Electropop is a musical genre which combines electronic music and pop music, with primary usage of synthesizers and various electronic and pop musical instruments. The genre has seen a revival of popularity and influence since the 1980s, all the way to the 2010s.


Electropop songs are electronic and pop songs at heart, often with simple, catchy hooks and simple dance beats, but differing from those of electronic dance music genres in that songwriting is emphasized over simple danceability.[2] Electropop is characterized by a distinctive low frequency synthesizers which might variously be described as crisp, crunchy, crackly, fuzzy, warm, distorted, dirty, or dry.[2]


Late 1970s to 1980s

Synthesizers such as this Prophet-5 are crucial for electropop instrumentation.

Electronic musical synthesizers that could be used practically in a recording studio became available in the mid-1960s, around the same time as rock music began to emerge as a distinct musical genre.[3] The Mellotron, an electro-mechanical, polyphonic sample-playback keyboard[4] was overtaken by the Moog synthesizer, created by Robert Moog in 1964, which produced completely electronically generated sounds.

The portable Mini-moog, which allowed much easier use, particularly in live performance[5] was widely adopted by progressive pop musicians such as Richard Wright of Pink Floyd and Rick Wakeman of Yes. Instrumental progressive pop was particularly significant in continental Europe, allowing bands like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Can and Faust to circumvent the language barrier.[6] Their synthesizer-heavy "Krautrock", along with the work of Brian Eno (for a time the keyboard player with Roxy Music), would be a major influence on subsequent synth rock.[7]

In 1971 the British movie A Clockwork Orange was released with a synth soundtrack by American Wendy Carlos. It was the first time many in the United Kingdom had heard electronic music.[8] Philip Oakey of the Human League and Richard H. Kirk of Cabaret Voltaire, as well as music journalist Simon Reynolds, have cited the soundtrack as an inspiration.[8] Electronic music made occasional moves into the mainstream, with jazz musician Stan Free, under the pseudonym Hot Butter, having a top 10 hit in the United States and United Kingdom in 1972, with a cover of the 1969 Gershon Kingsley song "Popcorn" using a Moog synthesizer, which is recognised as a forerunner to synthpop and disco.[9]

A black and white photograph of four members of Kraftwerk onstage, each with a synthesizer
Kraftwerk, one of the major influences on electropop, in 1976.

The mid-1970s saw the rise of electronic art musicians such as Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Tomita. Tomita's album Electric Samurai: Switched on Rock (1972) featured electronic renditions of contemporary pop songs, while utilizing speech synthesis and analog music sequencers.[10] Italy's Giorgio Moroder paired up with Donna Summer in 1977 to release the electro-disco song "I Feel Love", and its programmed beats would be a major influence on later dance and pop.[11] David Bowie's Berlin Trilogy, comprising the albums Low (1977), "Heroes" (1977) and Lodger (1979), all featuring Brian Eno, would also be highly influential.[12]

During the early 1980s, artists such as Gary Numan, the Human League, Soft Cell, John Foxx and Visage helped pioneer a new synthpop style that drew more heavily from electronic and synthesizer music,[13] while the electro style was largely developed by Afrika Bambaata, who was heavily influenced by Yellow Magic Orchestra and Kraftwerk and the 1980s pop music style of Madonna.[14]

21st century

Kesha is one of the most successful American electropop artists of the 2010s.
F(X) (top) and Shinee (bottom) are one of the most popular Korean electropop acts.

The media in 2009 ran articles proclaiming a new era of different electropop stars and indeed, saw a rise in popularity of several electropop artists. In the Sound of 2009 poll of 130 music experts conducted for the BBC, ten of the top fifteen artists named were of the electropop genre.[15] Lady Gaga had major commercial success since 2008 with her debut album The Fame.[16][17][18][19][20] Music writer Simon Reynolds noted that "Everything about Gaga came from electroclash, except the music, which wasn't particularly 1980s".[21] The second album by British singer Lily Allen released in 2009 called It's Not Me, It's You is largely electropop as opposed to her first ska album.[22][23] Other female electropop acts that emerged were Ladyhawke,[24] Kesha,[25] Demi Lovato,[26] Britney Spears,[27][28][29][30][31] Selena Gomez,[32] Elly Jackson of La Roux [24] and Perfume.[33] The Korean pop music scene has also become dominated and influenced by electropop, particularly with boy bands and girl groups such as Super Junior, SHINee, F(X) and Girls' Generation.[34]

"Tik Tok"
"Tik Tok" features the usage of Auto-Tune, with an accompanying video game music background sound.

Oh! by Girls' Generation, carries the electropop sound.

