Synth pop

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Synth pop

Development phase: 1977-80
Place of origin: United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Instruments typical of the genre
Synthesizer , drum computer , sequencer
New Wave , Electronic , Disco , Pop , Post-Punk , Glamrock , Krautrock

Synthie pop (also synth pop , synth pop , synth pop or, rarely, technopop ) describes a style that emerged in the 1970s within electronic dance music , the main characteristic of which is the use of electronic instruments ( synthesizers ) as a style element. In contrast to rock music, acoustic instruments such as guitars, bass guitars and drums are only used marginally, if at all. However, traditional instruments should not simply be replaced by electronic ones (which was not sensible because of the very high prices and size of the devices at the time). Instead, an attempt was made to find new artistic ways of creating sound and creating styles.

In addition to synth pop, the terms “ electropop ” and “technopop” are used, the exact definition and limitation of which are discussed differently. Depending on the musical focus, what is meant is pop music produced with synthetic sound generation and / or samplers. However, not all electronically generated pop music is automatically called synth pop.


The beginnings (1970–1978)

Synthie pop is - despite the first work by Terry Riley and Annette Peacock - a style that was essentially developed in Europe. The bands of the German Krautrock wave at the end of the 1960s were already experimenting with synthesizers and electronic effects; however, the results were mostly too experimental to be called pop music. In England, too, the number of bands that used synthesizers increased in the early 1970s (for example Emerson, Lake and Palmer or Pink Floyd ). It should be noted, however, that electronic instruments were extraordinarily expensive at the time and were therefore not an option for every band.

As the first real electro-pop hit, the single will Popcorn by Hot Butter viewed (1972). The German band Kraftwerk , which had started experimentally, but after 1974 mainly produced catchy music, had a major influence on the development of the style . Their hits like Autobahn , Das Model , Radioaktivitaet and Trans Europa Express made the band known internationally as well as the new style of music.

The "80s Pop" (1978–1989)

While synthesizers were only reserved for a few top earners among musicians in the 1970s due to their price, in the late 1970s increasingly (relatively) cheaper and more compact instruments came onto the market (especially the manufacturers ARP Instruments , KORG , Moog , Oberheim , Roland and Yamaha ), which 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. As a representative of this first large wave of synth artists (about 1978-82) would be Depeche Mode , Pet Shop Boys , OMD , The Buggles , New Order , Eurythmics , Soft Cell , Gary Numan , Blancmange , Yazoo , Ultravox and Visage to name . Within the New Wave movement that was flourishing in England , subcultures such as the New Romantics or Futurists emerged , to which many synthpop bands (especially the music press) were temporarily assigned. The term synthpop or synthpop also comes from this time.

In the early to mid-1980s, synth-pop reached its commercial peak with hits such as Fade To Gray by Visage , Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics , Tainted Love by Soft Cell , Blue Monday by New Order , Big in Japan by Alphaville , It's a sin by Pet Shop Boys , Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat or People Are People by Depeche Mode . By means of so-called sampling , impressive pieces of music could now be produced from short sound recordings. During this time, offshoots of synth pop, such as Italo Disco and Euro Disco, developed specifically for discotheques .

Decline and brief revival (1990–1999)

In the triumphant advance of the techno movement, synth-pop was pushed back into the underground. There bands such as De / Vision , Second Decay , Elegant Machinery and Pitch Yarn of Matter carried on the sound typical of the 1980s. With the advent of more and more powerful PCs from the mid-1990s onwards, keyboard synthesizers and sampling machines increasingly disappeared, and so did classic synth pop.

At the same time there was a brief synthpop revival, which was not a major success. Swedish and German labels like October , with bands like Children Within, Kiethevez, Vision System, Forbidden Colors and Statemachine, and Visage Records , with groups like Daily Planet and Point of View , set the tone .

Recurrence in the 2010s

In the 2010s there was a reappearance of modern synth pop, both in the international charts and in the indie pop scene, but also mixed with the electro-house / dance genre (e.g. with Calvin Harris , Kesha or LMFAO ). Well-known representatives and interpreters of this retro trend are Hurts , Børns , Donkeyboy , Capital Cities , Empire of the Sun and La Roux . Well-known indie representatives of synth pop outside the mainstream are u. a. Austra , Chvrches , M83 , Passion Pit , Phoenix , Röyksopp , Breakbot , Awolnation and Light Asylum .


In the second half of the 1990s, techno trance developed into a form of music that became known as future pop around the turn of the millennium and hit the charts. Around 2001 the synthpop was expanded to include punk elements, which led to the emergence of the electroclash genre . Synth -pop influences can also be found in modern synth rock .

The band Ministry , which pioneered the development of industrial metal , was founded in 1981 as a synth pop band.

Pioneering bands and artists

Web links

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