Electronic pop music

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Development phase: Late 1970s
Place of origin: GermanyGermany Germany , United Kingdom , United States
United KingdomUnited Kingdom 
United StatesUnited States 
Stylistic precursors
Pop , synthpop , new wave , disco
David Bowie , Gary Numan , Kraftwerk , The Human League , Depeche Mode
Instruments typical of the genre
Synthesizer , drum computer , sequencer , sampler , vocoder
Stylistic successor
Eurodance , techno , electroclash

As electronic pop music (often electropop ) is pop music called, in which the use of electronic instruments such as synthesizers , samplers and drum machines in the foreground. The terms synth pop and electro pop are sometimes used as umbrella terms for the electronic styles of pop music, but they also designate independent genres within electronic pop music.

Since electronic technology has been used in the entire pop music spectrum since the 1980s at the latest, only music is considered electronic pop music in which the possibilities of electronics in the field of sound synthesis are exhausted and can be described as an essential element of music.


The 1970s

Since the late 1960s, more and more rock music bands have been using electronic musical instruments, initially for sound experiments that still had little to do with popular music that was compatible with the masses. The British prog rock (z. B. Pink Floyd ) and the German counterpart to the Krautrock (z. B. Tangerine Dream ), worried about 1970 for a first major wave of electronic musical instruments in rock music.

In the early stages of 1969, the song was Popcorn by Gershon Kingsley , of an early version of the Moog synthesizer began - 1972 had the band Hot Butter with a remake of popcorn a great success. The influence of the German group Kraftwerk , which comes from the Krautrock tradition, was more lasting and from 1974 (Autobahn) onwards they created their own symbiosis of simple melodies, electronic sounds and a catchy, technology-oriented image. The style of this band and other groups of the time was sometimes referred to as cosmic rock or space rock .

At the same time, electronic experimentation in the New Age musical movement also increased.

Jean-Michel Jarre's album Oxygène (1976) also dates from this period . It was one of the first fully electronically recorded albums that met the taste of the masses and made synthesizer music accessible to a wider audience. Due to the purely instrumental arrangements and the deliberate departure from classic (pop) song structures, Jarre's early works, as well as the German synthesizer pioneers such as Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze, are usually not counted as synth pop.

The 1980s

The late 1970s and early 1980s marked a turning point in electronic pop music. While synthesizers were only reserved for a few top earners among musicians in the 1970s due to their price, (relatively) cheaper and more compact instruments came onto the market at that time (especially the manufacturers ARP Instruments , Korg , Moog , Oberheim , Roland and Yamaha ) became affordable for a wider circle of musicians.

The result was a real boom in synthesizer bands who initially released their music on the independent labels that were also emerging in large numbers. Many of these bands clearly referred to Kraftwerk, but a trend towards more compact, catchy and danceable songs became apparent. More and more bands are using synthesizers as independent sound sources, creating numerous new styles. These ranged from electro- pop, which is close to traditional pop music, to "alternative" styles such as minimal electro and electro wave .

Thanks to their new sound, the original arrangements and, last but not least, their good danceability, many synth pop bands also became commercially successful, which in the further course of the 1980s (from around 1983/84) led to the formation of dance floor-oriented, commercialized styles such as Italo Disco ( Gazebo , Righeira , Savage ) and Euro Disco ( Fancy , Bad Boys Blue , CC Catch ).

In the meantime, the Neue Deutsche Welle had emerged in Germany, a German-language version of the New Wave , which was largely influenced by punk and the avant-garde. The use of electronic instruments was widespread, such as B. at DAF , Der Plan or Die Krupps .

Initially still hostile to large parts of the music press, electronic music quickly became style-defining. A large number of bands that normally belonged to traditional pop music now used analog synthesizer sounds that matched the sense of time of the 1980s. From the USA this would be e.g. B. Madonna with early and current hits ("Holiday", "Die Another Day") to be mentioned, even musicians like Paul McCartney temporarily built analog synthesizer sounds into their songs.

While synthesizers were initially still monophonic and analog, more and more polyphonically playable devices and samplers came onto the market in the mid-1980s . While some electronic bands changed their sound and in some cases even took a pioneering role (e.g. Depeche Mode in the use of samplers), others disappeared from the scene.

From 1985, however, electronic music had finally established itself on a broad scale, and bands such as Modern Talking , the Pet Shop Boys , Bananarama or The Art of Noise appeared on the scene, but no longer synth-pop, but rather Euro Disco and can be assigned to other genres of electronic music.

From the 1990s until today

From around 1988/1989 the influence of techno and house came to the fore. So-called dance music emerged, which was essentially traditional pop music with house beats, but also incorporated some newer elements such as rapping . The trance music style was also “popped” around 1993 and provided with sung melodies, which led to the so-called Eurobeat .

From 1996, people went back to the roots of electronic pop music, especially British synth pop . More and more bands tried to carry on the original pop style of the 80s. The climax of this movement was reached with the electroclash wave around 2001, in which elements from punk rock and electro were also processed.

Electronic pop music styles

Electronic pop music today consists of a broad spectrum of musical styles that have little in common, apart from the melodious, “pop”.

Styles close to traditional pop music

In the early days of electronic pop music, synthesizers, samplers and drum computers were used as normal musical instruments, but the structure of the songs remained similar to traditional pop music. The following styles were created here:

  • Synthie pop , a style in which the synthesizer played a major role as a sound generator (e.g. Depeche Mode )
  • Electropop, in which the synthesizer assumed the role of one instrument among many compared to synthpop
  • Italo Disco , slower than the Euro Disco, most of the performers come from Italy (e.g. Gazebo )
  • Hi-NRG , a faster advancement from Euro Disco that marked the transition to dance music

Industrial and wave culture styles

As early as the mid-1970s, the synthesizer was also being used in underground styles, particularly in the industrial environment. Here they had the function of creating and reinforcing moods, for example through surface sounds or noise . In the course of the New Wave in the 1980s, the main focus was on danceability:

Styles with house and techno influence ("dance music")

These styles emerged from the late 80s, but especially in the 90s, and were primarily designed for danceability:

Retro styles around the turn of the millennium

From 1996/97 interest in the sound of the early days of electronic pop music awoke again in the scene, especially from the period around 1980. This was combined with a variety of new elements, for which new word creations were soon found:

See also

Web links

Commons : Electropop  - collection of images, videos and audio files

References and comments

  1. earlier, depending on the definition, provided that aids such as microphones and amplifiers are included