August 24, 2011
Then: Cause & Effect are an American Synthpop band that were most popular during the early 1990’s and were one of the last synthpop bands to reach moderate success in the US charts. Their debut album, Another Minute, contained two top 10 dance hits and two US charted singles. The most successful of these singles, You Think You Know Her, peaked within the top 40. Things were looking very promising for the band, but tragedy struck the following year, when co-founding member and keyboardist Sean Rowley suddenly died when on tour with Information Society. Vocalist/guitarist Rob Rowe took some time off and recruited Keith Milo to create a reformed band. In 1994, they released their second and final major studio album, Trip, that included It’s Over Now which was to be their last song to make the US singles chart. It was also a change in sound that featured guitars more prominently against a clubby backdrop.
Now: Cause & Effect never broke up and have released albums independently every few years or so and have experimented with different sounds. The band is releasing their fifth studio album, Artificial Construct as a three-part series (how very
Robyn) to be released over the course of the year. They have just released a single and video for the “part 2” of the series called Happiness Is Alien.
August 18, 2011
Then: Composer Vince Clark is perhaps one of the most prolific songwriters of the synthpop genre, having previously been a member and principle songwriter for Depeche Mode’s first album and creating the short-lived, but highly influential Yaz. Vince recruited Andy Bell, and together they formed Erasure and released their first album, Wonderland in 1985. Although it contained the now classic hits Who Needs Love Like That and Oh L’amour, it failed to make much of an impact when it first came out. Things changed, however with the release of their second album, The Circus, whose lead single, Sometimes peaked at number 2 and became their highest peaking UK single. Success still alluded them in the US, but that changed with their third album, The Innocents, with 2 top 20 singles; Chains Of Love and A Little Respect. They would crack the top 20 only one more time in America with 1987’s Always, but had continued success in native Britain, scoring a top 10 hit as late as 2005 with Breathe (also a hit on the US Dance Club Charts).
Erasure - A Little Respect from Melanie Roberts on Vimeo.
Now: Erasure are about to release their fourteenth! studio album, called Tomorrow’s World, which is their first album in 4 years. To coincide with this release, Erasure will embark on a US tour and bop2pop already has his ticket and will be sure to tell you all about it! First single, When I Start To Break It All Down is typical Erasure. What do you think?
When I Start To Break It All Down
July 7, 2011
Then: The year was 1982. Johnny Are You Queer, a hilarious, tongue planted firmly in cheek anthem for disappointed faghags throughout the world and the gays who loved them, would propel Josie Cotton to novelty status and one semi-hit wonder. It also contained, in bop2pop’s humble opinion, the best album sleeve of all time. Things were looking very bright for Josie Cotton as she performed the single in the 80s Cheese-tastic film, Valley Girl. But just as quickly as her rise to cult fame was, so too was her decent into obscurity. A quick look on Wikipedia mentions a cameo in a low budget horror film in the mid 1980s alongside Adam Ant?! but nothing else.
Now: Josie Cotton has reappeared out of seemingly nowhere with a new single, See The New Hong Kong, which finds Josie, again, tongue planted firmly in cheek, this time, hoping to win over an entire city. Check it out.
June 21, 2011
Then: Taking their name from the movie Barbarella, Duran Duran were formed in the late 70s in Birmingham by Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy. By the time they released their debut album in 1981, lead singer Stephen had left to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Simon Le Bon (with additional members Roger and Andy Taylor). At first they had embraced the look and sound of the New Romantic movement, notably debut single, Planet Earth, but this would not last long. Their second album, RIO, saw the band adopt a more polished image and radio friendly sound. The change proved wildly successful, producing 4 hit singles, including Hungry Like The Wolf, that would win over the hearts and minds of millions of American teenage girls and gay boys. Hit single after hit single occurred including the most successful selling James Bond theme song (A View To A Kill). Duran Duran would become household names and one of the top selling artists of the 80s.
