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‘Stranger Things’ shows why 1985 is the best pop culture year ever

In 1985, bored with its 99-year history of unimaginable success, Coca-Cola ditched its iconic recipe in favor of something called New Coke.

The rollout was so legendarily disastrous, it’s become the stuff of cautionary tales. You could barely give it away.

This May, though, so many people tried to buy part of a special commemorative batch of New Coke tied to the third season of “Stranger Things” (Thursday, Netflix), they repeatedly crashed the website.

Such is the power of nostalgia.

“Stranger Things 3” wears its 1985 setting on its sleeve, complete with shoutouts to “Back to the Future,” mall culture, “Never Surrender” singer Corey Hart — and, yes, New Coke.

Still, it barely scratches the surface of the best pop culture year ever.

Need proof? In 1985:

Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox in the Universal film "Back to the Future." (1985)
■ Not content with just “Back to the Future,” Michael J. Fox also stars in “Teen Wolf.” Other new movies include “The Breakfast Club,” “The Goonies,” “Fletch” and Tim Burton’s first feature, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.”

British and Irish singers perform on stage at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium, London, ...
(AP Photo)
■ The charity concert Live Aid draws attention to both the ongoing famine in Ethiopia and the undeniable power of Queen, whose iconic performance was re-created, nearly in its entirety, for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Elsewhere, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young organize Farm Aid, and a time capsule of musicians from Bruce Springsteen to Stevie Wonder gathers under the name USA for Africa to record “We Are the World.”

Whitney Houston holds her Grammy in Los Angeles after winning best female pop vocal performance ...
(AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)
■ Whitney Houston releases her self-titled debut album that includes “How Will I Know,” “Saving All My Love for You” and “Greatest Love of All.” At the opposite end of the spectrum, Eddie Murphy sings “Party All the Time.”

Cast members of the television series "Golden Girls," pose for a photo, clockwise from left, Be ...
(AP Photo/File)
■ “The Golden Girls” and “Moonlighting” arrive on TV, as does Woodrow Huckleberry Tiberius “Woody” Boyd on “Cheers.”

A Blockbuster video rental store is shown in Dallas, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2004. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
A Blockbuster video rental store is shown in Dallas, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2004. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
■ The first Blockbuster video store opens in Dallas. At its peak, the company had more than 9,000 locations. Today, there’s just one stubborn holdout, located in Bend, Oregon.

Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed in "Rocky IV." (MGM)
■ Apollo Creed dances into the MGM Grand’s Ziegfeld Theater — with an assist from James Brown, his horn section and a bevy of showgirls — as part of the greatest boxing entrance ever orchestrated in “Rocky IV.”

Actor Robert Downey Jr. poses during an Asia Press Conference to promote "Avengers Endgame" in ...
(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
■ The world first glimpses the wonders of Robert Downey Jr. when he appears in “Weird Science” and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and joins the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”

Performer Paul Simon listens to David Letterman on the set of NBC's "Late Night with David Lett ...
(AP Photo/David Bookstaver)
■ David Letterman reads his first Top 10 List, “Top 10 Things That Almost Rhyme with Peas.”

Tetris is shown as played on the Nintendo Entertainment System in New York, June 1990. (AP Ph ...
(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
■ The Nintendo Entertainment System arrives in America.

Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden in New York, May 31, 1985. (AP Photo)
(AP Photo)
■ WrestleMania debuts, with guest timekeeper Liberace, six months before the launch of the bonkers Saturday morning cartoon “Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling.”

■ Japanese animation giant Studio Ghibli, makers of such fare as “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle,” is founded.

Actress Keira Knightley poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'The A ...
(Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)
■ Keira Knightley, Bruno Mars, Anna Kendrick, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Stastny are born.

DJ Jazzy Jeff, left, and The Fresh Prince are seen backstage at the American Music Awards cerem ...
(AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)
■ DJ Jazzy Jeff meets the Fresh Prince, Salt meets Pepa, and Calvin meets Hobbes.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence @reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

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