arachnekallisti: (Default)
Ah, 14th February comes round again. At this time of year I find myself wandering round the town centre feeling more than usually like a badly-programmed android who does not understand these strange human emotions of yours. Good job some people like that kind of thing...

1. An Pierle - Are 'Friends' Electric?
Acoustic piano cover of a Gary Numan song. Stylish in a Blade Runner-esque cyberpunk cabaret kind of way.

2. Apoptygma Berzerk - Kathy's Song (Victoria Mix by VNV Nation)
"Kathy" is Stephen Groth's computer, and "Victoria" is one of the OSX text-to-speech voices. Because who could know you better than your computer, after all the clicks and keystrokes it's seen?

3. Jonathan Coulton - Better
A cautionary tale about the strain transhumanism can place on a relationship.

4. Goldfrapp - Strict Machine
According to Alison Goldfrapp, this is a song about wireheading.

5. Oh Land - Human
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] monarda_if for introducing me to this one. Isn't it just crying out for a GLaDOS/Chell fanvid?

6. Voltaire - The Sexy Data Tango
Contains some of the geekiest innuendoes I have ever heard, and that really is saying something. In fact, this song is entirely made of geeky innuendo.

7. Add N To (X) - Metal Fingers In My Body
This is what happens when you combine vintage synthesizers and filthy minds. The video is thoroughly NSFW.

8. Freezepop - Robotron 2000
The lyrics are an absolutely straightforward little slice of retro SF. Apocalyptic war. Robot boyfriend. Could have come out of Astounding Science Fiction in the 50s.

9. Thermostatic - Metal Skin
Like a videogame soundtrack from the 80s remixed with proper synth and sweet, playful vocals. Chiptune FTW.

10. Duran Duran - Electric Barbarella
Another absolutely lyrically straightforward song - it's about falling in love with a sexbot. Used a fanvid here because the original video kinda squicked me - this one has the technofetishism without quite so much sexism.

Videos under the cut... )
arachnekallisti: (act her age)
You could make a case that it was in 1969 that synthpop as we know it was born. The first time that it occurred to someone that you could make purely electronic music that you could dance to. That case would be a track called "Popcorn", recorded by Gershon Kingsley on his album Music to Moog By.

"Popcorn" has gone on to become something of a synthpop standard. It's been covered by everyone from Aphex Twin to the Swedish Chef. There's at least 79 versions around, but these are my personal favourites:

1. Gershon Kingsley, 1969.
The original, and possessed of a certain retro charm. Quite different from later versions - the melody's slightly different, and it doesn't have the chorus in.

2. Hot Butter, 1972.
Arguably the definitive version, and the basis for all subsequent ones.

3. Marsheaux, 2004.
Probably my favourite. Chilly and ethereal.

4. Muse, 2010.
Prog-rock version with lots of guitar.

5. Fiddler's Green, 2003.
Folk-metal version. THIS IS AWESOME.

6. Aphex Twin, 1992.
Uncompromising experimental electronica version.

7. The Popcorn Orchestra, 1972.
Actually Jean-Michel Jarre, before he was famous.

8. The M & H Band, 1987.
Not actually Jean-Michel Jarre, although they're doing a pretty good impression of him.

9. Guru Josh, 1990.
Live acid house version. Quite fun, but goes on a bit.

10. Necronomikids, 2009.
Surf rock thrash version. Fast, fun, but over a bit too soon.

Videos under the cut. )
arachnekallisti: (Default)
I'm actually rather looking forward to the festive period this year. Time off work, chance to catch up with friends and relatives I don't see much of, an excuse to give people I like some nice things, and some parties. Sounds good to me.

Anyway, Obscure Christmassy Songs That Are Not Completely Naff. Some exist, and here they are. (The absence of Pogues is not because I don't like "The Fairytale Of New York" - far from it - it's because I'm assuming you know about it already.)

