How did 70s rock music transition into 80s music?

80s music appeared to be a re-visitation of the beginning of Rock — when "singles" ruled the AM radio. In those early days, in the event that a craftsman had a hit, he/she could get to record an "collection" (when those modern LP records appeared). A LP could have two hits and 10 tunes of forgettable filler melodies. Most craftsmen were characterized by their hit singles.

The 60s and 70s saw an ascent in FM radio and AOR (Album Oriented Rock) which gave numerous specialists the opportunity to make bigger works, or gatherings of melodies which frequently remained all in all work, and empowered a more extended tuning in/focus time. Beside funk and disco dance hits, the 70s inclined towards Album Oriented Rock.

The 80s saw a swing away from longer works and AOR, and back towards snappy singles. I'd say MTV had a great deal to do with the progress to 80s music. ("Video killed the radio star"):

MTV presented many gatherings who had fantastic singles, yet probably won't have accomplished acknowledgment without MTV video openness: Squeeze, The Vapors, Duran, Adam and the Ants, the B-52s, The Cars — to give some examples. (Note, I said "may" — yet that is my hypothesis.)
MTV constrained many long settled stars — David Bowie, Rod Stewart, even The Rolling Stones — to make video-commendable tunes. (That is — SINGLES.)
Peter Gabriel is a story regardless of anyone else's opinion. He was genuinely known from his Genesis Days — yet those astonishing recordings of "For sure" and "Demolition hammer" certainly kicked him into the super frightening.
MTV — after a ton of asking, cajoling, and dangers — at last changed their bigoted whites-just strategy, and began broadcasting recordings by people like Michael Jackson and Prince — presenting various dark craftsman to a lot bigger crowd.
In outline, I think MTV during the 80s — and later the Internet and YouTube — abbreviated individuals' capacity to focus, made a market weighty on short snappy singles, and made it progressively hard for craftsman to make "collections" which would allow them an opportunity to introduce their bigger vision.


One factor in the change between 1970’s music and 1980’s music comes down to a change in generational priorities of the listeners.

A teacher-councillor that I knew said to me, in the 1980’s, “You don’t understand. They aren’t like your generation; that’s all gone. They don’t have that spirit of individualism or free thinking or rebellion. They come to me for advice and ask, ‘What’s the job that’ll make me the most money?’”

Unfortunately, change is the only constant in life.  Like it or not, neither time nor the culture stands still.

Just read that Facebook is "out" with the younger generation...soon another thing will be popular, just like any fad or "thing" that changes with each generation.

As for music, my parents did NOT understand my complete fascination with Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show that night, or why I watched Bandstand to see the performers, who were hard to see in those days unless you went to a live show.

This is the beauty of recorded music; we can choose to enjoy whatever we like.  In the classic car hobby, it is well known by sellers that people tend to buy the car they loved when they were younger and could not afford.

As a great teen/parent newspaper comic strip bubble once printed, "The malt shop closed a long time ago, Archie."

Bubbles break all the time...

I think the claim that the 80's were fueled by the need to move away from prog, was vastly overstated.

I think it was more to do with bands like Journey, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, etc. Prog bands like Van Der Graaf Generator, Peter Hammill, Magma, Henry Cow had a pretty big following among the musicians of the more experimental side of the 80's (PiL, Random Hold, This Heat, etc.).

Also, prog is a lot more than what is depicted by ELP, Rick Wakeman wearing capes. So, tagging all prog with the words like: pomp, noodling, self-absorbed, etc., is not very accurate. Unless of course, one's only valid definition of "rock", is a stripped down, 3 chord, 4/4, musical form that requires extensive youthful energy, anger, alienation to convey.

I was equally not a fan of most of the mainstream rock of the 70's, as I as of the rock of the 80's. Because, once the surface "style" is stripped away, structurally, it was all, 3 chord, 4/4, verse>chorus>bridge>repeat song structure. And that bores me, whether it is in the 'style' of: punk, the Stones, New Wave, Eagles, Journey, etc, 

I want: a very high level of musicianship, complexity, deep and broad range of emotional and intellectual content, avoidance of verse>chorus>bridge song structure.

When the punk/New Wave vs 70's rock fray happened, I was working at a well known record store here in LA called, Moby Disc. They totally embraced punk and New Wave, specializing in importing obscure and rare releases from all over the world. The store was a major destination for punks and others to buy their hard to find records. 

And I certainly remember the (usually friendly) arguments between punks, New Wavers, SKA, Rockabilly fans about the superiority of their preferred genres. But I was a complete outsider to these discussions, because to me, they were all arguing over kind of small differences between genres, that, at their core, were really more similar than different. 

There are plenty of punk covers of 70's rock songs (Journey and the Eagles have plenty), but could one imagine a punk cover of the complexities of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic", "Dreams Wide Awake" by National Health, "Köhntarkösz" by Magma, or "Inca Roads" by Zappa?



One factor in the change between 1970’s music and 1980’s music comes down to a change in generational priorities of the listeners.


Elusive qualities such as the so called 'spirit of the age' are extremely difficult to pin down and they often get deleted from the history books.

One of those 'you had to be there' things.

@simonmoon -- Hey, I was a regular at Moby's. Excellent selection and interesting stuff played on the store's hi-fi. I may be imagining things, too, but do I remember a very interesting if small selection of classical?