80’s British synthpop duo Yazoo proved how polar opposites can join forces to create something completely unique. The duo formed in 1981 when synthesizer player and songwriter Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode and won over bluesy, soul singer Alison Moyet, who was not a fan of synths. Alison had placed an ad in a music magazine to find musicians interested in forming a blues band with her. Vince was the only response she got and he wanted to work with her because he knew what a powerhouse vocalist she was. Alison fell in love with Vince’s song “Only You” and the two released it as their first single, becoming a hit in the UK. This electronic ballad was truly groundbreaking as well as heartbreakingly beautiful. Vince thought Alison could deliver lots of emotion with her voice and he was spot on.
The pair continued crafting songs in uncharted territory and released their second single “Don’t Go” in 1982 just before the release of their debut album Upstairs At Eric’s. “Don’t Go” was a feisty dance track that highlighted the strength of Alison’s voice and the originality of Vince’s synth melodies. Initially, I wasn’t sure if I liked this song, but I quickly started to love it. It’s super fun to shout “don’t goooo!”. The spooky music video is also adorable.
Yazoo quickly rose to fame, but they split up as soon as their second album was released in 1983. The only single released from You and Me Both was “Nobody’s Diary”, my favorite Yazoo song. The song is very innocent lyrically and drives along with bouncy synths. To me, it almost feels like it should have been their first single ever released. I suppose that’s because Alison wrote it when she was just 16, when the fear of heartbreak is all too real, but not yet understood. There’s a sweet naivety to “Nobody’s Diary” that I adore.
Alison and Vince both found success after Yazoo. Vince went on to form Erasure (whom I love) with Andy Bell and Alison has had a successful solo career. It’s weird to think that there would be no Yazoo without Depeche Mode and no Erasure without Yazoo. I love all three groups so I can’t imagine that. Vince Clarke is a genius in my eyes and my number one dream music collaboration. He’s just so talented.
Thanks to Yazoo, I came to the realization that synthpop is my favorite music genre. Synthpop incorporates lyrical hooks and pop themes with the predominant synthesizers that set the genre apart. Often times, it can sound dark or mysterious. I believe synths can evoke emotions, too. Many synthpop stars are feminine men. I just think that’s really cool and inspiring. It’s as if this genre was created for me. However, I couldn’t resist gothing it up a bit.
There’s going to be a lot more synthpop talk on my blog moving forward. Over this past summer, I developed an obsession for 80’s synthpop music and it hasn’t gone away. Stupidly, I guess I never realized that some of my favorite artists, such as La Roux and Shiny Toy Guns, actually cite Yazoo as an influence. I remember hearing La Roux’s “Bulletproof” on the radio a few years ago and being mesmerized by the electronic sound of it. Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” also blew my mind. I didn’t know it was actually its own genre of music called synthpop until much later. Or that it originated in the 80’s. It’s embarrassing, I know. I only lived through three months of the 80’s, though, so forgive me. lol
I feel like it’s my duty to put synthpop back on the musical map. I can actually understand now why goth model Adora Batbrat named her children after synthesizers. lol I hope to introduce a synthpop cover series on my Youtube channel in which I sing songs from the past and present while dancing around with full glam garb on. Insane idea? Probably. That’s why I’m doing it! I’m so sick of being serious. No time for it anymore. 2015 is the year of FUN. Get with it or move along.