The 80's was a decade of excess. More colorful excess than the 70's, which was a mostly brown, yellow and avocado time. The 80's brought us fluorescent color technology, bubble letters, and lots of triangles and checkerboard patterns. It was a visual assault brought on by marketing execs who were doing entirely too much cocaine.
Music was amazing. It was THE time to listen to pop music. Like today, people complained that modern music sucked. Like any other time, the best stuff stays with you and makes the past seem better than it was at the time. Electronic and Synth, which where mostly experimented with in the 60's and 70's, really hit big. People understood better what to do with sound. As with anything, there were those that would overdo it, but we got some of the most emotionally charged, yet deceptively simple music.
For example, this always makes me happy, but don't look for any deeper meaning:
I should add, as obvious as it is, that computer graphics were in their infancy. Traditional art, therefore, led to one of the most amazing music videos(and songs) EVER.
Things were not ideal. There was tension. There was turmoil in the middle east. We had a president who wanted to take our guns who was involved in scandal. This is not a 21st-century invention. USSR was united and Germany was separated. We all had more nukes than anyone could survive long enough to use. We had the Cold War.
As much fun as the 80's reeked of, there was still a message trying to come out.
The political climate was just as dire in the 80's as it is today, we just didn't binge watch TV news or have internet. Though, in 1980 America boycotted the Olympics in then-USSR who had just invaded Afghanistan. The 1980 Olympic games were a failure. In 1984, with the popularization of cable TV, The US hosted the Olympics. We wanted to show what capitalism, done right(?), could accomplish. The Soviet Union attempted a boycott of their own. The US-USSR events were tense, it's the only time I remember real people showing real pride in their country. Not only did the US win some gold in the deal, but we started winning the "culture war" without even trying.
People got their first glimpses of American TV. People living in other places saw the American ideal. It was the 80's, we lived in excess. The rest of the world thought we must be such a happy, ideal place to live in(some did), and so began the "Americanization" of certain aspects of world culture.
This would set off events leading to the end of the Cold War, and the re-unification of West and East Germany. It turned out to be an amazing time to be alive.