Tuesday, October 5, 2010

So Many People by Hubert Kah

Well, it looks like I made a mistake with my last post. Although I had thought "Cold War in the Brainbox" was out well before the 80s ended, it was actually released in 1990. So, rather than trying to fight the trend, I've decided to make a slight scope change to this blog.

See, the 80s as a time-bound chronological unit are easy enough to demarcate, but as a pop-culture unit, it's not quite so simple, because musicians aren't thoughtful enough to hold onto their ideas and release them all at the same time. To whit; the 80s synthpop movement really started probably with some early Ultravox. "Hiroshima Mon Amour" from 1977 is considered by many to be the first true synthpop song, and their Systems of Romance from 1978 the first synthpop album. That certainly fits under the aegis of "80s synthpop" regardless of the release date. Excluding Gary Numan's classic The Pleasure Principle or his Tubeway Army work because they had a late 1979 release also seems like a quixotic endeavor. So, I'm not going to worry about going slightly before time if the songs I'm talking about are clearly part of the same movement of 80s synthpop as the main thrust of this blog.

At the same time, the 80s continued as a musical block a little bit beyond the actual 80s as well... it was probably sometime after the explosive releases of Nirvana's "Smell Like a Teen Spirit" and Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" in 1991 and 1992 that brought alternative rock into the mainstream in a much bigger way than any previous efforts had managed to do, and simultaneously changed the course of record labels everywhere, thrusting synthpop into a mostly underground role for years to come. That's odd that it was grunge that did that, if you think about it. U2 and R.E.M. were certainly no slouches before then, and had had massively successful alternative rock album releases of their own (The Joshua Tree and Green respectively) yet somehow managed to do so without substantially changing the landscape of popular music. But somehow the grunge releases spelled the death knell for 80s synthpop as we knew it.

In any case, other than waxing long-winded on the wisdom of holding looser boundaries to the 80s as a musical block, I'm also here to provide you with a rather obscure (at least to American audiences) track by Germans Hubert Kah from 1989. I was lucky to be familiar (at least a little bit) with some of the musical scenes outside of the US, so I heard a few of the Continent's hits that were never aired, released, or really even known about here in North America. Hubert Kah were one such group, that I always thought sounded very similar to their fellow countrymen, the slightly more universally successful Alphaville.

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