‘Take my hand, come back to the land …’: if you recognize this lyric line, then you are perfectly right here. I want to take you back to the 80s in order to explore lost and forgotten Synth Pop treasures. You might think you know all the great 80s Synth Pop hits. And when you’re on an 80s party in your favourite club, dancing with memories of the past to the tunes you loved since so many years now. But believe me, time is a gruesome companion and it already erased some great songs in your mind!
My path of rediscovery led me through the deepest depths of the internet and also of my mind. I guess I can say that my expedition was quite successful. It was a musical travel through a decade without internet and a lot of bands were only famous in a small local area – so I went to find them.
Everytime I found a forgotten song or recalled a song inspired by listening to another song, it almost felt like a ‘Platinum’ achievement to me. If you go though this non sorted list, I’m pretty sure that you will also have this feeling: “Oh, right! I loved this track when I was small/young/a teen… How could I forget?“.
The ‘flux capacitor’ is set and the engines are running! Start your time travel to the musical past here and now.
1. Red Flag – Russian Radio (1988)
The band ‘Red Flag‘ is founded by the brothers Chris and Mark Reynolds from San Diego (USA). Originally they are from Liverpool (England) and started already in 1984 under the band name ‘Shades Of May‘ (until 1985). Afterwards they called themselfs ‘Naïve Art‘ (until mid 1988). ‘Naïve Art’ is also the name of the debut by ‘Red Flag’ released in 1989. ‘Russian Radio’ was an awesome hit in the Synth Pop scene and ranked on position #11 in the U.S. Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play charts.
The song ‘Russian Radio’ appears on their debut album ‘Naïve Art’, among with the singles ‘Broken Heart’ and ‘If I Ever’.
2. John Foxx – Underpass (1980)
Of course ‘John Foxx‘ isn’t a truly unkown in the scene. Before he started his solo career with the uber-hit ‘Underpass’ he was lead singer of ‘Ultravox‘. But he left the band in 1979 to focus on his own musical ideas. In only 5 years he produced 5 albums on the major label Virgin before he withdrew from music completely in 1985 and concentrated on visual work.
The song ‘Underpass’ appeared on his debut album ‘Metamatic’. I strongly recommend this Synth Pop classic for your collection!
The music video ‘Misery’ by ‘Psyche‘ was filmed in Hannover, Germany 1989 featuring Darrin Huss and David Kristian. ‘Psyche’ is one of the most underrated Synth Pop bands of the 80s. They started very early to mix Synth Pop sounds with Darkwave and EBM. With this formula they created a unique music style that still works today.
The song ‘Misery’ was published on their album ‘The Influence’ in 1989.
‘Steve Strange’ is the main founder and lead singer of ‘Visage‘ and got famous through the club classic ‘Fade To Grey‘. ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’ was also a very successful track in 1982, but never got the same attention like ‘Fade To Grey’. Unfortunately Steve Strange died much too young in the consequence of a heart attack in February 12th, 2015.
The song ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’ was released on their album ‘The Anvil’ (1982).
Scott Wilk’s short lived electro-new wave band ‘Bone Symphony‘: imagine ‘Oingo Boingo’ meets ‘Soft Cell’ and then cross pollinate it with ‘Shriekback’. He went on to score ‘Valley Girl’ and ‘Duckman’. If you like this song, I´m pretty sorry – you can’t buy it anywhere!
The song ‘It’s A Jungle Out There’ appeared on their album ‘Bone Symphony’ (1983).
6. Robert Marlow – The Face of Dorian Gray (1983)
Maybe some ‘Depeche Mode‘ fans already heard about ‘Robert Marlow‘. He was born in Basildon and grew up with Vince Clarke, Martin Gore, and Andrew Fletcher. He also was former/involved in bands like ‘The Vandals’ (along with Alison Moyet), ‘The Plan’ (with Vince Clarke) and ‘French Look’ (with Martin Gore and Paul Redmond).
