The Eurythmics: Pioneers of Synthpop

The indomitable 1980s birthed many a cultural phenomenon still popular today, including big hair, leg warmers and the wonderfully addictive Rubik’s Cube. Musically, however, the era produced something even better: synthpop. A combination of the electro sounding synthesiser and mainstream pop, the genre took off at the beginning of the 80s in Germany, Japan and the UK.

A duo that profited from the creation of the vibrant new musical sound, and made a name as one of the genre’s foremost bands, were Eurythmics. Comprised of Scottish singer/songwriter Annie Lennox and English-born David A. Stewart, they formed in 1980 after leaving their previous band The Tourists, and went on to be one of the most influential synthpop bands of the decade- perhaps even of the last thirty years.

A bold claim perhaps, but one that is easily justifiable. Rather than looking up statistics of platinum album sales and concert successes, just take their name. Like the Pet Shop Boys and Spandau Ballet, their name was uniquely memorable, bordering on iconic, and their music was ideally timed to match the tone of a generation who were ready for revolution. Eurythmics, however, had the fluid, soulful adaptability of Lennox’s vocals that neither of the other two did.

Adaptability is, in fact, one of the key talents that allowed them to continue creating successful, chart-topping music for as long as they did. Songs from their synthpop albums, such as ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ and ‘“Who’s That Girl?”’, sound very different to those on their pop/rock and new wave albums Revenge and Savage, from the latter half of the 1980s.

The duo were also notably involved in the Second British Invasion of the US, a period from summer 1982 to autumn 1986 when, with the help of new cable channel MTV, a variety of British synthpop and new wave groups became hugely popular in America.

Despite their talent, and the ease with which they were able to move with the times, a rift formed between Lennox and Stewart and they disbanded in 1990 without giving any prior notice. Their success, however, continued with their solo careers, before they reunited in 1999 and produced the album Peace. In the resulting Peacetour, the two donated all the funds raised to Greenpeace and Amnesty international.

After another six year run, Eurythmics released their Ultimate Collection and closed the studio door one final time. Their newer music has style and Lennox’s more recent solo albums are full of her original flair, but a lot of the listening enjoyment comes from reminiscing back to their synthpop heydays. Eurythmics have proved they have staying power in the industry over the years, but there’s nothing quite like their 80s hits, best served with a dash of nostalgia.

Kate Lovatt

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