They said it would never last—back in the early ’80s, when synth-pop came in vogue, short-sighted detractors deemed it a fad and predicted it would have a short shelf life. Nearly four decades later, history has told a very different story: Not only were the original wave of synth-poppers succeeded by new generations of electronic artists, there are still plenty of old-schoolers still hanging on and plugging in, proving that you’re never too old for synth-pop.
Gary Numan was one of the first performers to bring synths to the fore in the post-punk era, and even as he edges toward sexagenarian status, he hasn’t compromised his musical vision one iota. When Depeche Mode started turning heads, they were callow youths with some upstart ideas. But as the elder statesmen of electronic pop today, they’ve become one of the most influential bands of their generation.
As the ‘80s marched on, the likes of Erasure (including former Depeche Mode man Vince Clarke) and Pet Shop Boys popped up, adding a more danceable feel to the synth-pop canon. Back then, nobody guessed that these groups would take their sound into the 2010s, but here we are.
However, you don’t have to be a superstar to stick around in the synth-pop realm. British duo Blancmange never really made it past cult-hero status back in the day, but that didn’t stop them from releasing a string of new albums starting in 2011. After he split from Ultravox at the end of the ‘70s, John Foxx took an innovative, and ultimately underground, path into electronic sounds, but his absence from the spotlight hasn’t hurt his artistic longevity one bit.
These are the synth-pop survivors—the artists who firmly planted their feet into new musical ground long ago and never let their electronic dreams die out.