Robert Marlow didn’t release his debut album, which he produced with his friend Vince Clarke ‘The Peter Pan Effect’ until 1999, when the Swedish record company ‘Energy Rekords’ picked it up and released it.
The song ‘The Face of Dorian Gray’ from the album ‘The Peter Pan Effect’ (1999), originally intended for release in 1984.
I can not hold back this great song including a fantastic live show: ‘The MegaMen‘ performing “Designed for Living” on the Bandaged Bear Telethon, Brisbane 1983. Unfortunately, I do not really have any more information about this artist. I could neither find official pages to the band, nor discographies in the corresponding archives. So all that remains is this video. Should you have any useful information about ‘The MegaMen’, please write us below in the comments.
8. Hard Corps – Je Suis Passee (1985)
Official music video ‘Je Suis Passee’ by ‘Hard Corps‘ taken from the album ‘Metal & Flesh’. They are a 1980s band from Brixton, London playing Electronic Body Music (EBM) and Synth Pop.
The song ‘Je Suis Passee’ can be found on their album ‘Metal & Flesh’. The album was released 5 years after the single ‘Je Suis Passee’. In the meantime ‘Hard Corps’ realeased a couple of other singles on different labels.
‘Art Fact‘ is a Swedish band that was only locally known in their home town and the surrounding area. This year they released a remastered album called ‘Closure‘ that I reviewed earlier this year. Previously, a few members of ‘Art Fact’ formed a new band called ‘Sine City‘. Electrozombies will keep an eye on this!
The song ‘Man In Armor’ was published on the album ‘Closure’ along with brand new recordings of old ‘Art Fact’ songs. I guess you can only get this awesome album as a digital version (unless you are willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money), because there is only a limited edition version of 250 numbered copies on the market.
Surprised seeing ‘The Cure‘ on this list? Well, you don’t have to worry, because in their long-time career they also produced some super catchy Synth Pop songs. ‘The Walk’ is one of these great productions and would fit perfectly for an 80s Synth Pop party.
The song ‘The Walk’ is from the mini-album ‘The Walk’. This one was only released as vinyl and cassette. But you can also find this track on the ‘Greatest Hits’ album that I linked here.
‘Kon Kan‘ is a canadian Synth Pop group founded by Barry Harris and Kevin Wynne. Wikipedia says: “‘I Beg Your Pardon’ was inspired in part by both the ‘Pet Shop Boys’ hit single ‘Always on My Mind’ and an increasingly prevalent use of sampling by artists such as ‘Public Enemy’, ‘M/A/R/R/S’ and ‘Coldcut’. The track sampled Lynn Anderson’s 1971 hit ‘(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden’.”.
I can still remember this great tune. In 1988 the song reached position #8 in the german charts. And please pay close attention to this perfectly typical 80s cover artwork.
The song ‘I Beg Your Pardon’ is taken from the album ‘Move To Move’.
The band ‘Berlin‘ became super famous for their theme song ‘Take My Breath Away’ in the Hollywood movie ‘Top Gun’ in 1986. But what most people don´t know: they´ve had a great underground Synth Pop career long before! This New Wave act from Orange County, California was already founded in 1978 by John Crawford, Jo Julian and Terri Nunn. They had a 10 year break (1987-1997), but there are still active until today.
The song ‘The Metro’ comes from the album ‘Pleasure Victim’. The hit ‘Sex (I’m A …)’ is also included.
13. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Electricity (1980)
The band ‘OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark)‘ are true Synth Pop legends. With changing cast, except Andy McCluskey, the band has already been over 30 years in business. But what does a DJ play on an 80s party, if he wants to do ‘OMD’ at its best? Exactly – if the DJ doesn’t play ‘Maid Of Orleans’, then it will surely be ‘Enola Gay’. Of course these are good songs, but for me ‘Electricity’ is the most underrated hit of ‘OMD’.
The song ‘Electricity’ was published on the self-titled album ‘Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’.
