Open Mic: What’s The Best Synthpop Track Ever?

synthpopAs long as there have been synthesizers, there have been composers creating pop synth music. Many of the earliest synth albums were ‘switched on’ or ‘mooged out’ versions of pop tracks, and tracks like Gershon Kingsley’s Popcorn and Kraftwerk’s Autobahn were the first synth music that many people ever heard.

But it took another decade for synth pop to take off as a genre, lead by artists like Gary Numan, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Ultravox & Depeche Mode. And it’s never really gone away since. 

What do you think the best synthpop ever is? Is there a synthpop song that was that influenced you, made you want to dance or that you think has become a true classic?

Leave a comment and let us know what you think!

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134 thoughts on “Open Mic: What’s The Best Synthpop Track Ever?

  1. Being Boiled – Human League
    Don’t You Want Me – Human League
    Say Hello Wave Goodbye – Soft Cell
    Breakdown – Colourbox

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  2. Not a vote, but I imagine many people heard the theme to Doctor Who long before they heard Kraftwerk’s Autobahn.

    For a vote, how about:

    Beautiful World – Devo

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  3. Vangelis – Movement 3 (Cosmos Theme)
    Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygène #4
    Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Trilogy
    Pink Floyd – Great Gig in the Sky

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      1. Maybe they weren’t labeled as Synthpop, but their music was a driving force in the evolution to Synthpop.

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    1. Here’s the video for It’s My Life for those who would like to take a trip down memory lane.

      I also forgot…..”Metro” by Berlin. This is a real toss up for me between these two.

      Oh hell…..while I’m at it why not “Words” by Missing Persions

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    1. Ride with my best friend. Depeche Mode.
      memoribilia-soft cell
      Suburbia-PSBs
      Seconds-Human League
      Hunt the self-Howard Jones
      Messages-OMD
      Down in the Park-Gary Numan
      Head like a hole-NiN

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  4. I want to say Kraftwerk but their music wasn’t really “pop” in the real dancefloor sense. So I’ll say Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough”, Yazoo’s “Don’t Go” and Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark’s “Enola Gay”.

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  5. A-ha — Take on me. It was my first-ever purchase of a cassette tape back in 1985. It was also the first synthesized song whose lyrics I memorized and have never forgotten.

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  6. Duran Duran – The Chauffeur
    Fallout Club – Dream Soldiers
    Robert Gorl – Mit Dir
    Thomas? Leer – Private Plane
    Trevor Herion – Love Chains
    John Foxx – Europe After The Rain

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    1. I’d really have to say that any one who was really into synths back in the 80’s would never, never……never consider Jump by Van Halen as an iconic synthesizer iconic song……never! But that is just me and the electronic music I was into in the 80’s.

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      1. Iconic sound (reproduced in many presets, and a great riff for torturing anyone at guitar center) but not synthpop.
        “Africa” by Toto also features an iconic sound, but it’s also not synthpop.
        Which reminds me – even if it’s not synthpop, I rather like “Subdivisions” by Rush.

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  7. +1 for everything, but my pick would be:
    Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams
    Although other songs may have had more influence, Sweet Dreams is (for me) perfect in every way.

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  8. Duran Duran – The Chauffeur
    Fallout Club – Dream Soldiers
    Robert Gorl – Mit Dir
    Thomas? Leer – Private Plane
    Trevor Herion – Love Chains
    John Foxx – Europe After The Rain

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  9. Erasure are surely the king and queen 😉 of Synthpop! It’s hard to single out which ones but I would put Sometimes, Victim of Love, Stop, A Little Respect, Blue Savannah, Chorus, Breath of Life, Always, Don’t Say Your Love is Killing Me in the list! 🙂

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    1. I agree, Vince Clarke is the absolute king of synth pop. Someone that I think deserves mention in this department but is often overlooked because he is a Christian artist is Ronnie Martin of Joy Electric-Five Stars for Failure and Old Wives Tales are two must have albums for any synth pop fan.

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  10. My vote goes to “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn.

    It has it all: Great melodies, emotionally complex lyrics, a sparse but effective arrangement and an amazing vocal sample solo.

