Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Revenge of Retro

At the start of this year, I had two main predictions: (1) This would essentially be a boring year where nothing happens, (2) All things retro will make a comeback.

You could say that prediction #1 was more of wishful thinking on my part. I had enough excitement the past few years and for a change, wanted a quiet easy-going next twelve months.

But prediction #2 was more of a hunch based on some perceived trends where we seemed to be going back to simpler, older stuff, as much of our pop culture had gotten too complicated. Plus, it was also a bit of wishful thinking as by now, most of you know I am a huge retro fan (as are many of my closest friends).

Firstly, I was mildly pleased to see Martina Hingis make a tennis comeback this year. She even has a chance to win the French Open. I think I stopped watching tennis after both she and Michael Chang retired.

We also get to hear a lot more of the europop music that was very popular in the 80's. They still don't capture the mainstream (much "popular" music we hear on the radio is still crap), but at least it is a step in the right direction. European-based music is where it's at, I believe. It's like a cycle, where they peaked in the late 80's, then lying low for a decade or two before eventually returning. I want to see a new British invasion.

But the 'aha' moment for me was when the underdog Nintendo Wii turned out to be the biggest hit in the last E3. Gamers lined up for hours to get a chance to try out the simpler, more fun Wii, with its simple yet innovative controller. I also liked that the new Nintendo will allow us to download and play all the old school Nintendo games. So now you can play old school Excitebike and the newer ExciteTruck on the same system! Plus, it looks like Duck Hunt will be getting a makeover too. What's amazing is that gamers love it. I hope this encourages game developers to focus more on fun and less on graphics and shooting.

Another good thing is the upcoming release of Will Wright's Spore. You may remember Will Wright as the creator of SimCity and The Sims. His new game encompasses the evolution of a new species. You start as a small organism, evolve into a land creature, form tribes, develop new technology and skills, conquer the planet, and eventually colonize the stars. Spore has the potential to be the most amazing game ever made.

Couch Entertainment is going retro too. I have recently cut down my TV in favor of listening to podcasts over the internet. A podcast is essentially an online radio show. This reminds me when I was younger, I would listen to the radio every school night. My favorites were the call-in talk shows where hosts and people discuss the issues of the day. I also liked this radio station (RK 96 if I remember), where the DJs actually discussed the songs that are played. Plus, every Friday was 'retro night'. Now it seems strange to have a retro night back in the 80's when we were essentially in a retro era. Still that was a great time. And I was very disappointed when one of the local stations here that used to play 80's songs all weekend switched to a new programming format that had limited new wave play.

Even the Internet seems to be in a renaissance phase. You've got all these great websites (, and others) that allow you to discover great music and catch up on a lot of the oldies that were fun to listen to before and still great to listen to now. I will post some of my youtube favorites in a future article.

Retro is back, man. And it's only going to get better in the future. Especially when an entirely new era of 'retro' takes hold, and we find ourselves once again reliving the old retro while living in the new one.


roehl said...

martina hingis is reminding me more and more of a rough version of natalie portman.

retro seems to be in full swing indeed. the 80s band the cars are back with a new vocalist and they now call themselves the new cars. cheap trick is also back with a new album.

i think the artists of the 80s, 70s, etc are starting to realize the impact they have made in the lives of people so they return in the hopes that they can touch more lives.

rob said...

I'm looking for the new artists too to start making better music and take more chances with their craft. One theory is that there is a lot of good music still being made, just not publicized in the radio stations. So I have to resort to looking for them in odd places such as, youtube, etc. Hopefully with the internet, lots of this good stuff that is hidden become more widely available.