1. Half Man Half Biscuit - "It's Cliched To Be Cynical At Christmas"
A sweet, dreamy melody that sounds a bit Cocteau Twins, and kids singing carols. Offbeat even for HMHB, but a defiant celebration of having fun even if it isn't very cool. The video is filmed in and around the Wirral, and I shall stop before I go off on another Northern Pride kick.
2. Kate Bush - "December Will Be Magic Again"
It's Kate Bush being all sort of perky and otherworldly. Like one of Santa's elves as reimagined by Brian Froud and Tim Burton.
3. St Etienne featuring Tim Burgess - "I Was Born On Christmas Day"
Bright, euphoric synthpop with just enough in the way of bells to sound festive without being syrupy. Invigorating like a clear and frosty morning.
4. Zombina and the Skeletones - "A Chainsaw for Christmas"
The eternal problem of the well-intentioned but utterly unsuitable Christmas present gets a psychobilly/bubblegum pop/B-movie treatment. Squick and gore warnings as regards the video. Very festive.
5. Jonathan Coulton - "Chiron Beta Prime"
A Christmas circular from a family enslaved by robots in deep space, to an incredibly perky tune. Probably the best Christmas song about a dystopian future ever.
6. Goldfrapp - "Winter Wonderland"
A gorgeous, sparkly, ethereal synthpop cover. Perfect for the Dr Who Christmas fanvid :)
7. The Kinks - "Father Christmas"
A department store Father Christmas gets mugged by a teenage gang. Christmas with a side of class war.
8. The Vandals - "Oi To The World"
A ska-flavoured punk appeal for tolerance, forgiveness and a bit less bloody racism this Christmas. Are you listening, Daily Mail?
9. All About Eve - "Last Christmas"
A sweet, wistful version, all mist and snow. Pleasantly melancholy.
10. The Darkness - "Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)"
Justin Hawkins does his quasi-parodic rock god thing to great, and transcendently silly, effect here. The obligatory bells and childrens' choir blended with the Darkness' trademark falsetto vocals, swooping guitars, lycra and knob jokes. I can't go through Christmas without listening to this.

Videos under the cut )
arachnekallisti: (Default)
Well, I'm still in Thesis Hell right now, and all that's keeping me going is caffeine, Final Fantasy VII slash and synthpop. I love synthpop. It forcibly alters my brain chemistry and makes me feel all perky and motivated.

Top ten: encouraging happy synthpop tunes
1. Marsheaux - "Empire State Human"
A rather inspired cover of a particularly silly Human League song. And a shameless power fantasy for the shortarse.
2. Goldfrapp - "Alive"
The 80s never ended. The vid is hilarious - sparkly vampires, you're doing it right. And you can only get away with it if you're Alison Goldfrapp.
3. Dragonette - "Take It Like A Man"
Unbelievably catchy hook, incredibly kinky lyrics, and a chorus that sounds a bit like Abba. What's not to like?
4. Marsheaux - "Pure"
The track that first got me fangirling Marsheaux. Another fantastic cover version, this time making a rather twee Lightning Seeds song into something sweet and otherwordly.
5. Freezepop - "Less Talk More Rokk"
Deserves some kind of award for Best Riff In Synthpop. Also one for Best Use Of Mice In A Pop Video.
6. Ladytron - "Burning Up"
A smoky, ominous wall of distortion with a kind of mad obsessive intensity. Also featured in an episode of "Fringe", if you're interested.
7. Covenant - "Dead Stars"
Sleek, stylish, incredibly danceable.
8. Goldfrapp - "Ooh La La"
Flashy, glam, discoey. Simple but incredibly catchy. And references Baudelaire in the lyrics.
9. Marsheaux - "Popcorn"
Another Marsheaux cover version. Because they are rather good at them. A coldly glittery version of the synthpop standard.
10. Erasure - "Drama!"
Starts off subtle, goes for the slow burn, then erupts into a fullblown dancefloor anthem with brilliantly arch vocals.

Videos below the cut. )

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