In case you were vacationing under a rock last week, Taylor Swift released a catchy new single, “Shake It Off,” and announced a forthcoming LP called 1989. We can’t wait to hear the whole album, which the singer says was inspired by all of the great pop music from the year of her birth. She has called the late 1980s “a time of limitless potential,” full of “bright colors, bold choices, [and] rebellion.” Her new video even pays homage to some trends from that era, with Swift incorporating b-boys and Toni Basil-style cheerleading into the clip.
While Swift is totally right about music’s high points in 1989, we started to have flashbacks about some of the moments that should definitely stay in the past. Whether cheesy fads or serious snubs, there are things we hope Swift doesn’t touch upon as she shows props for her birth year. Considering she was only alive for 18 days of the ’80s, we’d decided to make her a handy list of musical moments to avoid at all costs!
1. David Hasselhoff performed at the Berlin Wall.
We look back at 1989 as the year the Eastern Bloc began to fall. Communist governments in Europe were toppled and the West couldn’t have been happier. It appears Knight Rider star David Hasselhoff traveled to the crumbling Berlin Wall, perhaps as an ambassador of good will, for a performance to mark the new era of freedom. Even though the video above is pretty grainy, you can tell the Hoff’s piano-keyed scarf and LED jacket smack of `80s cheesiness.
2. Paula Abdul introduced the world to an animated rapping cat.
As rap music began one of its most pivotal eras in 1989, there were sure to be some novelty acts capitalizing off of the genre. In that vein, Paula Abdul featured MC Skat Kat, a cartoon feline, in her video for “Opposites Attract.” The rapper who performed Skat Kat’s vocals went on to do an entire album as the animated character in 1991. If that’s not a bad idea, we don’t know what is.
3. Cher wore a fishnet bodysuit on a U.S. battleship.
Though Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” is a classic, we can’t get down on the fashion from the video. Unlike Cher herself, the outfit hasn’t aged well. Let’s hope no one has the gall to rock a fishnet bodysuit with a garter belt and teased hair — in front of the U.S. Navy — ever again.
4. Pepsi canned Madonna.Madonna’s video for “Like A Prayer” caused tons of controversy, with the pop star using religious imagery in her sultry clip. Madge had signed a promotional deal with Pepsi, and the soft drink giant quickly scrapped plans to feature her in a commercial. We’re still not over the way that the Queen Of Pop was taken down.
5. Whitney Houston got booed at the Soul Train Awards.Apparently, many R&B fans thought Whitney Houston had squarely defected to the pop genre by 1989. During the Soul Train Awards that year, audience members booed as Houston’s name was announced as a nominee in a female vocalist category. We all know that the singer eventually had her problems, but was there really any need to publicly boo a legend?
6. Jethro Tull won a Grammy in the Hard Rock/Metal category.Just as the National Academy For Recording Arts And Sciences began to recognize hard rock and metal in 1989, the organization angered fans when they picked prog rock band Jethro Tull over Metallica to win a new category dedicated to the genres. At least NARAS soon realized its lame mistake — hard rock and metal were given separate categories in 1990.
7. Stars rocking huge glam metal hair.Though we love hard rock, we can’t co-sign those teased tresses. By the time the `90s rolled around, fans were glad they didn’t have to breathe in all that hairspray when they went to see their favorite bands perform live.
8. Milli Vanilli tricked us into thinking they were pop’s next big thing.
European soul duo Milli Vanilli blew up on the charts in 1989. Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus had already seen success with their hit single, “Girl You Know It’s True,” when it was first released in 1988, and the guys ended up with four songs on Billboard’s year-end Hot 100 chart for 1989. However, since the two were eventually outed as lip syncers in 1990, we sort of wish they’d never strung us along in the first place.
9. Donny Osmond attempted to make a comeback.
Hoping to shed the squeaky clean image he had as a child star, Donny Osmond aimed for true pop domination in 1989. He released a single, “Soldier Of Love,” reportedly under a marketing campaign that initially billed him as a virtually unknown artist. By the time fans knew he was behind the hit song, they were already hooked. When judging from the video above, it really just looks like Osmond jacked George Michael’s swagger.
10. Rob Lowe sang during a cringeworthy musical number at the Oscars.
Check in around the 4:55 mark of this video to watch actor Rob Lowe perform a medley with an actress playing Snow White. There’s actually a part where they perform a cover of “Proud Mary.” After watching this, you should thank your lucky stars Lowe never tried to put out an album.