Published Nov 17, 2009Devotees of '70s/'80s synth pop, this one's for you. The BBC recently released a documentary called Synth Britannia, tracing the rise of British synthesizer music from fringe movement to pop sensation, and now the film has made its way online for all to see.
As well as making the usual arguments - that early synth pop was inspired by German electro visionaries Kraftwerk - the filmmakers also make some unique claims, such as identifying science fiction writer J.G. Ballard as one of the genre's most influential figures. (Laura Kaye, from the movie's production team, wrote a blog on how Ballard's dystopic vision of the future inspired electronic music.)
According to the filmmakers, the genre burst onto the mainstream in 1979 when Gary Numan and his band Tubeway Army appeared on Top of the Pops playing the hit "Are 'Friends' Electric?" This single moment inspired a legion of followers, including Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, OMD, Yazoo and more. Ultimately, artists like the Pet Shop Boys and New Order pushed the genre towards dance music.
The documentary features numerous appearances from high-profile artists including Gary Numan, Vince Clarke (Yazoo), Martin Gore (Depeche Mode), Philip Oakey (the Human League) and many more. It's a must-see if you're into geeking out and listening to electronic artists explain the inspiration behind their music.
To check all this out in its entire 87-minute glory, just hit play below.