    But there are sooooo many runner-ups…
    Ultravox – “Sleepwalk”
    The Postal Service – “Such Great Heights” (that one is SO obvious, how come no one has mentioned it?)
    Donkeyboy – “City Boy”
    Depeche Mode – “Everything Counts”
    Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls
    Propaganda – Duel

    And if you’re form Latin America (like me) you were seriously influenced by Chile’s proto-socialist, anti-dictatorship synth-rockers:

    Los Prisioneros – “Tren Al Sur”

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  11. Eurythmics – Here comes the rain again
    Depeche mode – Precious
    Real Life – Send me an angel
    Animotion – I enginner
    I wouldn’t really consider Gary Numan synthpop, but metal is my fav.

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  12. Cars, Gary Numan
    Everything Counts, Depeche Mode
    Only You, Yazoo
    Oh L’Amour, Erasure
    Sounds Like a Melody, Alphaville
    Underpants, I mean Underpass, John Foxx ( Yes, I have two small children who love to yell along!)
    Just Can’t Get Enough, DM
    The Robots, Kraftwerk

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  13. Laurie Anderson “Superman”
    MGMT “Kids”
    I am rather sure I’ll be alone on these two 😉

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  14. Maybe ’cause I heard it when it was new, but “Telstar” has had a lasting impact for me. Dunno if if it qualifies, actually…

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    1. In the “hit songs that were seriously ahead of their time” category, I think it’s hard to argue with “I Feel Love” for seemingly inventing a new category of music (at least in the US.)

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  15. I saw a vote for TRANS-X living on video….of course…. though I would say it’s electro-disco more than synth-pop. Another vote from me : NEON JUDGEMENT “chinese black”….. 30 years after they are still in the business and…still excellent http://youtu.be/D1ACeSd30Oc

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  16. Talk Talk : Today

    E.L.O – Twillight

    This was my first cassette t back in early 80s and still one of my favorite albums

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  17. There’s so much great synthpop (especially 80’s) that it’s impossible to choose.
    I like many of the suggestions so far (Vince Clarke may win for quality + quantity) but how about:

    When in Rome – The Promise
    Alphaville – Forever Young
    Cetu Javu – Have In Mind
    Anything Box – Living in Oblivion
    Dead or Alive – You Spin Me Round
    Howard Jones – What is Love
    Men Without Hats – Safety Dance

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  18. Oh, and “Mad World” by Tears for Fears!

    Which makes me wonder: what is the most commonly covered synthpop song, either on or off the charts? Blue Monday? (Is it really synthpop? Hmm…) I Feel Love? Forever Young?

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  19. certainly, these may not be a popular choices—
    old
    “Extra-ordinary” by TAKAHASHI Yukihiro.
    “View from a Bridge” by Kim Wilde
    “I Die You Die” by Gary Numan
    “Words” by Missing Persons
    “Deluxe” by Plastics
    “Ticket to the Tropics” by Cristina
    “High Pressure Days” by Units

    new (ish)
    “Star Fruits, Surf Rider” by Cornelius
    “Dead Wrestlers” by Bis
    “A Certain Person” by Light Asylum
    “???????” by URBANGARDE
    “Bad Dream Machine” by DAT Politics
    “Sunday Best” by You Lover Her Coz She’s Dead

    there are so many…this list is getting too long…

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  20. I wouldn’t claim to be able to say which is the BEST, but my hands down favorite is [b]Ryoko’s Theme[/b] from [b]Tenchi Muyo[/b].

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  21. Living in the Plastic Age – The Buggles
    Lawn Chairs – Our Daughters Wedding.
    The Robot’s – Kraftwerk
    Pop Muzik – M
    Cars – Gary Newman

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  22. Synthpop sounds not very serious – Das Model – the lightest song of Kraftwerk. And then comes the rest of those Don’t Go (Yazoo) and Fade to Grey (Visage) and Photographic (Depeche Mode).

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  23. Wow so many good songs.

    I’m really fond of

    Depeche Mode – Everything Counts
    A Ha – Take on Me

    And more recent synthpop Industrial musician oHgr makes some really good gritty catchy tunes.

