Sunday, August 10, 2008

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix #29

This week is about a genre of music that can be viewed as both innovative and cheesy, both perennial and disposable, both recognizable and ubiquitous. It's like heavy metal for arty people. And it gets me every time. Synthpop.

With its earliest origins in experimental electronic music by Germans, namely Karlheinz Stockhausen and Kraftwerk, and then embraced by seemingly hundreds of British artists in the '80's, synthpop is largely associated with the New Romantics and a particularly flashy pose that often overshadowed content. And of course the synthesizer (and its attendant drum machines) was the fantastic new toy with which these bands played, creating bubbly, fizzy pop; pumping, high-energy dance music; moody, angsty love songs; and atmospheric, more serious pieces obviously influenced by Bowie and Eno. Along with this scene went thousands of remixes and extended dance mixes, some of which appear in this compilation.

Synthpop and the New Romantics took the glam pose and attitude from the 70's and transposed it into the futuristic, and often clinical, element of electronic music. With its excesses, seemingly trying every effect in the synthesizer manual and trying every film trick possible in their music videos, synthpop bands often characterized the greedy superficial '80's as a whole; however, this apparently excessive fancy dress party still managed to create decent, memorable songs, and yes, they were unabashedly popular, hence the "pop" in synthpop. Oddly enough, as throwaway as many of the lyrics are and as lightweight as many of the songs are, when my sister was a teenager in the '80's, many kids associated synthpop with the intellectual kids - perhaps there was always a sense of play and irony about the synthpop detachment or the fact they made an art out of performance. The British synthpop bands seem to have such an effect on the genre that nearly all synthpop acts, whether they're British or not, sing in that rather overwrought, posh accent, which I know very well that I'm a sucker for.

I've personally always been drawn to synthpop at least as far back as that Choose 80's cassette I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Although I have a feeling I heard the likes of Tears for Fears and Duran Duran when I was much younger and instinctively enjoyed it as a child. My predilection for men in eyeliner and floppy blouses, moving like robots over multiple keyboards started rather early and never left me. Those shimmery synthy sounds still make me unaccountably joyful - maybe I was an androgynous robot in a former life. Just as synthpop continues to influence newer bands and morphs into electropop, electroclash, EBM, et cetera, this mix reflects both the older and newer versions of the genre, placing Japan and Pet Shop Boys alongside Ladytron and Don Juan Dracula. Although, admittedly, most of it is still 80's because I'm such a retro nerd. I also attempted to throw in some lesser known bands like Furniture and Screaming for Emily. And before someone mentions it, I'll acknowledge that the opening track for this mix is by Ricky Gervais's short-lived band, Seona Dancing - and as wrong as it may be, I like the song quite a bit. The Office...pfft. Seona Dancing should have gone on to conquer more than just the Philippines. This mix is called Spin Me Right Round With Tears in My Eyes.

More To Lose (12" Extended Mix) - Seona Dancing

If You Leave (12" Spiral Mix) - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

The Sun Always Shines on TV - a-ha

We Run - Strange Advance

Just Can't Get Enough - Depeche Mode

Take Me Home - Don Juan Dracula

It's a Sin (Disco Mix) - Pet Shop Boys

A Little Respect (Extended Mix) - Erasure

Tangiers - The Screaming Trees

Big Blue World - Paul Haig

No Stars - Figures on a Beach

Pale Shelter - Tears for Fears

Deep Blue - Ladytron

The Color of Love - Beborn Beton

Face to Face - Heart to Heart - Twins

Brilliant Mind - Furniture

Fade to Grey - Visage

Newsreel - Fad Gadget

Last Goodbye - Screaming for Emily

The Chauffeur - Duran Duran

Ghosts - Japan

NOTE: At the request of Brad (and perhaps others), here is the zip file of the whole mix. If others want this feature reinstated for my weekly mixes, please let me know.


Sonja said...

Oh my Gosh - thanks so much for posting this. I used to be soooo in love with Strange Advance and haven't thought of them in years as I can't play any of my vinyl at the moment. Took me back. I realized that they are just as good now as they were back then. Now if only I could hear the rest of the album.

Brad said...


anglopunk said...

@ Brad

I'll get working on uploading a zip file of this whole mix (it should be up today some time) - I used to include a zip file of my mixes for the first ten or so, but at the time, didn't feel the demand was all that high. I might have to reconsider.

JC said...

I still think Ricky Gervais would rather have been a pop star than a comedian.

And here was me thinking I was the only fan of 'More To Lose'.....

Guxt said...

Thanks for your excellent post, specially for the zip, it was a very good idea!!

Electro Boy said...

Thanks for the excellent music. Is it possible to re-up the zip file as the link seems to be dead. Thanks. : )

anglopunk said...

I fixed the link - hopefully it works now. Thanks for pointing that out Electro Boy.

Electro Boy said...

Glad to help Anglopunk. Thanks again for the music - keep up the good work!

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