The 80’s resurgence – Carlos Keyes

Carlos Keyes is a driving force in the resurgence of 1980’s music. The former member of the 1980’s pop duo Babie and Keyes is currently the founder and President of Red Entertainment, a leading entertainment talent agency. With more than 25 years of knowledge as a performer, promoter, and talent recruiter, The Red Entertainment Agency was created in 2002, and has an experienced and reputable team working side by side. Already managing the careers of the elite roster of musical artists, Carlos Keyes expanded his firm to film and television markeCarlos Keyes has worked with some of the best entertainers of the showbiz, such as Steven Seagal and Charlie Wilson. Even in the position of the President of the company, he still works as an agent, handling  booking duties and organizing international tours for the agency’s talents.

Carlos Keyes is one of the organizers of the Regeneration Tour that has sold out dozens of venues in the past years, and the 2004 Soul Divas Tour, which presented the legendary singers Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, and Natalie Cole, both part of the recent resurgence of 1980’s-era music all over the world.

The 1980s music

The 1980s saw a change in its music scenario with the emergence of new wave and dance music as also the decadence of disco, says Carlos Keyes. You probably will remember the 80’s for the increase in the  practice of digital recording, and the usage of synthesizers. Many electronic genres, including electro, techno and house, had its beginning in this era, featuring non-traditional instruments, what just increased the popularity of the music.

Throughout the decade, many music genres became more popular and were able to conquer their space in the limelight. According to Carlos Keyes, we had the advent of the golden age of hip hop; rock music divided itself once more, and music with shred guitar characterized by heavy distortion and pinch harmonics like glam and thrash metal became very popular, with glam rock becoming the most commercially successful brand of music worldwide; smooth jazz also gained popularity.

Carlos Keyes says that what most people remembers about that decade is the popularity of Michael Jackson, the first African American artist to have a video on MTV, and who launch in 1982 the considered best-selling album of all time, Thriller;  the emergence of Madonna, the most successful female artist of the decade with various albums on the best-selling list, like True Blue, Like a Virgin and Like a Prayer; the powerhouse ballads of Whitney Houston; and the first wave of teen pop groups like New Kids on the Block, New Edition and The Bangles.

Carlos Keyes notices that the 80’s are recognizable for some extremely identifiable characteristics. The heavy-beat songs, huge choruses, the synth heavy sound and the substantial use of reverb, that gives an impression of an “old” and “tinny” song are the most perceptible characteristics of that era. Carlos Keyes however remembers the biggest feature that identifies that time in music, the phrase “it makes you want to dance, right?”  The most played songs of that time are pop-dance music, with a beat that did not let you stay still.

A survey, held by the digital broadcaster Music Choice, discovered that the 1980s is the most played decade of the last 50 years. The music is played in theme parties, radios and by new artists that are influenced by its unique characteristics.

The 80’s resurgence in music

The New Yorker published an article that discussed the reasons of the 80’s resurgence. Carlos Keyes noticed the influence of Baby Boomers in the diffusion of that era’s music. The article say, and Carlos Keyes agree, that the Baby Boomers generation have reached or are reaching their 50’s, when they are in their most nostalgic moment. These Baby Boomers look back to the music that was a part of their lives for so long and are now exposing a new generation to their favorite music and performers. What happens then is that these new generation, the millennials, are enjoying the old pop songs, and turn out to be more predisposed to go after music and performances that remind them of the 80’s feeling.

The easy access to 80’s music on YouTube and television is another point that just allows a bigger exposure to this era’s music to younger and older listeners, making it more popular. Carlos Keyes points out that many artists already realize that the 80s dance feeling sells and are turning their careers towards a more pop-dance vibe.


The many artists being influenced by this era, for many reasons, only help to the resurgence of the 1980’s style. The music played by radio stations are filled with big chorus, the throbbing bass, the dance characteristics of that era, upbeat songs, full of electronic sounds to make people get up and dance when the song plays. And if you see the performances, says Carlos Keyes, most artists are focusing on dance moves, the rhythm and the creation of a spectacle just like in the 80’s.