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  24. It looks like people are interpreting synthpop to mean things more minimalistic bleep-ping-pong arps – Erasure style.
    For me, synthpop means the time when the first bands who went bleep, then started also holding the notes and adding chords, while posing. Anything with guitars is out.
    So;
    Winner: Human League – Love Action / Don’t you want me
    Runner ups:
    Depeche Mode – See You (okay, Just can’t get enough)
    Heaven 17 – Facist Groove Thang
    Visage – Fade to Grey
    Duran Duran – Girls on Film
    OMD – Enola Gay

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  25. Scritti Politti – Small Talk
    Dominatrix – The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight
    Herbie Hancock – Rockit
    Japan – The Art Of Parties
    to name but a few…

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  26. kraftwerk – model

    this track perfectly combines the crystal clear precision of the synthetic with the concept of emulation of emotion yet, evenmore so from a viewpont of today, incorporates an undoubtedly melancholic human element of despair with relation to the artists and the topic itself.

    it is by no means my fav track of kraftwerk or of the electro pop genre, but it seems so essentially proto from production to concept to performance, that i keep coming back decisively to it in my thoughts on the matter.

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  27. Ummm… Ok:
    Yazoo – Nobody’s Diary
    Soft Cell – Bedsitter
    OMD – The Messerschmitt Twins
    Severed Heads – Dead Eyes Opened
    Tuxedomoon – What Use
    Thomas Dolby – Leipzig
    Sparks – No.1 Song In Heaven
    Heaven 17 – I’m Your Money
    Yadda yadda yadda….

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  28. Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence
    The Knife – Heartbeats
    Kraftwerk – Computer Love
    Madonna – Into the Groove
    New Order – Blue Monday
    Kavinsky – Nightcall
    Raf – Self Control (More well-known cover by Laura Branigan)

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  29. I have taken the initiative to compile the votes for every song mentioned in this post so far (Jan 2015). Posts that mentioned more than one song were given separate votes each. Here it is:

