Guide to the ‘80s Impact on Pop Culture

The 1980s is the decade that saw major socioeconomic change due to advances in technology. This decade, for many people, is both awesome and horrible at the same time. If you grew up in the ‘80s, you know what a glorious time it was to be alive. But if you’re from a younger generation, you might be curious about how it feels living in this decade. 

The ‘80s were a time of great pop culture, including some of the best music, television shows, movies, and toys of all time. This decade is also often associated with nostalgia. Even today, the memories of the 1980s continue to live on. If you’d like to learn more about this decade, especially its effect on pop culture, read on as we’re giving you a guide to the ‘80s impact on pop culture. 

1980s Music

a cassette tape

Music back in the ‘80s was heavily produced more than anything. The classic 1980s sound includes huge reverbs of snare drums, electronic rhythms, synthesizers, and lots of delay on the vocals. This decade brought so much new variety when it comes to music, together with new genres. Until then, pretty much everything has been rock-based. 

In the ‘70s, heavy metal became more prominent, and pop music has always been in the mix. However, the ‘80s brought the world some new categories and variations that people haven’t heard before. When you think of the ‘80s music, most will think of Michael Jackson, who ruled over it all. In addition to that, you also think of Madonna and U2. 

The 1980s was also the era where Hip-Hop was introduced. It gave people New Wave music and Devo. It was also the time when we began seeing more house music, and as well as the growth of punk rock. Aside from that, Metallica and Death Metal also became popular in the ‘80s. 

Even though disco has long been dead, we still hear more synthesizer-based music and more electronic production. The ‘80s also still featured classic bands, such as Queen and the Rolling Stones, who found a new generation of fans. 

Music Television, or MTV, was launched in 1981, which forever changed the way society consumed music. Bands and artists adapted to this new way to present themselves in the new visual medium. Back in those days, album sales meant everything to artists, and it was where they really earn. 

If you’d like to learn more about music in the 1980s, here are some helpful links that you might want to check out:

1980s Television

There was a bunch of classic sitcoms that came out in the ‘80s. Certain nights like Thursdays and Fridays became must-watch nights for a lot of people because that is when they would stack a bunch of top shows together. If you’d like to know what everyone was talking about, you would not want to miss these nights. 

Some of the most popular TV shows in the 1980s include “Growing Pains,” “Family Ties,” “Full House,” “ALF,” “The Wonder Years,” “The A-Team,” “Knight Rider,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” and so much more. In addition to that, the ‘80s also had arguably the best cartoons of any decade. Some of these include “Transformers,” “G.I. Joe,” and “She-Ra,” to name a few. 

From 1985 to 1990, the number one show was the Cosby Show. In the present time, the highest-rated sitcoms at their very best can do about 15 to 18 million viewers. But that would not even put them in the top 30 back in the 1980s. With this, we can say that watching television is indeed one of the top trends in the ‘80s. 

If you’re looking for more references about television in the 1980s, here are some of the links to our articles about ‘80s television:

1980s Movies

VHS tapes

When it comes to movies, the 1980s is probably its golden age. It is the decade that gave the world some of the biggest movies of all time and gave popularity to the blockbuster. During these times, both story writing and special effects were improving at the same time, which gave everyone an awesome time. 

It is quite challenging to make a list of movies from the 80s. In fact, even a top ten list is quite impossible to make. It’s because there are just so many great movies in almost any category in the 1980s. One example is Star Wars. Its momentum and fandom took shape in the 80s with Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. 

The ‘80s can also be referred to as the “Spielberg era” because of the classics like ET, which was the highest moneymaker of the 80s movies, The Goonies, and the epic Indiana Jones movies. Aside from that, time travel movies were also on-trend in the ‘80s, such as Back to the Future and its epic sequel. 

With this, we can say that many movies today are inspired by the classic movies that were released in the ‘80s. We cannot list all the amazing movies of the ‘80s here, but if you’d like to learn more about them, you can check out these links to our articles about movies in the 1980s:

1980s Fashion

woman wearing 80s fashion

Among the decades in the past, there isn’t any other that gets mocked as much as the 80s do for fashion. It’s because when you think of the ‘80s, most people think about lots of fluorescent greens and pinks. During these times, there were lots of velvet scrunchies that are holding crimped hair. 

Converse high tops were still very popular in the ‘80s, as well as any white high-top basketball sneakers. The decade also had the epic acid wash jeans movement, and everyone seems to be wearing a belt pack of some sort. 

Other fashion trends in the ‘80s include bike shorts, leg warmers, and lots of spandex. People also wore baggy clothes, white Adidas shoes, and big gold chains popularized by RUN DMC. In addition to that, Cyndi Lauper popularized the punk style. It made almost everyone wear blazers and blouses with giant shoulder pads in them.

The 1980s were also defined by bright-colored accessories, such as hoop earrings, sunglasses, and bangles. Society’s love for the brand was also characterized in the 80s by wearing Coca-Cola brand clothing in 1987. 

If you’d like to learn more about fashion in the 1980s, here are a few links that might help:

1980s Sports

In the 1980s, sports were dominated by a few names, which will ring on in sports history forever. Some of these names include Joe Montana, who’s possibly the best quarterback of all time, Mike Tyson, the most feared boxer, and Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird, the best rivalry when it comes to sports. 

