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Electropop is a form of electronic music that is made with synthesizers, and which first flourished from 1978 to 1983. Electropop laid the groundwork for a mass market in chart-oriented pop and dance music. Numerous bands have since carried on the electropop tradition into the 1990s and 2000s.

Electropop is characterized by an emphasized electronic sound — often described as cold and robotic — and by minimal arrangements. This was mainly due to the limitations of the analog synthesizers and recording techniques used at the time, but has since become a stylistic choice.

Electropop songs are pop songs at heart, often with simple, catchy hooks and dance beats, but differing from those of electronic dance music genres which electropop helped to inspire — techno, house, electroclash, etc. — in that songwriting is emphasized over simple danceability. They often feature alienated deadpan lyrics with a futuristic sci-fi edge.


Many early electropop artists were Britishmarker and were inspired by David Bowie's "Berlin period" albums Heroes and Low, the German band Kraftwerk, late 70s Electronic Disco (Giorgio Moroder in particular) and the Japanese group Yellow Magic Orchestra. Some groups also took inspiration from the NYC synthpunk group Suicide, and the Krautrock groups Neu!, Cluster, and Can.

By the early 1980s there had been a long history of experimental avant-garde electronic music, notably in northern Europe that provided access to a bank of technical expertise built up over decades, via organisations such as the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and the London Electronic Music Studios. These institutions were patronised by early rock synth pioneers such as Brian Eno, Roxy Music, Tangerine Dream, and Pink Floyd.

The first bands to be labeled as "Electro-Pop" by media were The Human League, Depeche Mode and Soft Cell in 1980-1981. The term became widely adopted in British media to set apart these bands from the previous post-punk, futurists and new wave acts which didn't use a fully electronic set-up or simply were not regarded as Pop.

Electropop's early steps ,and the Numan Futurist movement in particular, were strongly disparaged in the British music press of the late 1970s and early 1980s as the "Adolf Hitler Memorial Space Patrol" (Mick Farren).

Despite this Electropop flourished in the United States in black culture, particularly in Detroitmarker. Musicians such as A Number of Names and Cybotron pursued a version of the style inflected by R&B and funk which eventually established the Detroit techno scene. Afrika Bambaata, from New York, also invented the electro style of hip-hop by sampling Kraftwerk.

Electropop underwent a revival in early 2000s notably with the electroclash movement. A number of electropop musicians came out of the electroclash scenes, going on to make popular albums from 2002 to present, from London, New York, Berlin, and Ann Arbor. These have included Fischerspooner, Ladytron, Melnyk, Temposhark, Peaches, Gonzales, The Whip, Dragonette, Matthew Dear, T. Raumschmiere, Ellen Allien, Miss Kittin Owl City, and The Knife. In Francemarker, Mademoiselle, a project from Martin de Volanges.

Current wave of female electro-pop acts

2009 saw a rise in popularity of female electro-pop artists.. In the "Sound of 2009" poll of 130 music experts conducted for the BBC 10 of the top 15 artists named were of the electro-pop genre. "Electropop princess" Lady Gaga has charted with two UK No.1 singles, as well as a No.1 album. A video by Little Boots, aka Victoria Hesketh who topped the BBC poll showed her using a Tenori-on, a Japanese computerized sequencer that layers sounds on top of each other. Her first album debuted at number 5. Other female electro-pop artists of note are Ladyhawke, La Roux and Perfume. Pop icon Britney Spears has also somewhat transitioned to electro-pop with hit singles like "Womanizer" and "3". Electropop has also seen a large rise in influence on the pop music industry due to success in the United States throughout the year 2009.

James Oldham, head of artists and repertoire at A&M Records was quoted as saying "All A&R departments have been saying to managers and lawyers: 'Don't give us any more bands because we're not going to sign them and they're not going to sell records.' So everything we've been put on to is electronic in nature."

See also


  1. Greg Villepique, Salon, January 25, 2000. [1] Access date: August 11, 2008.
  2. Rachel Devitt, "Geeks of electro-pop meld man, machine in mind-blowing show", The Seattle Times, April 28, 2004. [2] Access date: August 11, 2008.
  3. "Yellow Magic Orchestra reunite for Massive Attack's Meltdown." Side-Line. [3] Access date: August 11, 2008.
  4. Scott Thill, "All-Star Admirers Resuscitate Suicide", Wired Listening Post, June 24, 2008. [4] Access date: August 13, 2008.
  5. The Seth Man, Julian Cope Presents Head Heritage, June 1, 2004. [5] Access date: August 14, 2004
  6. Daniel Mumford, Fischerspooner review, May 6, 2002. [6] Access date: August 14, 2004.
  7. Blender Blog, "Live: The Electro-Pop George Clooney", [7] Access date: August 14, 2008.
  8. John Sobolewski, "WZBC Recommends Electropop Radio Blackout", The Heights, September 29, 2003. [8] Access date: August 14, 2008.
  9. Don Crispy, Metropolis. [9] Access date: August 14, 2008.
  10. Christen Reutens, "Sonar 2008: Miss Kittin Interview", Beatportal, June 19, 2008. [10] Access date: August 14, 2008.
  11. Maybe I'm Dreaming: Owl City [11] Access date: July 9, 2009.
  12. Drowned in Sound: The Knife [12] Access date: August 20, 2008.
  13. Number one single for Lady GaGa BBC 11 January, 2009
  14. Lady GaGa holds onto chart crown BBC 29 March, 2009
  15. Lady GaGa, Calvin Harris Top U.K. Charts Billboard 13 April, 2009
  16. 25 faces to watch in 2009 The Times 8 January, 2009
  17. Lady GaGa: pop meets art to just dance The Telegraph 21 January, 2009
  18. UK gaga for electro-pop, guitar bands fight back The Kuwait Times January 28, 2009
  19. Lily Allen Brings The Fear New York Press
  20. Lily Allen scores second UK Number One single NME 1 February, 2009
  21. Kasabian, Pixie Lott Debut Atop U.K. Charts Billboard 15 June, 2009
  22. Gaga for girl power Sydney Morning Herald 28 February, 2009
  23. La Roux, Lady Gaga, Mika, Little Boots: the 80s are back The Telegraph 5 August, 2009


  • Depeche Mode & The Story of Electro-Pop, Q/Mojo magazine collaboration, 2005.
  • Electronic Music: The Instruments, the Music & The Musicians by Andy Mackay, of Roxy Music

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