revolutions in music

this page is about songs that marked music history. this is out of a truly subjective perspective and currently limited to recent history. the songs aren't necessarily the best in their style, but in many cases the first, or at least the first to hit the general public.
space - magic fly pretty much introduced electronic pop music together with vangelis' pulstar, jean-michel jarre's oxygene album and moskow diskow by telex. kraftwerk soon followed up with the man machine. this stuff inspired people to experiment more with electronics. it got rockers and punkers like ultravox and human league to look at synths, which up to then had been used mostly by experimental and progressive rock artists from tangerine dream to emerson, lake and palmer, and therefore considered evil inhuman bourgeois and square. they even featured square waves. i believe in the long run this development led to new wave and 80s pop.
giorgio moroder & donna summer - i feel love was the first worldwide computer disco hit. even before the invention of MIDI giorgio managed to connect a whole set of synthesizers together and make them produce a bombastic synth bass line. he did have some problems with latency, which he turned into a virtue: he made secondary sounds play slightly after the main sound creating an impression of slap back echo. this song shocked everyone who thought disco would just go on forever, and music would always be made by humans playing instruments. it was probably after that, that the "disco sux" movement got a significant following. or maybe because bee gees came up with night fever ;^)
chic - le freak marks a turning point for seventies disco. it is considered revolutionary in its clarity of sound and arrangement. suddenly everyone in music who didn't dare to enter the arena of disco starts experimenting with it, like rod stewart with do you think i'm sexy, hard rockers kiss with i was made for lovin' you and punk rockers blondie who came up with heart of glass. also future 80s acts like wham! or spandau ballet started out with experiments in disco. chic's follow-up single good times soon got massively abused for early rap music, as it was called back then. but first there was...
sugar hill gang - rapper's delight, the first rap song to rock the earth, although the group members had acted as bouncers at the venues where grandmaster flash was rapping and doing his revolutionary scratching.
"M" - pop muzik and atypical tracks like cliff richard's we don't talk anymore, christopher cross' arthur's theme, buggles' video killed the radio star, supertramp's logical song and robert palmer's johnny and mary probably introduced the new sound of 80s pop music. more synths, less rock'n'roll.
queen - another one bites the dust was somewhat revolutionary as well, as it had this chic feel and yet was unusually airy. queen actually produced it that way by mistake, because its writer john deacon got the harmonization wrong, so the piano chords kept sounding strange. they decided to leave the track without strings or pianos, making it deliberately sound very mechanical and dehumanized. soon more mainstream pop and rock artists followed up with disco hits like david bowie's programmatic let's dance which pretty much terminated the disco movement and evaporated it into the general sound of early 80s pop and dance music.
bob marley - could you be loved actually comes with an 80s pop beat, and yet it introduced reggae music to the worldwide public. culture club followed up with do you really want to hurt me and later came UB40.
visage - fade to grey was probably the first really big new wave hit, together with kim wilde - kids in america, and soft cell - tainted love. even urgent from foreigner was an unusual sound for a rock band. so was it's my party by barbara gaskin & dave stewart who would later form eurythmics with annie lennox.
ultravox - vienna was an especially revolutionary track since it wasn't suited for dancing at all. it lived and breathed the new sound of synthetic drums and atmospheres and just kept it that way. similar songs of success were OMD - maid of orleans and (much later) depeche mode's blasphemous rumours.
rheingold - dreiklangdimensionen marks the birth of the neue deutsche welle, the german chapter of new wave soon followed by successes from trio, spider murphy gang, falco, nena, hubert kah and spliff.
adam and the ants - stand and deliver marks the birth of the new romantic movement.
no revolutions, just excellent 80s pop
rock steady crew - hey you make their breakdance breakthrough in the middle of 80s pop high noon, accompanied by ollie & jerry's ain't no stoppin' us and herbie hancock - rockit who was coming from jazz. straight from punk instead came malcolm mclaren with buffalo gals and hey dj while his former sex pistols colleague john lydon had a hit with this is not a love song. argueably the only ever mainstream success of a "no wave" song, the late 70s postpunk movement of underground new york city.
van halen - jump provided the beat for a new dancing style that the pointer sisters tried to name neutron dance, others just called it pogo. it actually came from the british punk scene and merged into ska, resulting in tracks like madness' one step beyond. but with songs like pat benatars love is a battlefield, kenny loggins footloose or prince's let's go crazy it arrived at the mainstream top of the 80s.
billy idol - eyes without a face features a hard rock intermezzo with billy rapping on top - this could have inspired bands like faith no more and the red hot chili peppers to explore that territory further in subsequent years.
yes - owner of a lonely heart was the first song to use orchestral hit samples. back then it really knocked you out to hear something like that. duran duran later came up with a view to a kill which used that type of sound so excessively i had to laugh when i first heard it. since then pretty much no one makes much use of that sound element anymore.
frankie goes to hollywood - relax was the genre-defining track for HiNRG (high energy), even if there had been similarly energetic electronic music in the gay clubbing scene before. some people would trace the genre back to cowley, cerrone, telex and ultimately "i feel love" mentioned above, but trevor horn really introduced a different twist with those rhythmic synth stabs that were immediately hijacked for evelyn thomas - high energy. little else happened on the HiNRG front that year, as if everyone was waiting for trevor horn's next move. but FGTH essentially killed off HiNRG.
frankie goes to hollywood - two tribes was nothing anyone had ever heard before. this song introduced the use of heavy computer sequencing, especially in the bass line, and chords just layered on top of that. this sound was incredible and marked the sound of the late 80s and follow-up developments like acid and techno. the only thing it kept from HiNRG was the four-on-the-floor kick drum pattern that had been out of fashion since disco. i was surprised to find out that the man who produced this stuff, trevor horn, had already impressed me with "owner of a lonely heart", "video killed the radio star" and would soon do so again, with steve lipson in..
grace jones - slave to the rhythm had an unusual hip shuffly beat for 80s electronic productions. it anticipated the hip grooves of the late 80s which influenced several 90s music directions, a decade all about hip grooves, except for some straight techno. one other song comes to my mind which also had such a beat: the even earlier howard jones track what is love? i think that was in 1983. in the meantime HiNRG restarted with hits like dead or alive - you spin me round leading to the dominance of the stock-aitken-waterman factory, producing acts such as rick astley and bananarama's venus. by that time the club scene was already exploring house.
which one was the first house hit to leak into mainstream? was it inner city?
for a short moment a particular variant of house made the scene, with hits such as deep en vogue by malcolm mclaren. madonna killed the brand new trend with its own vogue hit which brought the whole culture to the mainstream and made it look like she had invented it.

