Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tenderness by General Public

Although I either missed it (or forgot about it, more likely, since it is in the soundtrack for the classic teenage hijinx movie Weird Science, "Tenderness" by General Public has shown up over and over again in 80s compilations and retrospectives. It's ironically one of the 80s songs that I've heard most since the 80s... but not that often in the 80s.

It's perhaps somewhat questionable to include it on a synthpop retrospective, but to me that's one of the interesting things about "Tenderness" (and lots of other songs from the 80s)--it's mainstream pop, and it's very heavily draped in synthlines and synthesizers. Synthpop was very mainstream during much of the 80s ("Tenderness" was released in 1984). General Public's background were, in fact, as 2 Tone ska/punk/reggae hybrid, when singers David Wakeling and Ranking Roger left the breaking group The Beat and formed General Public instead. But in the mid-80s, everyone was integrating elements of synthpop into their music. This has actually continued through to today. Even when grunge rock and other genres surged in popularity, the synthpop influence never completely went away, and hits by Madonna and Cher in the early 90s are straight-up synthpop tracks. In recent years, artists like LIGHTS, Mike Posner, Owl City and others are also arguably classified as synthpop. A string of bands for years now, including Franz Ferdinand, Blur, The Killers and more are also clearly heavily influenced by synthpop, even if they might not qualify as straight up synthpop directly.

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