White Music You Were Allowed To Like

Despite hip-hop ruling us in the 80s, and the general prohibition on "liking that white shit," there were always certain groups that broke through. No idea why. But among them were Tears For Fears. What I remember most about a song like "Shout" was how we remixed the lyrics to crack on each other.

Jeans were always a signifier of status for us. I remember rocking a pair of Wranglers, and having a buddy needle me all day by singing the theme song ("Here comes Wrangler and he's, one tough customer...") I don't think I wore a pair of Wranglers, like, ever. But than Wranglers worse were the flavor Lees, which, right along with Jack Purcells and Chuck Taylors. were dead when "Shout" came out. Whenever we saw someone in the halls with pair of Lees we'd go:

Shout, Shout. Those Lees are played out.
These are the things we could do without,
Come on...

Heh, kids are so inventive. You had to hit up High Energy, and get  your ass some Guess.

Still, for me at least, Tears For Fears held up. I always loved that part in the song after they sing the first hook, and the first verse drops. I don't know why it was OK to like them, but not, say, White Snake. In the early 80s, there were a lot more "white" bands that crossed over to us. But by, say, 1988 it was over. You had to be George Michael to make it through.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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