Alex Craig plays guitar for Ducktails and Big Troubles, and also just dropped an EP as Limited, his solo electronic project. He made us a playlist of rock songs from the '80s, shedding light on some deep cuts from a frequently-maligned decade. Below, Craig explains what this niche style means to him.
My introduction to hi-tech AOR was a YouTube playlist made by a user named "CutlikeAZOR," called "Beyond Pop: The Hi-Tech AOR Legacy." I'd never seen the prefix of "hi-tech" stuck in front of the AOR tag. AOR is an acronym for "album oriented rock"-- basically synonymous with soft-rock. I did a google search for "Hi Tech AOR" but not much else really came up, which lead me to realize that it's predominantly a YouTube-specific term for a community of video uploaders and AOR fans.
The "hi-tech" part of it made sense though-- the playlist was all big 80's guitar anthems that heavily used technology which was considered "state-of-the-art" for mid-80s production. Those elements include lots of metallic sounding MIDI bass programming, twinkly Yamaha DX-7 synths, huge gated reverbs on drums and other over the top, flashy touches. The AOR community of YouTubers seem to use the "hi-tech" label to distinguish this stuff from other AOR variants they also upload, like "AOR Melodic" and "AOR Lite," which employ less of the flashy electronic stuff and focus more on softer ballad-type material.