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Why the Weeknd and Bruno Mars are obsessed with the '80s

Bruno Mars and the Weeknd keep turning up in the same spot.

There they were a week and a half ago at the American Music Awards, each performing the opening title track from his new album. Before that, the two appeared at the MTV Europe Music Awards, where they did the same songs they did at the AMAs: Mars’ “24K Magic” and the Weeknd’s “Starboy.”

Theme-wise, the tunes don’t share much. Mars has referred to “24K Magic” as “the invitation to the party” that is his third studio record, while “Starboy” begins with the Weeknd admitting, “I’m trying to put you in the worst mood.”

Sonically, though, they point clearly in one direction, and that’s toward the 1980s, an era that serves as one more meeting place for these young artists fluent in the history of soul and pop. On their albums, both released this month, Mars and the Weeknd make expert use of the decade’s signature sounds and…

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