influence running through them. Fire up these tracks to get yourself in the mood for Moonbeam City, which airs Wednesdays 10:30/9:30c on Comedy Central and on the Comedy Central APP.
Trashy ’80s romance needs a pulsing electronic groove, the kind Peter Gabriel churned out in his sleep. But add a dollop of sultry female pop vocals on top, along with some marimbas (nothing said pop music in the ’80s like some world-music instruments, right, Paul Simon?), and you’ve got this delicious ditty by Christine And The Queens. It’s the most fitting pop throwback to lurid love since Stacey Q’s “Two Of Hearts” did it the first time.
The ’80s were bigger, louder, glitzier, more. Even the cops in Miami Vice were defiantly loud. Walking the beat, then, needs a big beat, and it doesn’t get much bigger than Coast’s “Modern Love.” Dance-floor rhythms combined with U2-style arena-rock bombast? More, please.
The Minneapolis funk sound popularized by Prince and others was the soundtrack for many a late-night ’80s party. Whether you’re an innocent patron or the detective staking it out, “You’re Not Good Enough” would be the soundtrack to that sexed-up club scene.
If you’re looking for the spirit of the ’80s, then why not turn to Mr. Knight Rider himself, David Hasselhoff? He provides the vocals on Mitch Murder’s lead single for the Swedish short film Kung Fury, itself an homage to all things ’80s.
No journey back to the era of fanny packs and Jordache jeans would be complete without a sensuous slow jam that still makes your speakers vibrate. Tamaryn’s ode to bodies (and the hands that should be on them) is the perfect song to unwind after a day on the mean streets.
This massive sounds like it could’ve sprung whole from some long-lost 1985 Top 10 chart. Infectious and driving, even the most hard-bitten detectives can get caught up in the power of this track when they’re looking to cut loose.
These sisters have ’80s rock coursing through their bloodstream, so naturally, this list wouldn’t be complete without them. “The Wire” has the energy and sass of the best of that decade’s pop-rock.
The ’80s weren’t all electronic bleeps and boops. There was a wave of guitar-based pop going on, and this slice of sunny, Go-Gos-meets-Blondie razzmatazz captures the sound of the era’s beach-party rock and roll. Best of all, you don’t even have to drink a can of Tab.
Every playlist needs its anthem, and “Rollercoaster” is the right one for this ’80s party. Headed by fun.’s Jack Antonoff, Bleachers’ ode to unstoppable girls is guaranteed to get the Reeboks moving and the scrunchies bouncing.
Lest we forget, the ’80s were also the shining apex of hair metal, that scurrilous hard-rock offspring. No soundtrack of the decade would be complete with music that carries on the proud legacies of Poison, Warrant, and Mötley Crüe. So let’s end with a song that any hard-edged cop would be proud to blast during a high-speed chase: “Lucky 13” by The Last Vegas. It’s the sound of pure butt rock, and it kicks ass.
To show just how well these songs would fit, watch our Moonbeam City-inspired clip below.
Check out new episodes of Moonbeam City (tonight) on Wednesdays at 10:30/9:30c on Comedy Central or anytime on the Comedy Central App.