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Male acts that have emerged included British writer and producer Taio Cruz, who charted well in the U.S.,[35] along with one-man act Owl City, who had a U.S. number-one single,[36][37] DJ Kaskade,[38] and LMFAO.[39] Singer Michael Angelakos of the Passion Pit said in a 2009 interview that while playing electropop was not his intention, the limitations of dorm life made the genre more accessible.[40] Some artists have used music technology to convert songs from other genres into electropop; for example, Paul Duncan of Warm Ghost took a record by indie folk artists Mountain Man and turned it into an electropop song.[41]

In 2009, James Oldham—head of artists and repertoire at A&M Records—was quoted as saying "All A&R departments have been saying to managers and lawyers: 'Don't give us any more bands because we're not going to sign them and they're not going to sell records.' So everything we've been put on to is electronic in nature."[24][42]

See also


  1. "Spilling Beyond a Festival's Main Courses". The New York Times. 22 March 2010 via New York Times.
  2. 1 2 "Electropop music". Last.fm. 29 Jun 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  3. J. Stuessy & S. D. Lipscomb (2008), Rock and Roll: its History and Stylistic Development (6 ed.), London: Pearson Prentice Hall, p. 21, ISBN 0-13-601068-7
  4. R. Brice (2001), Music Engineering (2 ed.), Oxford: Newnes, pp. 108–9, ISBN 0-7506-5040-0
  5. T. Pinch & F. Trocco (2004), Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 214–36, ISBN 0-674-01617-3
  6. P. Bussy (2004), Kraftwerk: Man, Machine and Music (3 ed.), London: SAF, pp. 15–17, ISBN 0-946719-70-5
  7. R. Unterberger (2004), "Progressive rock", in V. Bogdanov; C. Woodstra; S. T. Erlewine, All Music Guide to Rock: the Definitive Guide to Rock, Pop, and Soul, Milwaukee, WI: Backbeat Books, pp. 1330–1, ISBN 0-87930-653-X
  8. 1 2 Synth Britannia, BBC Four, 2 August 2010
  9. B. Eder, "Hot Butter: Biography", Allmusic, archived from the original on 4 August 2011.
  10. M. Jenkins (2007), Analog Synthesizers: Understanding, Performing, Buying: from the Legacy of Moog to Software Synthesis, Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 133–4, ISBN 0-240-52072-6
  11. S. Borthwick & R. Moy (2004), Popular Music Genres: an Introduction, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 121–3, ISBN 0-7486-1745-0
  12. T. J. Seabrook (2008), Bowie in Berlin: A New Career in a New Town, Jawbone Press, ISBN 1-906002-08-8
  13. Reynolds 2005, pp. 296-308.
  14. David Toop (March 1996), "A-Z Of Electro", The Wire (145), retrieved 2011-05-29
  15. UK gaga for electro-pop, guitar bands fight back, The Kuwait Times, January 28, 2009
  16. "BBC NEWS - Entertainment - Number one single for Lady GaGa". bbc.co.uk.
  17. "BBC NEWS - Entertainment - Lady GaGa holds onto chart crown". bbc.co.uk.
  18. "Search - Billboard". billboard.com.
  19. "Login".
  20. Neil McCormick (21 January 2009). "Lady GaGa: pop meets art to just dance". Telegraph.co.uk.
  21. The 1980s revival that lasted an entire decade by Simon Reynolds for The Guardian 22 January 2010
  22. "Music - New Music News, Reviews, Pictures, and Videos". Rolling Stone.
  23. "Lily Allen". smh.com.au.
  24. 1 2 3 "Gaga for girl power". smh.com.au.
  25. "Login".
  26. "Demi Lovato Is Unveiling Something Big In 2015". People's Choice. Sidney Madden. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  27. "New Music: Britney Spears f/ will.i.am – 'Big Fat Bass'". Rap-Up. Devin Lazerine. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  28. "'Hold It Against Me' Is Primo Britney". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  29. Marikar, Sheila. "Britney Spears Drops 'Till the World Ends,' Mimics Ke$ha". ABC News. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  30. Lipshutz, Jason. "Britney Spears, Till the World Ends". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  31. Ganz, Caryn. "Spears at her most daring and innovative — really! Dark, dangerous, fascinating.". eMusic. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  32. News Desk More News Desk. "Concert Review: Selena Gomez & the Scene, Bell Centre, October 30". Montreal Gazette.
  33. "Perfumeが1位獲得!YMO以来約25年ぶりの快挙" (in Japanese). Oricon. 2008-04-22. Retrieved 2009-10-17.
  34. Mullins, Michelle (15 January 2012). "K-pop splashes into the west". The Purdue University Calumet Chronicle. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  35. "Taio Cruzes Up The U.S Chart!". MTV UK.
  36. Maybe I'm Dreaming: Owl City Access date: July 9, 2009.
  37. "BBC News - Pop's space cadets set to blast off". bbc.co.uk.
  38. Jen Woo (29 June 2010). "Electric Daisy Carnival at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum". independent.com.
  39. "Party just beginning for electro-pop duo LMFAO". Reuters.
  40. Interview: Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit Boston Phoenix October 1, 2009
  41. Erick Sermon (March 2011). "Warm Ghost – Uncut Diamond EP -- Partisan Records: 2011". Music Nerdery. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  42. Neil McCormick (5 August 2009). "La Roux, Lady Gaga, Mika, Little Boots: the 80s are back". Telegraph.co.uk.


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