Now: Although The band never broke up, (but did go through a series of lineup changes), like many bands that became famous in the 80s, their profile dimmed as alternative rock (grunge) and rap became fashionable. They did score a hit in 1993 with Ordinary World, but for Duranies, this was an alien sound and they were no longer the band they had fallen in love with. The core members, Simon Lebon, Nick Rhodes, John, Andy and Roger Taylor would reunite in 2001 (although Andy would leave again in 2006) and score a moderate hit, (Reach Up For The) Sunrise, that saw a semi-return to their sound. The band parted ways with their record label in 2009 and recently released, through an independent label, All You Need is Now. Girl Panic is off this album and sees them again returning to their roots and the sound that made girls (and boys) swoon in the 80s.
June 20, 2011
Then: The Human League formed in Sheffield, England in 1977. Worldwide success alluded them until 1981, when after creative differences caused bandmates Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh to promptly leave the band and form Heaven 17. Lead singer, Philip Oakey faced without having a band to tour with, recruited teenage backing vocalists Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall in a nightclub and asked them to join him on tour as dancers and incidental vocalists. This collaboration resulted in them officially joining, and their next album, Dare would be met with international acclaim and is now considered one of pop music’s most influential albums. The single, Don’t You Want Me, accompanied by a splashy big budget video, would go on to sell over 2 million copies and make them household names. The band continued to have a string of hit albums and singles including Mirror Man, (Keep Feeling) Fascination and what bop2pop feels is waterdowned dreck, Human.
Don’t You Want Me
Now: The Human League have been active, releasing albums and singles ever since (Romantic (1990), Octopus (1995) and Secrets (2001)). This past year saw the release of Credo, their first album in nearly 10 years. Sadly, first two singles Night People and Never Let Me Go failed to make much of an impact both commercially or in bop2pop’s personal opinion, so now they are giving it another go with third single, Sky, which is more of a return to their roots, albeit, a funkier one (the warmth of it ironically sounds like something Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh would collaborate on if they had never left).
Sky (Radio Edit)
The Human League – Sky (Fusty Delights reMix)
May 19, 2011
Then: Blondie became one of the most influential and successful bands of the late 70’s to early 80’s. They evolved out of the New York punk scene and are considered one of the forefathers of the New Wave movement. What made the band unique was their ability to incorporate a wide variety of musical genres like disco, reggae and rap to their new wave sound. Their string of hit albums and singles came to a halt in 1982 with the release of the album, The Hunter. Critically panned and a commercial failure, things began to fall apart. Tensions between band members rose, and this coupled by drug abuse and the life-threatening illness of founding band member and Debbie Harry’s lover, Chris Stein, led the band to break up. Debbie Harry would spend the next several years by his side as he recovered. She would also launch a moderately successful solo career in the 90’s, and it was during this time that her decades long relationship with Chris Stein, who had recovered, ended.
Now: Blondie resurfaced briefly in 1999 with the album No Exit and single Maria, which was a moderate hit. Now they are back and ready to give it another shot. Mother is the first single to be taken from the forthcoming album, Panic Of Girls.
April 27, 2011
Then: It is hard to imagine that it was 30 years ago that a song would be released that would forever change my musical landscape. That song was Kids In America, and the artist is Kim Wilde. I remember watching MTV for the first time at my grandparents house and being completely mesmorized by the video, the synthesizers and of her. I had to have the single, then album, then consequent albums and singles. I joined the fan club, sought out and discovered other electronic bands and realized that Britain had all the good music. After Kids In America, Kim Wilde did not do so well in America until 1987 when her remake of the Supremes, You Keep Me Hanging On, concquered the American charts, climbing all the way to Number 1. She had a couple of near top 40 misses(Say You Really Want Me and You Came), before disappearing forever from American ears. Her success in the UK also began to decline, and with the exception of the occassional moderate hit, wasn’t able to keep the momentum she had built with her hugely successful album, Close.
Now: In 2003, Kim Wilde contributed vocals to the Nena track, Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime, which became a huge hit in Germany as well as some other European countries. This eventually led to a recording contract in Germany where she released an updated version of You Came and new song, Perfect Girl, which were well-received. Now she is back with a new album and lead single, Lights Down Low, returns her to her rockin’ dance years, particularly, Can’t Get Enough (Of Your Love) and Never Trust A Stranger.