Many may have deemed the synth-pop music genre to be a goner in the 1990s. By then, the initial popularity of the gender-bending music style that relies heavily on synthesizers and drum machines had been largely pushed aside by a resurgence of acts utilizing traditional instruments. However, in the twenty-first century, synth-pop has experienced renewed, lasting popularity. Here we discuss what characteristics of synth-pop have contributed to its lasting influence.
Catchy Beats and Optimistic Lyrics
You can’t beat a simple song that makes you feel good and makes you want to dance. Synth-pop songs are often based on simple topics, and they are generally optimistic in nature. While some groups may tackle deeper subjects, many stick to themes of love and escape. Star Bomb is a band heavily influenced by synth-pop whose light-hearted song lyrics reflect their love of pop culture and video games. These less-weighty topics are widely appealing to people who want to listen to music that simply makes them feel happy and perhaps incites them to do a little dancing around the club or in their living room.
Gender-Bending Fashion and Culture
While it may be one of the characteristics that has brought the genre the most criticism over the years, the gender-bending style of synth-pop may be one key to its enduring popularity. For those populations that have been largely excluded from mainstream rock culture, synth-pop was and continues to be a haven. Indeed, the androgynous looks of stars such as Annie Lennox and Martin Gore emphasized the genre’s disconnect from the mainstream’s obsession with strict heterosexuality. Gay, female, and introverted artists and fans may connect with the synth-pop genre and relate to its participants in ways that they wouldn’t be able to with mainstream artists.
Finally, but certainly not least important to the enduring popularity of synth-pop, is the role of the synthesizer itself in the music. While love for this instrument has certainly ebbed and flowed over the years, the final opinion seems to be that it’s here to stay. Largely snubbed by traditional artists, this electronic instrument has found its way into the sound of mainstream rock artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, and ZZ Topp. In addition, the instrument continues to have a large influence on house music. For all of the detractors it’s gained over the decades, many experts would argue that the instrument is here to stay.
No music genre is going to appeal to everyone. While many people connect over their love of certain bands, artists, or styles of music, people’s taste in music can also be polarizing. Those who enjoy the simple themes and catchy beats of synth-pop music may be ridiculed by traditionalists who believe that the synthesizer isn’t an instrument to be taken seriously. However, decades of history have shown that while synth-pop may have experienced significant dips in popularity, its influence is here to stay. Those that appreciate its light-hearted messages, catchy dance beats, and gender-bending style will be dancing to synth-pop in the clubs and their living rooms for years to come.