This is a super forgotten track. When I listened to it -- after nearly 30 years now – I hardly remembered that I knew the tune at all. In general it’s a really simple and typical euro pop song of the 80s, but when it was played on the radio I was about 12 years old and I liked it as far as I remember.
The song ‘Touch In The Night’ appeared on the album ‘No.1’. The album title could be understood as the first record of the band or else their goal to reach the first position in the charts. Unfortunately they never made it to No.1. The highest entry was position #28 in Switzerland.
Before ‘Gary Numan‘ started to publish albums under his own name he was singer of the band ‘Tubeway Army‘. They created milestones in music and among this the catchy track ‘Are Friends Electric?’. After releasing the albums ‘Tubeway Army’ and ‘Replicas’, Numan decided for a solo career – but still took his musicians with him.
The song ‘Are Friends Electric?’ is taken from the album ‘Replicas’. Definitely a must-have in everybody’s Synth Pop collection.
16. The Human League – (Keep Feeling) Fascination (1983)
‘The Human League‘ is a classic Synth Pop group and widely known for their great hits ‘Don’t You Want Me’ and ‘Human’. Furthermore they also had this smash hit ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’ that unfortunately never will be played on 80s parties nowadays. I loved this song when it was released and I still do now. The music video is also awesome and sooooo 80s!
The song ‘(Keep Feeling) Fascination’ was published on the EP ‘Fascination!’.
The super famous song ‘Dr. Mabuse’ was a huge hit in 1984 and was played in almost all clubs at the time. And even today this is a track that definitely needs to be played on a real 80s Synth Pop party! Personally I like the more underrated, but catchier song ‘p: Machinery‘. This one is a lost jewel, and I kept on listening to it for a long, long time now.
The song ‘p: Machinery’ is taken from the album ‘A Secret Wish’. The iconic cover artwork must be familiar to the most Synth Pop fans. I have to admit that this record is not yet in my collection, but I’m sure that I will add it soon.
‘Kim Wilde‘ got famous for all her super catchy hits like ‘Kids In America‘, ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On‘, ‘You Came’ and also the ballad ‘Cambodia‘ – so many awesome tracks that are timeless and sound also great today. These tracks are being played anytime and everywhere: on regular radio broadcasts, parties and even weddings. But most people forget one of the first songs from ‘Kim Wilde’. I can remember that I first watched the music video ‘Chequered Love’ on my grand parents’ TV during the show ‘Formel Eins’ (a music video show in Germany). This one is among all the other ‘Kim Wilde’ classics a masterpiece.
The song ‘Chequered Love’ was released on the self-titled debut album ‘Kim Wilde’.
‘Fad Gadget‘ is also among the most underrated Synth Pop artists of the early 80s. I personally know that this band exisst, but honestly I never really listend to their stuff. While I did the reseach for this article I found that cool track I´ve never heard before. A brilliant song! I guess I have some homework to do and check up on the albums by ‘Fad Gadget’. Unfortunately he died much too young (45y) after a heart attack in his home.
The song ‘Collapsing New People’ comes from the album ‘Gag’.
The last band in this article is called ‘Fotostat‘. This performance of their single, “Brave New World” was recorded on UK TV in late 1982. Unfortunely my research for this single or an album ended fruitless. I can’t tell you much about this song or the artist. Just watch an enjoy a forgotten piece of the past. If you know something about the band or have some music from them, just let me know.
Enjoy the whole playlist on Spotify
The whole playlist is also available on the official ‘Electrozombies TV’ YouTube channel. Subscribe and watch now!
We hope you had a joyful ride through the past with this almost lost and forgotten Synth Pop highlights. Maybe you got the same feelings that we had like ‘Oh right, I remember this song – it was SO great’, ‘I would like to hear this on the next 80s party’ or ‘I never heard about this one, but surely I will check out now’.
If you were inspired by this article and remembered some rare, lost and/or forgotten songs, let us know and use comment section below!