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Techno-pop, also termed "synth-pop" or "electro-pop," refers to a rock genre built around synthesizers (i.e., computers with musical input (e.g., keyboards)/output (e.g., amplifiers, speakers) devices. While some techno-pop artists have employed synthesizers merely for instrumental coloring (timbre), others applied them to reproduce the full range of ensemble performance from percussive effects to simulations of the human voice. Musicians make frequent use of pre-recorded tapes (or digital data stored on various types of computer software) both in the studio and for live shows.

The genre originated through the pioneering efforts of German bands such as Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk in the early 1970s. While Tangerine Dream was, in the long term, the more influential of the two aggregates--being largely responsible for the rise of new age space music and the ambient movement--Kraftwerk provided the model for dance-beat style utilized by the first wave of techno-pop artists. The band's "Autobahn"--an early permutation of the then emerging Euro-disco sound--was a major hit in early 1975. However, Kraftwerk failed to consolidate its success due to a lack of composing talent and the inability of the members to project a telegenic image.

The movement did not reach the mainstream until 1982 when the Human League's "Don't You Want Me" reached the top of the American music charts. The record business was suddenly awash with techno- pop acts, the most successful of whom included the Eurythmics, Soft Cell, Thomas Dolby, Depeche Mode, and A Flock of Seagulls. The ascendency of the genre owed much to (1) the rise of MTV combined with the multi-media savvy of techno-pop performers, (2) advances in electronic equipment which made a wide array of sounds achievable for artists with comparatively limited resources, and (3) the fact that AOR, Top 40, and other radio friendly formats had grown stale.

The competition from other newly emerging postpunk styles in the late 1980s drove techno-pop back underground. It mutated into "electronica" during the 1990s. Yet another strain resurfaced into the commercial mainstream in late 1996, albeit with more pronounced dance rhythms. Now known as "techno," its leading acts included Orbital, Prodigy, Underworld, and the Chemical Brothers.


Top Artists and Their Recordings

Bauhaus--In the Flat Field (1980); Mask (1981); Swing the Heartache - The BBC Sessions (1989)

Berlin--Pleasure Victim (1983); Love Life (1984); Count Three and Pray (1986)

The Buggles--"Video Killed the Radio Star" (1981); Adventures in Modern Recording (1982)

D.A.F./Deutsch Amerikanische Treundschaft--Alles Ist Gut (1981); Gold Und Liebe (1981)

Depeche Mode--Speak & Spell (1981); A Broken Frame (1982); People Are People (1984); Some Great Reward (1985); Black Celebration (1986); Music For the Masses (1987); 101 (1989); Violator (1990)

Thomas Dolby--Blinded By Science (1983); The Golden Age of Wireless (1983); The Flat Earth (1984); Aliens Ate My Buick (1988)

The Eurythmics--Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (1983); Touch (1984); Touch Dance (1984); 1984 (1984); Be Yourself Tonight (1985); Revenge (1986); Savage (1987); We Too Are One (1989)

Eyeless in Gaza--Photographs As Memories (1981); Pale Hands (1982)

Fad Gadget--Fireside Favorites (1980)

The Fashion--Product Perfect (1979)

A Flock of Seagulls--A Flock of Seagulls (1982); "I Ran" (1982); Listen (1983); The Story of a Young Heart (1984)

The Flying Lizards--The Flying Lizards (1980)

Heaven 17/B.E.F.--Heaven 17 (1983); The Luxury Gap (1983); Pleasure One (1987)

Human League--Dare (1982); Love and Dancing (1982); Fascination! (1983); Hysteria (1984); Crash (1986)

Human Sexual Response--Figure 14 (1980); In a Roman Mood (1981)

The Human Switchboard--Who's Landing in My Hanger? (1981); Coffee Break (1982)

Industry--Industry (1981)

Japan--Adolescent Sex (1977); Obscene Alternatives (1979); Tin Drum (1981)

Men Without Hats--Men Without Hats (1982); "Safety Dance" (1983)

Mi-Sex--Graffiti Crimes (1979); Computer Games (1980); Space Race (1980)

Gary Numan--Replicas (1979); The Pleasure Princple (1980); Telekon (1980); Dance (1981)

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark/OMD--Architecture & Morality (1982); Dazzle Ships (1983); Junk Culture (1984); Crush (1985); The Pacific Age (1986)

Our Daughter's Wedding--The Digital Cowboy EP (1981)

The Simple Minds--New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) (1983); Sparkle in the Rain (1984); Once Upon a Time (1985); Simple Minds Live: In the City of Light (1987); Street Fighting Years (1989); Real Life (1991)

Soft Cell--Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret (1981); Non-Stop Ecstatic Dancing (1982); The Art of Falling Apart (1983)

Synergy--Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra (1975); Sequencer (1976); Cords (1978)

The System--Sweat (1983); X-Periment (1984); Don't Disturb This Groove (1987)

Talk Talk--The Party's Over (1982); It's My Life (1984); The Colour of Spring (1986)

Tears For Fears--The Hurting (1983); Songs From the Big Chair (1985); The Seeds of Love (1989)

Telex--Looking For St. Tropez (1979); Neurovision (1980); Sex (1981)

Ultravox--Vienna (1980); Rage in Eden (1981); Quartet (1983); Lament (1984)

Yaz/Yazoo--Upstair's at Eric's (1982); You and Me Both (1983)

Yello--You Gotta Say Yes to Another Excess (1983); One Second (1987); Flag (1989)