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Music 101: Electro Pop

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Electro pop, popularly known as synthpop is the music genre which features the synthesizer as a dominant musical instrument. This genre of music took form in the sixties and the early seventies. British bands like ‘Ultravox’ and ‘The Human League’ along with Japanese band ‘Yellow Magic Orchestra’ developed it as an independent genre and so, they are said to be the pioneers and innovators of electro pop.

The music comprises of synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers with other musical instruments but only these three instruments form the core of electro pop. The emergence of synthpop has been described as ‘perhaps the single most significant event in melodic music since Mersey-beat’. By the 1980s, synthesizers had become much cheaper and easier to use, and after the development of digital audio, the creation of purely electronic sounds and their manipulation became much simpler. Synthesizers dominated pop music of the early 1980s, particularly because it was adopted by bands of the New Romantic movement.

In US, A Flock of Seagulls entered the top ten Billboard chart with ‘I Ran (So Far Away) and its videos became popular too with the rise of MTV. Electro pop reached out to the world with international hits for acts like Men Without Hats and Trans X from Canada, Telex from Belgium, Propaganda from Germany and Yello from Switzerland. Electro pop ruled till the mid 80’s and then an American backlash against European electro pop began with the rise of heartland rock and roots rock. In the UK, the arrival of indie rock bands, particularly The Smiths, marked the end of synth-driven new wave and the guitar-based music started dominating rock in the 1990s. By 1991, in the United States, synthpop was losing its commercial viability as alternative radio stations were responding to the popularity of grunge rock.The genre has received criticism for alleged lack of emotion and musicianship as everything could be synced to perfection but in the 21st century, artists like Lady Gaga, Owl City, Kesha, The Killers, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj revived the genre and it’s on a roll once again.

5 Electro Pop songs you should listen to –

See You by Depeche Mode – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rqmbue-aFg

Mad World by Tears For Fears – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFsHSHE-iJQ

Say Hello Wave Goodbye – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHTbWtacquk

Fireflies by Owl City – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psuRGfAaju4

Just Dance by Lady Gaga – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Abk1jAONjw

Words: Jadeed Hussain

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