Well my little dreamlets, we’re ten days into Spring, and it’s already clear to me what music is going to carry me through into Summer – it’s all about synthetics. Synthpop, that is, of the late 70’s and early 80’s variety.
This amuses me, because for much of my life I detested a lot of the music I’m going to celebrate here. A lot of the hatred stemmed from being so unhappy in the 1980’s; by association, the music “sounded” like unhappiness. Think of it this way: When was the last time you were taking a shower and felt like listening to the soundtrack to Psycho? Exactly.
Some say that synthpop began when Giorgio Moroder teamed up with Donna Summer and created the hit single "I Feel Love." Calling this the “start” of synthpop is convenient, but an over-simplification, because so much came before that informed it. What can be said is that the song was influential, both in terms of inspiring artists who would go on to develop the synthpop genre, and give mainstream audiences a taste for it.
What follows are some synthpop songs that bring me joy. Many can be claimed by other sub-genres of music, but they're all related. Some are guilty pleasures – the sonic equivalent to a Snickers bar, in that they are bad for me, but make me feel great for the duration I’m imbibing – and others I stand by as solid accomplishments. I’m also putting a spell on them: listening to these songs will make you feel a little ticklish in the deepest part of your brain, which will result in your not hating your fellow man as much (even though they totally deserve your hate). Enjoy!
Vince Clarke, worshiping in his own way.
Oh! Something I meant to tell you: The other day I was talking on the phone to Vince Clarke about Yazoo (or Yaz, for those few of you who live in the quaint li’l province of The United States of America). He’s on tour right now with the indomitable Alison Moyet. For those of us who discovered the two, flawless Yaz albums in youth and remained loyal to the duo long after they weren’t to each other, this reunion tour is nothing short of a miracle.
Corey and I saw them perform recently and I’m telling you now, kids – find out when they’re playing near you, buy your tickets fast and GO! I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a concert more.
Because I signed away all legal rights (I wasn’t using them anyhow) I can’t post my chat with Mr. Clarke on the Amoeblog, but you can read it by clicking on the sentence below:
This sentence serves no purpose other than providing a convenient link upon which you may click with your (rather dirty and in need of cleaning) mouse.
In other news, a bunch of we Amoebites went to the Hollywood Bowl Sunday night to see Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and Feist, but I’m not going to report on it until Logan sends me the [insert cuss word here] pictures.
So, what does this blog entry have to offer you besides promises of reports elsewhere available?
I still remember the first time that I ever heard Yaz. My cousin was driving me and my brother back home from my grandparents' house. It was 1982 and I was 8 years old. She was playing the Upstairs at Eric's cassette on her tape player. I immediately fell in love with the album even though I had never heard of them before. I had to ask her what it was. Luckily I was only 8 years old and didn't yet get embarrassed about not knowing the name of a band. I think I made my mom buy it for me as soon as I could find it. I really wasn't old enough to have seen them in concert anyway, but they never came to the U.S. for a tour anyway. Yaz put out a second album, You and Me Both, in 1983. They broke up before they even had a chance to tour the UK with that album, so the world has really been waiting 25 years for this reunion! A couple years later I became a huge fan of both Depeche Mode and Erasure. I soon realized that Vince Clark was in all these bands and he quickly became one of my musical heroes. Not only did he help to create Depeche Mode and their debut album Speak and Spell, but he also went on to help create all of the Erasure albums with Andy Bell. I will go so far as to say that the world of new wave and electronic dance music might be a bit different if it were not for Vince Clark. He influenced tons of Industrial and electronica artists, even if they may not want to admit it.