Smooth Sailing: Sophisti-Pop & Synth-Wave

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Enjoy the 1980s inspired episode of Smooth Sailing! Sophisti-pop or sophisticated pop was a smooth, jazzy style of mainstream pop/rock that appeared during the mid-1980s. In addition to jazz, many sophisti-pop artists incorporated sweet pop-soul into their sound. The dominant synthesizers that usually polished the arrangements marked sophisti-pop as a product of the 1980s. With its slick production and mellow, urbane feel, sophisti-pop fit both adult contemporary and quiet storm radio formats, but it never became an established trend. By the beginning of the 1990s, when house and hip hop became big, it was pushed out of the market. Simply Red and Sade were probably commercially the most successful exponents of sophisti-pop. Other important representatives were Matt Bianco, Curiosity Killed The Cat, Hue & Cry and The Blow Monkeys.

Synth-wave was the electronic variant of new wave. The artists were young DIY artists with cheap keyboards that knocked on the door in the slipstream of punk at the end of the 1970s. They were mainly influenced by electro pioneers Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder.

The Human League
The Human League are an English synth-wave band formed in steel city Sheffield in 1977. They were originally an avant-garde all-male synthesizer-based group. The only constant band member since the beginning is vocalist and songwriter Philip Oakey. Under his leadership The Human League evolved into a commercially successful synthpop band, although they have had some ups and downs over the years. Since 1987 the band has essentially been a trio of Oakey and long-serving female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley (both of whom joined the ensemble in 1980), with various sidemen. The Human League have released 10 studio albums, dozens of singles and numerous compilation albums so far. They have had five albums and eight singles in the UK Top 10 and have sold more than 20 million records. Their single 'Human' reached the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986. The Human League influenced all kinds of electro based artists (especially their album 'Dare'), like Lady Gaga, and they are still a joy to see at live gigs.

Shaun Escoffery – Perfect Love Affair (2014)
ABC – S.O.S. (1983)
Legs 11 – Pessimist (2015)
Destroyer – Kaputt (2011)
Chagrin D'Amour – Au Paradis (1982)
Kenny Pore – My Heart Knows (1985)
Hue & Cry – Looking For Linda (1989)
Underground – Behind My Back (1981)
Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World (1985)
Dubstar ‎– Not So Manic Now (1995)
Du Tonc – We Can Hold On (2015)
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark ‎– Secret (1985)
Toba – Moving Up (1982)
Skylephant – Android Love (2015)
Chromeo – Jealous [Exmag Remix] (2014)
Wings – Good Night Tonight (1979)
American Gypsy – Queen For A Day (1975)
Khemistry – I Can't Lose With The Stuff I Use (1982)
George Aaron – Silly Reason (1985)
The Human League – Hard Times (1981)


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