This week it’s the UK’s most successful duo, The Pet Shop Boys. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe formed the synth band in London in 1981. Tennant worked for the massively popular music magazine “Smash Hits”. He met Chris in an electronics shop and discovered a common love of dance music. They produced songs and singles but didn’t hit it big until they signed to Parlophone and remixed some earlier material with new producer Stephen Hague. One of the remixes was “West End Girls” which started off slowly but then began a chart ascent ending at the number 1 summit in Jan 1986 (the first number one of that year)
It sold an estimated 1.5 million copies worldwide and is still probably their most well known hit.
They have had a consistently successful chart career ever since. They have sold 50 million records worldwide, having to date had 44 top forty hits including 22 top tens and four number 1s.
In 2009 they got a Brit “Outstanding Contribution to Music” award and in 2016, Billboard named them the number one dance duo/group over the last 40 years. In 2017 they got NME’s “Godlike Genius Award”.
They continue to release music, with album “Super” released in 2016 and reached number 3 in the album chart.
There are just two of my favourites of theirs.
“Heart” was number 1 for three weeks in April 1988
(Uploaded to YouTube by Christoff Wehmeyer)
“Left to My Own Devices” reached number 4 in Nov 1988
(Uploaded to YouTube by PetShopBoysParlophone)
Some electronic pop this week from one of Britain’s most enduring and distinctive bands. They are still going today after forming back in 1980. It’s Depeche Mode who have had 43 top forty singles including 14 top tens. Here are just two of their hits.
“Just Can’t Get Enough” reached number 8 in Sept 1981
(Uploaded to YouTube by DaKraftyFella)
“Everything Counts” reached number 6 in July 1983
(Uploaded to YouTube by juliAna q-_-p)
This week we have two massively catchy one hit wonder songs from 1979 which is my favourite year in pop. This was a massively strong year with all the biggest hitters in music active. These two songs burned brightly for their artists who couldn’t match their success again.
“Pop Muzik” by British band M was number 2 for two weeks in May 1979. It would have been a number 1 most other times but 1979 was a strong year. It was held off the top spot by “Bright Eyes” by Art Garfunkel which turned out to be the biggest selling hit that year and that number one was deposed by “Sunday Girl” by Blondie which was the 9th biggest hit that year. “Pop Muzik” was the 14th biggest hit, so not too shabby!
disco version of “Pop Muzik” by M
(Uploaded to YouTube by Clasicos de la Disco)
Next up is “My Sharona” by American rock band The Knack. This song reached number 6 in June 1979 in the UK. It didn’t make the UK 100 songs of the year
but it did top the US BIllboard hot 100 year end song list beating off competition from Donna Summer, Chic, Rod Stewart and many other famous artists. The song is famous for its very distinctive drum and guitar riff.
(Uploaded to YouTube by TheKnackVEVO)
This week it’s British band Scritti Politti who had hits mainly in the 80s. Lead singer Green Gartside’s floaty, ethereal voice over an electro,synthesiser beats made for a distinctive sound. They had five top 40s, including two top 10s.
“Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin) reached number 10 in March 1984
(Uploaded to YouTube by Leon Campana)
“Absolute” reached number 17 in June 1984
(Uploaded to YouTube by SolsburyHill22)
This week it’s two synth-pop tracks from 1982
The first song is by British group New Musik who are best known for their 1980 hit “Living By Numbers”. The song here is a great track from their 1982 album “Warp”
“A Train on Twisted Tracks” by New Musik
(Uploaded to YouTube by Pici Ramone)
The next track is the biggest hit by Australian band Icehouse. On this track in particular lead singer Iva Davies sounds like Bryan Ferry, who he said he was influenced by.
“Hey Little Girl” (disco edit mix) by Icehouse, a top 20 hit in Jan 1983 (released in 82)
(Uploaded to YouTube by RockAndPopClassic)
This week we have two of the most famous bands from the 80s. These tracks are from 1984.
“Only When You Leave” (extended) by Spandau Ballet reached number 3. This is a lesser known track but one of my favourites of theirs.
(Uploaded to YouTube by Bradly Sweet)
“The Reflex” (extended) by Duran Duran, number 1 for four weeks
(Uploaded to YouTube by TheOWF)
This week it’s some late 80s synth-pop from some well known exponents of the genre
First it’s “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode from 1989
(Uploaded to Youtube by ClassiccHouse)
Next up it’s “The Prisoner” by Howard Jones from the same year
(Uploaded to Youtube by RockAndPopClassic)