    New Order – Blue Monday +48
    Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough +46
    Visage – Fade to grey +41
    Yazoo – Don’t Go +38
    Giorgio Moroder feat. Donna Summer – i Feel Love +33
    Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams +33
    Human League – Don’t You Want Me +31
    OMD – Enola Gay +26
    Yazoo – Situation +24
    Telex – Moskow Disco +23
    Kraftwerk – Das Model +22
    Depeche Mode – Everything Counts +20
    A-ha – Take On Me +19
    Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence +18
    Human League – Being Boiled 13
    John Foxx – Europe After The Rain +13
    Fallout Club – Dream Soldiers +13
    Erasure – A Little Respect +13
    Duran Duran – The Chauffeur +13
    Robert Gorl – Mit Dir +13
    Thomas Leer – Private Plane +13
    Trevor Herion – Love Chains +13
    Erasure – Sometimes +12
    Erasure – Victm of love +12
    Erasure – Stop +12
    Erasure – Blue Savannah +12
    Erasure – Chorus +12
    Erasure – Breath of Life +12
    Erasure – Always +12
    Erasure – Don’t Say Your Love is Killing Me +12
    Ultravox – Vienna +12
    Gary Numan – Cars +11
    Hot Butter – Popcorn +11
    Erasure – Oh L’Amour +11
    Heaven 17 – (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang +11
    Doctor Who Theme +11
    Devo – Beautiful World +11
    Space – Magic Fly +11
    Kraftwerk – The Robots +11
    Kraftwerk – Autobahn +11
    Kraftwerk – Computer Love +11
    John Foxx – Underpass +10
    Soft Cell – Say Hello Wave Goodbye +10
    The Knife – Heartbeats +10
    Yazoo – Only You +10
    Alphaville – Sounds Like a Melody +10
    OMD – Joan of Arc +9
    Depeche Mode – Sometimes I Wish I Was Dead +9
    Trans X – Living on Video +9
    Bronski Beat – smalltown boy +9
    Propaganda – Duel +8
    Gary Numan – Are Friends Electric +8
    Kraftwerk – Musique Non-Stop +8
    Soft Cell – Sex Dwarf +8
    Goldfrapp – Strict Machine +8
    Colourbox – Breakdown +7
    Laurie Anderson – Superman +7
    Propaganda – Dr.Mabuse +7
    MGMT – Kids +7
    Soft Cell – Tainted Love +7
    Ymo – Rydeen +7
    Gary Numan – Metal +6
    Kraftwerk – Neon lights +6
    Kraftwerk – Numbers +6
    Plastic Bertrand – Tout petit la planète +5
    Duran Duran – Save a Prayer +5
    Alexander Robotnick – C’est la Vie +5
    Kavinsky – Nightcall +5
    Landscape – Einstein a Go Go +5
    OMD – Messages +5
    OMD – Souvenir +5
    Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls +5
    Soft Cell – Torch +5
    Daft Punk – One More Time +4
    Donkeyboy – City Boy +4
    Jona Lewie – Kitchen at Parties + 4
    Los Prisioneros – Tren Al Sur +4
    Propaganda – P-Machinery +4
    The Postal Service – Such Great Heights +4
    Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend +4
    Soft Cell – Bedsitter +4
    Yello – Botisch +4
    Ultravox – Sleepwalk +4
    E.L.O. – Twilight +3
    Eurythmics – Here comes the rain again +3
    Giorgio Moroder – The chase +3
    Animotion – I enginner +3
    Depeche mode – Precious +3
    Peter godwin – Images of Heaven +3
    Real Life – Send me an angel +3
    Soft Cell – Memorabilia +3
    Sound of Science – Hydrodome +3
    Talk Talk – Today +3
    The Tornados – Telstar +3
    Thomas Dolby – Blinded by Science +3
    Ladytron – Playgirl +2
    Human League – Heart Like a Wheel +2
    Ad Visser & Daniel Sahuleka – Giddyap A Gogo +2
    Alphaville – Forever Young +2
    Anything Box – Living in Oblivion +2
    Cetu Javu – Have In Mind +2
    Chvrches – Lies +2
    Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star +2
    Dead or Alive – You Spin Me Round +2
    Depeche Mode – See you +2
    Howard Jones – What is Love +2
    Madonna – Into the Groove +2
    Men Without Hats – Safety Dance +2
    Duran Duran – Girls on Film +2
    Human League – Love Action +2
    Missing Persons – Words +2
    Mi-sex – Computer Games +2
    Raf – Self Control (More well-known cover by Laura Branigan) +2
    Talk Talk – It’s My Life +2
    Telepopmusic – Breath +2
    The Korgis – Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometimes +2
    Trio – Da Da Da +2
    When in Rome – The Promise +2
    Dominatrix – The Dominatrix Sleeps Tonight +1
    Devo – Whip It +1
    Heaven 17 – I’m Your Money +1
    Herbie Hancock – Rockit +1
    Japan – The Art Of Parties +1
    Mirage – Lake of Dreams +1
    OMD – The Messerschmitt Twins +1
    Propaganda – Wound In My Heart +1
    Rational Youth – Close To Nature +1
    Scritti Politti – Absolute +1
    Scritti Politti – Small Talk +1
    Severed Heads – Dead Eyes Opened +1
    Sparks – No.1 Song In Heaven +1
    Switched on Bach – Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring +1
    Tears For Fears – Mad World +1
    Thomas Dolby – Leipzig +1
    Tuxedomoon – What Use +1
    Yazoo – Nobody’s Diary +1
    Berlin – Metro +0
    Bis – Dead Wrestlers +0
    Buggles – Living in the Plastic Age +0
    Cornelius – Star Fruits new +0
    Cristina – Ticket to the Tropics +0
    DAT Politics – Bad Dream Machine +0
    Depeche Mode – Photographic +0
    Depeche Mode – Never Let Me Down Again +0
    Human League – Seconds +0
    Gary Numan – I Die you Die +0
    Gary Numan – Down in the Park +0
    Ghengis Khan – Moscow +0
    Howard Jones – Hunt the Self +0
    Kim Wilde – View from a Bridge +0
    Lena Lovich – New Toy +0
    Light Asylum – A Certain Person +0
    M – Pop Muzik +0
    Neon Judgement – Chinese Black +0
    NIN – Head Like a Hole +0
    Our Daughters Weddin – Lawn Chairs +0
    Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia +0
    Plastics – Deluxe +0
    Takahashi Yukihiro – Extra-ordinary +0
    Tenchi Muyo – Ryoko’s Theme +0
    Units – High Pressure Days +0
    Urbangarde – ??????? +0
    You Lover Her Coz She’s Dead – Sunday Best +0

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  30. Nobody mentioned YMO yet (though YT got a mention)

    Just so you can see Ryuichi Sakamoto on drums 😉

    Oh and it’s live too!

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