Top Ten Countdown of Moog Featured Songs

Posted by Billyjam, January 25, 2019 02:30pm | Post a Comment

In conjunction with the simultaneously published New Sirin Synthesizer + more @ Week Long "Moog House of Electronicus Pop-Up" in LA + New Arturia MicroFreak @ NAMM Amoeblog, this accompanying piece takes a look back at the past half-century of Moog-featured song in a top ten countdown. A subjective list, culled from the endless number of popular recordings recordings in different genres over the past five decades,; it focuses primarily on popular songs that prominently featured various models of the Moog.

With such a vast library of Moog featured songs to draw from, obviously many excellent contenders are not included in this list of of ten. Hence honorable mentions include the Beatles “Here Comes The Sun” off the White Album (avail in new Super Deluxe Edition), Parliament’s "Flash Light" from Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome (1977) with Bernie Worrell playing synths, Portishead’s inspired interpretation of ABBA’s hit "SOS" featured in the 2016 film adaptation of J.G. Ballard's High-Rise, Nine Inch Nails"Head Like a Hole" off the Pretty Hate Machine LP,  the late great  Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” off his self-titled 1979 second album, and Herbie Hancock’s 1983 hit “Rockit” with both Hancock and synthesizer/drum machine programmer Michael Beinhorn on Minimoog. 

Then in the Moog rich prog rock field there’s such tracks deserving of honorable mention as Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s “Lucky Man” featuring Keith Emerson’s Moog synthesizer solo (reportedly recorded in one take) off their self-titled 1970 debut album,  “The Cinema Show” by Genesis off their 1973 album Selling England By The Pound (also on 180 gram vinyl LP) featuring Tony Banks on Moog, and Yes’ “Starship Trooper” from 1971’s The Yes Album (also on 2LP 180 vinyl) (Tony Kaye on synth) as well as “Wonderous Stories” featuring Rick Wakeman on Polymoog from the 1977 Yes album “Going For The One. (also avail on picture disc vinyl/LP)  Now onto the countdown with accompanying YouTube video clips.

Top Ten Countdown of Moog Featured Songs 

#10 Pink Floyd “Welcome To The Machine”

"Welcome to the Machine" is just one of the Pink Floyd songs that could be included here. Reportedly inspired by George Orwell’s book 1984, "Welcome to the Machine" is distinguished by its hypnotic vivacious sound of heavily processed synths, it’s from the group’s 1975 album Wish You Were Here as well as been released as a seven and a half minute 7” single that year.

#9 Manfred Mann’s Earth Band “Blinded By The Light”

Manfred Mann Earth Band’s synth drenched reinterpretation of Bruce Springsteen’s 1973 Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. (also on vinyl/LP) album track “Blinded By The Light” that’s found on their 1976 album The Roaring Silence. A number pop hit in ’76 the above video is from a live performance of the song in 1975 on the Midnight Special television show.

#8 New Order ”Blue Monday"

New Order’s ”Blue Monday" was their hugely popular 12-inch single released in March 1983 through Factory and found on their album from the same year Power, Corruption & Lies. Played on a Moog Source, the “Blue Monday” verse section features the hit single’s trademark deep throbbing synth bass line. According to the group's members, the song borrowed from several earlier songs including Donna Summer’s Giorgio Moroder & Pete Bellotte produced 1980 single “Our Love” (off her 1979 album Bad Girls).

#7 Tubeway Army "Are Friends Electric?"

Gary Numan and Tubeway Army's 1979 single from the Replicas LP, despite not having an actual hook, still became a UK #1 pop hit single as listeners were drawn by the song (and Numan's) robotic presentation and its mesmerizing futuristic sound crafted with Minimoog and Polymoog synthesizers. Numan, who would go record under his just own name, considered  this Tubeway Army record (the band's second album) to be the first chapter of his self-described "machine" musical phase.

#6 Lipps Inc. “Funkytown”

“Funkytown” is the 1980 international number one hit single from Minneapolis, Minnesota disco funk ensemble Lipps Inc. which was essentially a group of sessions musicians and singer curated by Steven Greenberg who wrote the song that is sung by Cynthia Johnson and was released as a 12” on Casablanca disco/funk record label as well as been on the 1979 album Mouth To Mouth.

#5 Wendy Carlos “The Thieving Magpie (Abridged)”

Just one of several Moog landmark tracks by Wendy Carlos (whose videos on YouTube are scarce) who is rightly credited as the pioneering musician to introduce many music listeners to the instrument care of 1968’s Switched On Bach and such consequent releases as the 1971 Carlos composed A Clockwork Orange movie soundtrack that included “The Thieving Magpie (Abridged)” above in audio-only format.

#4 Space “Magic Fly”

“Magic Fly” by Space was a worldwide disco/pop hit single for the pioneering synth-pop, “space disco” French band released on their 1977 debut album Magic Fly LP. Composed and written by the group’s leader Didier Marouani (aka Escama) he was just one of three synth playing members of the funky quartet from Marseilles .

#3 Hot Butter “Popcorn” (audio-only)

“Popcorn” was the 1972 hit single and one hit wonder for the instrumental group Hot Butter that was fronted by Stan Free. Taking the Moog to a whole new level as well as a new audience, the song was not an original but a cover of the 1969 (lessor hit) single by Gershon Kingsley from his album Music to Moog By. Three years later Free and company covered in a more amped up version that became a big international hit that year. The Kingsley song was also covered by others including M&H Band, Space Penguins, Coba, Die Space Hobos but most notably by Jean-Michel Jarre as a European released 7” single in 1972 under the name The Pop Corn Orchestra. Jarre’s version is often confused with Hot Butter’s.

#2 Kraftwerk “Autobahn”

“Autobahn” is the title track off pioneering German electronic/rock “krautrock” band Kraftwerk’s fourth studio album Autobahn (also on vinyl/LP) released in 1974. The following year the single, with the band’s signature robotic repetitive synth sound, would become a hit single in many countries around the globe and thereby be instrumental in sowing the seeds of such later genres as ambient, techno-pop/synth pop, and of course electro-funk with the prime example being Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force’s 1982 hit “Planet Rock” that borrowed directly from Kraftwerk, albeit from their later 1977 song/album Trans Europe Express.

#1 Donna Summer / Giorgio Moroder/Pete Bellotte “I Feel Love”

The number one song of this top ten, so considered for its mesmerizing fat Moog sound is the 1977 Donna Summer hit “I Feel Love" written produced and arranged by Giorgio Moroder & Pete Bellotte.
A 12” single on Casablanca as well as included on the album I Remember Yesterday from the same year, the song defined the disco era, when it was released during its peak, as well as been rightfully credited with pioneering electronic dance music (EDM). Both incredibly popular and incredibly influential the song would be considered by the Library of Congress so historically and culturally important that 34 years later they added it to the National Recording Registry.

Relevant Tags

Moog (8), Sirin (2), The Moog House Of Electronicus Pop-up (2), Namm 2019 (2), Arturia Microfreak (2), Donna Summer (18), Gary Numan (15)