[This edition of my Hit Parade—“The Bridge” bonus series is available to Slate Plus subscribers only. A link to the episode show page is below. To sign up for Plus—and tell Slate that Hit Parade sent you!—visit slate.com/hitparadeplus.]
In this mini-episode of Hit Parade, host Chris Molanphy welcomes Maura Johnston, the eclectic critic and contributor to the Boston Globe and Time magazine. In her study on Latin freestyle dance-pop in the 1980s, Maura pointed out that the music’s themes were surprisingly sad, with an ache that was not unlike goth and synthpop. And freestyle’s penchant for melodramatic ballads meant it was often played alongside hair-metal on the radio, another genre packed with power ballads.