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80s New Wave Hidden Synthetic Gems

Mar 23, 2013 3:33 pm
HeadAssClown By HeadAssClown
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I once heard of fan of Roxette say that they did not like the Pearls of Passion album because it was too synthetic. In their view, the later Roxette albums featuring more acoustics were better.

Per my musical tastes, there is no such thing as "too synthetic". It is, in fact, the synthesized, autotune songs for most 80s new wave bands that are the most timeless and that define the genre. The thrill in these songs is turning up the volume and hearing the digitized, electronic vibes, absent of any guitars or other stringed-instruments.

You see this approach today reflected in a few of the only western groups that I listen to, La Roux, Lady Gaga, and Little Boots. You also have the highly popular genre of groups such as Zedd, Tiesto, David Guetta, etc, as are on display at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami each spring. Still, my favorite modern day electro music is definitely J-Tek, or Japanese electro.

Yet we always must remember that electronic music had its beginnings in earnest in the late 70s and 80s. Here are some of my most highly regarded 80s new wave songs that you may have never heard before, even if you listen to the XM channels and such...

Berlin - World of Smiles (1983)
This song just sounds so underground, with Terri Nunn singing the vocals in a flamboyant way, almost like who she sung on Berlin's first album, Information (1980). When Berlin reunited on VH1, they choose to sing their hit The Metro because they said it was more reflective of their music than the more famous Take My Breath Away, as heard in the film Top Gun. I think World of Smiles is their best song, with Dancing in Berlin 2nd and Heartstrings (yes acoustic I know) 3rd. None of those three are even on their greatest hits album. Another gem from their early era is Mind Control. Berlin was one of the few American bands that lived up to the Euro bands of the 80s new wave era.

Kajagoogoo - This Car Is Fast (1983)
Limahl and "the guys" released a real masterpiece with the White Feathers album. It's too bad that their later music strayed from this heavily synthesized sound, and of course that they broke up soon after. This Car Is Fast has maybe more electro sounds that any of the other songs except maybe the more famous hit Ooh To Be Ah. Really love the synth at the end of this song.

Silicon Dream - Albert Einstein - Everything is relative (1988)
Now Silicon Dream is a fairly obscure group. I have talked about them in Italo Disco forums, and there are even many there who haven't heard of them. The guy who made them was very creative with his electronic compositions, lyrics, music videos, etc. This song about the "Professor of Love" has some self-parody, as do most, and the sound matches the theme well.

Howard Jones - Natural (1984)
Natural features an very pure, epiphany-like synthesized sound with his typical philosophical lyrics. I was lucky enough to see Howard Jones give a concert in Jupiter, FL in 2008. He had previously been touring with acoustic performances of his songs, but he said this was his first electro concert in the US in 5 years. His voice still sounds great, and of course he is still a master of the Roland just like he was back in the UK in the early 80s. He rarely ever has a mime doing interpretive dance during his songs these days or a robot breaking through walls, but you just have to overlook it.

Sandra - On The Tray (1985)
Sandra was huge in europe and Japan in the 80s, but never really got any play in the US until she did the vocals for Enigma's 90s songs (you know, where she sounds like she's having an orgasm). On her first solo album, The Long Play (1985), I adore the song On the Tray because of its synthetic composition by Michael Cretu.

Pet Shop Boys - Two divided by Zero (1986)
This song is an epic opening to the Please album. At the 2 minute mark where the music changes, I always want to say in true 80s style, "Pet Shop Boys are in effect!". I realize that the 2nd track, the former megahit West End Girls, is the better song, but I've heard it so much that I know prefer many of their lesser played tracks.

Thompson Twins - All Fall Out (1983)
This is maybe the darkest song from the Thompson Twins (none of which were twins by the way, or even related). It has some crazy synth as in most of their songs from the Tom/Joe/Alannah era, and seems to be about a mental breakdown.


HeadAssClown is the mastermind behind the Brood Of Clowns circus. He created BOC as an alternative for people who aren't douche bags and dislike the typical stupid trash culture. In his free time, he enjoys reading, long walks on the beach, and asian pornography. He has had sex with over 300 women and at least 50 snakes.

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