Carlos Keyes argument that many artists like Daft Punk with the rhythm on the song ‘Get Lucky’, Bruno Mars with the dance beat ‘Treasure’ and ‘The Lazy Song’, Justin Bieber with his latest album, ‘Purpose’, full of backup dancers with a huge 80’s influence in choreograph and figurine, are great examples of songs and artists featuring the era’s characteristics.  The Weeknd went back to Michael Jackson with his music ‘Can’t Feel My Face’; teen pop group Little Mix admittedly are heavily influenced by Kylie and Madonna in their last album ‘Get Weird’; even the hip hop is represented in the resurgence with the album ‘Downtown’ from Macklemore says Carlos Keyes.

The 80’s resurgence in adverts

Nevertheless, it is not just the in the music industry that the 80’s are making a comeback. Most 1980’s songs were featured in some advertisement, television show or movie in the last years according to Carlos Keyes.

Carlos Keyes says that the television series Glee, which made its debut in 2009, and has been a key piece for the revival of 80’s retro music in the 2000’s. In countless episodes, the greatest ballads of that decade became the forefront and principal character of the show, with full episodes being focused on Michael Jackson, Madonna and Whitney Houston. The big hair, big voices, chorus, and even the representative clothes of the decade, made their way to one of the most watched and commented shows of the last years, declares Carlos Keyes. It touched and exposed a younger audience, already influenced by their parents, teachers and other television shows with 80’s music, to the popular and dancing songs from the 80’s.

Many other series uses the music of the decade of 1980 as an important part of the story, like Supernatural, that utilizes the rock music of the 70’s and 80’s to help in the telling of the story, to set the mood of the episode and as a characteristic of its main characters. Other shows like Mr. Robot and Stranger Things have a complete 80’s vibe, with not just the music of the decade in its opening credits and scenes, but the style of filming and the complexity of the facts.

In advertising for television the 1980 decade is also present with the last couple of years being the center of the most popular soundtracks for adverts, films and videos. Carlos Keyes states the use of the music of the band Queen, a leader in terms of number of music’s being used in adverts, together with the performer Bonnie Tyler with the song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’.

This television shows and advertisements were definitely the breeding ground for young and old audiences to regain the curiosity in the 80’s music and performances says Carlos Keyes.

The 80’s resurgence in tours

The 80’s made a huge comeback in the lasts years, but many famous artists from that era are still on the active and gaining followers like if it is still 30 years back. For Carlos Keyes, bands like The Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, Rush, The Eagles, Aerosmith and U2 were big bands on the 80’s and are still in the active. Their singles are still played in radios all over the world, and not just the new ones, the music that made them famous, the ones from the 1970’s and 80’s are recognized and played everywhere until now. The 80’s music never disappeared, this bands are still touring, releasing albums and making the old and younger generations have a point in common.

One of the greatest performer of that time, Michael Jackson, was preparing for his great comeback through an extremely elaborated tour that was supposed to start in 2009 and continue through 2010. There wasn’t an album, or his songs in a television advert, but a full tour with his most famous music and dance moves. His dead cancelled the sold out concerts before it even started.

A tour is one of the many ways to promote an artist, him being new or not.

Regeneration Tour

Was first organized in 2008 by the Red Entertainment Agency. Carlos Keyes is one of the brains behind the success of the tour that are still on the road annually with ever more names from the 1980’s. The Regeneration Tour is a big part of the revival of that decade’s music, consisting on numerous presentations of successful bands from the 1980′s. The fans of the era made the shows popular again, and many new fans show up every year to hear and see the bands that will perform.

The tour is entirely focuses on the 80′s bands, popular songs and performances. It usually occurs around North America, with a new lineup every August. The show passed through an off phase between 2010 and 2013, but is back with the most amazing performances of the 80’s and, as always, dozens of venues sold out.

Artists, like Men Without Hats, Information Society, Howard Jones, Andy Bell from the synth-pop duo Erasure, A Flock of Seagulls and Naked Eyes have already participated of the tour.

Soul Divas Tour

The Soul Divas Tour is a co-headlining concert tour. It featured American famous recording artists Dionne Warwick, Natalie Cole and Whitney Houston. The tour occurred in 2004 and was a one-month journey that started on July 7, in Hamburg, Germany. This marked the recent resurgence of 1980’s-era music all over the world and the first time the three singers boarded on a tour together.



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