Eighties (song)

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Eighties 12" 1984.jpg
Single by Killing Joke
from the album Night Time
B-side"The Coming Mix"
ReleasedApril 1984
Killing Joke singles chronology
"Me or You?"
"A New Day"
Music video
"Eighties" on YouTube
7" Release
Eighties Side A Inner Sleeve
Eighties Side A Inner Sleeve
Alternative cover
Eighties Side B Inner Sleeve
Eighties Side B Inner Sleeve

"Eighties" is the first single from English post-punk band Killing Joke's fifth studio album, Night Time. It was originally released in April 1984[1] by E.G. Records as a 12" and 7" single, produced by Chris Kimsey. The 12" single A-side featured the track "Eighties (Serious Dance Mix)" with "Eighties" and "Eighties (The Coming Mix)" as B-sides. The 7" single exempted the "Serious Dance Mix" and instead, featured "Eighties" as the A-side. Also, the 7" single was sold with a bonus 7" single of "Let's All Go (To the Fire Dances)". The single reached No. 60 in the UK Singles Chart.

A short snippet of "Eighties" was the opening theme to the 2002 sitcom That '80s Show. It was used for a party scene in the 1985 movie Weird Science. It is also used as the theme song for the Investigation Discovery series The 1980s: The Deadliest Decade.

Music video[edit]

The official 1984 music video to "Eighties" was directed by Anthony Van Den Ende,[2] and shows the band performing the song while frontman Jaz Coleman stands in front of a microphone stand which has the U.S. flag draped over it. Behind him the flag of the Soviet Union can be seen. Their performance is intercut with stock footage of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Leonid Brezhnev (with the footage deliberately skipping), Anwar Sadat, Pope John Paul II, Ruhollah Khomeini, Konstantin Chernenko and John DeLorean. Other footage shows a rocket being launched, a female bodybuilding contest, a group of punks at a concert in Hammersmith, book burnings, Beatles albums being burned after the "bigger than Jesus" comment and a dog wedding.[2]

Conflict with Nirvana[edit]

The song "Come as You Are", by American grunge band Nirvana, featured a riff similar to "Eighties". Nirvana and their management company, Gold Mountain, were unsure about releasing the song as a single from their 1991 studio album, Nevermind. Danny Goldberg, head of Gold Mountain, later revealed that "[w]e couldn't decide between 'Come as You Are' and 'In Bloom.' Kurt [Cobain] was nervous about 'Come as You Are' because it was too similar to a Killing Joke song but we all thought it was still the better song to go with. And, he was right, Killing Joke later did complain about it".[3] Nirvana biographer Everett True wrote that "Come as You Are" was eventually chosen for release as a single because "Goldberg favoured the more obviously commercial song".

After Nirvana released the single in 1992, members of Killing Joke claimed the main guitar riff of "Come as You Are" plagiarized the riff of "Eighties", but according to Rolling Stone magazine, they did not file a copyright infringement lawsuit because of "personal and financial reasons".[3] However, conflicting reports, such as Kerrang!, have stated differently.

Cobain's death in 1994 effectively dissolved Nirvana and the conflict with Killing Joke.[4] If there was a lawsuit filed as Kerrang! claimed, it was either thrown out of court,[5] or it was dropped to take the burden off the remaining members of Nirvana and their management. However, the court that supposedly took the case was not named and many doubted that Killing Joke ever filed a lawsuit against Nirvana.[6]

An interview with Killing Joke guitarist Geordie Walker that same year[7] confirmed the possibility of a said lawsuit, thus proving that the claim by Kerrang! was not a hoax. Walker stated:

Nine years later, in 2003, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl took a leave of absence from his current band, the Foo Fighters, to record drums for Killing Joke's second self-titled album. The move surprised some Nirvana fans, given Nirvana's past conflict with Killing Joke. However, Foo Fighters had previously recorded a cover of another Killing Joke song, "Requiem", as a B-side to their 1997 single "Everlong."

AllMusic writer Bill Janovitz reviewed "Eighties", comparing and contrasting "Come as You Are" and "Eighties":[8]

However, The Big Takeover magazine's Jack Rabid reported that Captain Sensible's "Life Goes On", recorded by The Damned for their 1982 album, Strawberries, "features the exact same, extremely unique riff as both 'Eighties' and 'Come as You Are'".[9] Coleman and Ferguson separately claimed to have no knowledge of this.[10][9]

Track listings[edit]

7" vinyl single[edit]

Side A
  1. "Eighties" – 03:35
Side B
  1. "Eighties (The Coming Mix)" – 03:33

12" vinyl single[edit]

Side A
  1. "Eighties (Serious Dance Mix)" – 06:02
Side B
  1. "Eighties" – 03:35
  2. "Eighties (The Coming Mix)" – 03:33


Chart (1984) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[11] 60


  1. ^ "Eighties". Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  2. ^ a b Pitalo, Stephen (20 March 2012). "Director Recalls Shooting "Eighties" Video For Killing Joke: "They Were a Frightening Band"". The Golden Age of Music Video. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b Borzillo-Vrenna, Carrie (10 April 2003). Nirvana Pay Back Killing Joke. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 12 December 2008.
  4. ^ History Link biog of Cobain retrieved 12 December 2008
  5. ^ "Conspiracy of Two". Kerrang!. 12 April 2003
  6. ^ "Interview with Killing Joke's Geordie". BBC. Retrieved on 12 December 2008.
  7. ^ Slater, Tim. "Killing Joke interview". Guitarist. December 1994.
  8. ^ Janovitz, Bill. "Song Review-Eighties". AllMusic. Retrieved on 12 December 2008.
  9. ^ a b Rabid, Jack. "What's This For? More Revelations from Jaz Coleman". The Big Takeover. Issue 54, Summer 2004. Archived here.
  10. ^ Smith, Alex (4 September 2004). Interview with Big Paul Ferguson. Flaming Pablum. Retrieved on 12 December 2008.
  11. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.