by Jeff Meier (FB: Jeff.Meier.90)
Heading into a hot summer weekend a few weeks ago, Good Black News brought you a mellow, all-day playlist of ’70s slow jams (click here if you haven’t checked it out yet).
Since so many responded to it, we decided to follow it up with a playlist for the ’80s generation to call its own. Thus, on this warm late-July weekend, we happily offer you a throwback “quiet storm” collection: “Ultimate ’80s Champagne Slow Jams.”
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Following the civil rights-infused, raw, expansive, pioneering music of the ’70s, the ’80s found soul music veering towards more urbane and sophisticated sounds. Smooth adult soul was the name of the game, with polished veteran artists like Dionne Warwick, Patti Labelle, The Isley Brothers, Melba Moore, Gladys Knight, Michael Jackson all hitting new career highs more than a decade into their illustrious careers.
Many of the decade’s most celebrated newcomers – Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Sade, Anita Baker, Freddie Jackson, to name a few – were also decked out in fine fashions, singing ballads that married the lush instrumentation of Philly Soul with the new smooth jazz grooves.
The ’80s were also the peak decade for the superstar duet – from Teena Marie & Rick James to Patti Austin & James Ingram to Kashif & Meli’sa Morgan to Dennis Edwards & Siedah Garrett – and our playlist has all the ones you remember.
But BET’s Midnight Love video show wasn’t only packed with slick romance for “grown folks” – the ’80s also had a cavalcade of teen stars working to replicate Michael Jackson/Jackson 5-level superstardom.
Fresh from the pages of Right On Magazine came Stacy Lattisaw & Johnny Gill, New Edition, The Jets, the DeBarge family and Tracie Spencer, among others. Of course, the most successful of those teens was Janet Jackson – and she’s here along with other Minneapolis Sound stars like SOS Band and Human League, all inspired by the one and only Prince, during his premiere pre-symbol peak years.
In the years before hip hop gained a mainstream foothold on the charts, the ’80s provided many of the jams that would ultimately be sampled by rappers – so you can hear some of the underlying inspirations of Notorious B.I.G., Eric B & Rakim, and LL Cool J – along with LL Cool J himself, with the first enormous hip-hop slow jam, “I Need Love.”
Musically, the ’80s also represented the decade where spiritual messages met more traditional soul balladry in a new kind of contemporary gospel that felt at home on R&B radio. Our playlist closes with a set of tracks from The Winans, Howard Hewett, Tramaine Hawkins, The Clark Sisters and others.
So, calling all you ’80s people, whether you’re slipping into a warm bath by candlelight, sipping champagne at sunset on a yacht or imagining yourself doing so, or maybe just seeking a mellow playlist as background to your umpteenth day sheltering in place – we’ve got you covered.
In fact, it’s a mega-playlist long enough to fill most of your weekend waking hours without repeat – you can set it and forget it. Hope you enjoy!