nirvana - smells like teen spirit in september 1991. just as guitars were dead, this band comes along and throws all rules of classic music theory into the air. let's just pick weird major chords. never mind the key. let's play them all wrong and sing something catchy on top of it. needless to say, this was the most impressive innovation of the 90s. brilliant.

techno hip hop acid jazz jesus so much more to write.. TODO TODO!!

miss kittin and the hacker define the future sound of electroclash. a female voice speaking about sex, drugs and decadence on top of electro beats, bass lines and pleasant chords.
les rythmes digitales are every deejay's hot new record. from electro house over synth pop to early 80s style dance music. the year after, the man behind it releases with zoot woman a late 70s early 80s inspired pop rock group - with a naughtier edge than back then. and everyone talks about it's automatic.
tok tok & miss soffy o are berlin's hot new wave act.
tiga & zyntherius - sunglasses at night introduce the return of the new wave sound as the first worldwide hit in this genre, and fischerspooner had emerge'd with the sound of electroclash beforehand.
tomcraft makes it to the top of the british pop charts with his new wave techno track loneliness. soon followed by goldfrapp's train and danii minogue's version of jca's begin to wonder later on bastardised with dead or alive's you spin me 'round.

i found a very interesting history of dance music on a mexican website. history of HiNRG. it puts abba at the beginning of disco music, how unexpected, how interesting!

copyright 2002-2021 carlo von lynX