Nostalgia can be a curious beast. While some things are certainly worthy of the rose-tinted-specs treatment – your first love, your wedding day, the time you totally beat those noobs with the rocket launcher on ‘Battlefield 3′ and then ranted excitedly to your girlfriend, who just shook her head in regretful disdain – sometimes the past should stay buried in the past. It may have seemed like a good idea to buy that Spin Doctors album back in 1993, but look at the scenario objectively. Was it? Well? Was it? Where are your ‘Two Princes’ now, huh? Huh?
Ahem. We’re only broaching the subject because today saw an interesting announcement: that 1980s UK hitmakers Stock, Aitken and Waterman are getting ‘the gang’ back together for a special reunion gig which will see their roster of stars hitting the stage once more. Who does this roster of stars include? Well … Jason Donovan, Bananarama, Sinitta, Dead Or Alive, Steps and Rick Astley. Not exactly The Who reforming for Live Aid, is it?
Oh, look – we know it’s very easy to be snobby. We’re in no way decrying lightweight pop music as an art form. Not everything the ‘Hit Factory’ (the label applied to themselves by producers Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman) did was terrible. Everyone has gleefully danced to ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)’ at some point in their lives. The career of Kylie Minogue has seen some genuinely decent moments, such as ‘Confide In Me’.
And then there’s this:
Yep, that’s right – Stock, Aitken and Waterman were indirectly responsible for the ‘Rick-rolling’ phenomenon, which means that we should at least give them some credit for all the internet lulz they gave us back in 2007. Still: would anyone really want to attend a revival gig featuring such acts?
Kylie aside, the pop-culture impact of The Hit Factory’s line-up has been negligible at best – so this reunion event lacks the kitsch factor of watching now-unfashionable pop acts who defined an era. Despite their bluster and bravado, Stock, Aitken and Waterman were seen as a joke even at the height of their fame. What would be the possible benefit of seeing their acts in 2012?
There’s nothing wrong with the nostalgia rush of chatting about awful 80s pop with your friends over a few beers. But actively reviving it? Paying money (that could go to new, exciting artists) to watch artists you know for a fact are, well, utter garbage? That’s irony hyperdrive; sneering post-modernism gone too far. Remember – The Hit Factory once described the people who bought their records as “ordinary people with Woolworth ears”. It doesn’t matter if you’re giving them cash ‘ironically’ or not – you’re still giving them cash.
So: what do you guys think? Can nostalgia sometimes be exploited for dubious reasons? Or is this all a bit of harmless fun?