Baseball also had quite a variety of champions. Two of the best hitters in the game were George Brett and Robin Yount, while the most promising young pitcher since Bob Gibson was Dwight “Doc” Gooden. 

For amateur basketball, the 1980s was a decade of many different number one teams. These include Indiana, Duke, and DePaul. For professional basketball, some of the most prominent teams include the Los Angeles Lakers, the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, and the Boston Celtics. 1980 was also a year for young talent. Even though Magic was great, the Rookie of the Year Award was given to Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics. Jerry West, Oscar P. Robertson, and Jerry R. Lucas were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980. 

The 1980 Summer Olympics was also controversial. It was hosted by the Soviet Union in Moscow but was boycotted by many athletes and their countries. Jimmy Carter and the U.S. led sixty-five countries to refuse to participate in protest of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan. With this, there were only 80 countries that participated. 

If you’d like to get more information about sports in the 1980s, here are some interesting articles that you might want to read:

1980s Gaming

the Nintendo Entertainment System

Did you know that there was a time in the early 1980s when video games died, and no one wanted to be involved in their production? The early ‘80s were ruled by Atari. However, that leads to the great video game crash of 1983. It was because Atari had no control over the video games that were being released. It resulted in a lot of garbage that flooded the market. There were lots of awful games that turned off kids from playing them. With that, they became more interested in the new home computer that was introduced in the market, which was the Commodore 64.

In a few short years, the video game industry went from earning around 2 billion dollars to only 100 million. This made the video game industry crash, and companies dissociated themselves from anything related to video games. 

In 1889, Nintendo, which was an upstart company from Japan, entered the scene. It started as a trading card company, moved to electronics, and then into video games. In 1986, the company released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), which became the best-selling console of its time. This has changed the video game industry forever. 

In addition to NES, other gaming consoles were also introduced in the ‘80s, such as the Sega and Sega Genesis, along with some amazing games. Some of the best-selling video games of the ‘80s include Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Duck Hunt, Super Mario Land, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario Bros. 2, Pac-Man, The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and Excitebike and Pitfall.

You can learn more about gaming in the 1980s by reading the articles from these links:

1980s Travel

The 1980s was also a decade when postcards, pocket maps, and limitless packing were all the rage. It was quite difficult to imagine a time when people have the option to bring more than one bag to check-in. Back in the ‘80s, many airlines did not limit the amount of luggage that passengers can take on board. This means that you are allowed to squeeze your whole summer or winter wardrobe into three bags without worries. 

In the ‘80s, smoking was also allowed in airplanes. There were smoking and non-smoking areas on planes. However, even though they are restricted to a specific area, the smoke still managed its way through the whole aircraft. That’s why it is now banned. 

Suitcases back then also do not usually have wheels. This means that you need to carry them around when you travel, which does not make unlimited baggage allowance very appealing. Also, flying in the 80s was significantly more expensive compared to the present time. This means that boarding a plane back them was an extravagant affair. This is why most people who ride planes at that time only wore smart attire. 

Travelers’ cheques were also the cutting edge of technology in the 1980s. All you need to do is sign on the dotted line and collect your holiday money easily. This saved people from carrying bulky wallets. Also, paper maps were an actual thing in the 1980s. Unlike today that most people rely on GPS and maps on their smartphones, people back in the ‘80s used physical fold-out road maps when they travel. And if they fail to understand the map, asking for directions from other people was the next best option. 

If you’d like to learn more about traveling in the 1980s, here are a few articles that might help you:

1980s Technology

VHS player

The 1980s were also an interesting time when it comes to technology. In fact, it is a decade often remembered for its noteworthy contributions in shaping the tech of the future. Some of these include the rise of Sony Walkman and Trinitron TVs. It was also the decade when the Casio calculator watch became popular, and as well as the craze for the Video Home System or VHS. 

It was also in the ‘80s when Steve Jobs first revealed the Macintosh, which was how Apple told the world how to make a mass-market personal computer. We have also mentioned earlier the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES. In addition to that, Nintendo also released the very first Game Boy in 1989, and it shook up the video games market. 

The roots of the most popular computer operating system in the world can also be traced back to the ‘80s when Windows 1.0 was released in 1985. The start of the smartphone boom can also be seen in the 1980s with Motorola’s DynaTac 800x, which was released in 1983. It was probably the most famous among the early handsets. 

Also, for those who did not have a Walkman to play cassettes, there was a new breakthrough technology of CDs to keep people entertained. CDs were launched in 1982 following joint development by Philips and Sony. After this, CDs became the preferred format for music, entertainment, gaming, and storage. 

If you are interested to learn more about 1980s technology, here are some interesting articles that you might want to check out:


The 1980s decade was indeed very interesting. There were lots of trends back then that has major effects on the pop culture we have today. No wonder a lot of things from the ‘80s still hold up, most especially movies. The ‘80s music also seems to be even better than you remember. We hope this helps you learn more about the ‘80s impact on pop culture. To further provide you with information, here are some links to more articles about the 1980s: