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100 Best Synth Pop Bands

I have been an online writer for over six years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

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Although the use of synthesizers became prominent with progressive bands, electronic bands, and disco acts of the ‘70s, the synthpop sound got its distinctive identity in the ‘80s as the New Wave movement transformed the musical landscape in pop music. The synthesizer-driven sounds augmented with lush textural vocals and dance beats give this genre unique identity. Although synthpop musicians have been criticized for having limited musical skills and relying heavily on technology and production techniques to create music, the genre is immensely popular with teens.

The list below showcases an epic collection of synthpop bands from different decades. If you have a view, opinion, or band suggestion, let us know in the comments section.

Top 10 Best Synth Pop Bands

  1. Depeche Mode
  2. Kraftwerk
  3. Pet Shop Boys
  4. A-ha
  5. Erasure
  6. The Human League
  7. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
  8. Duran Duran
  9. Eurythmics
  10. New Order

What Is Synthpop?

A subgenre of New Wave music, synthpop is a musical style that features prominent use of synthesizers. The characteristic sound that gives this genre its distinguished identity is the primary use of sequencers, drum machines, vocoders, and synthesizers. The rhythm structure is defined by synthetic sound textures that have a robotic dance beat. Different styles of music are woven polyphonically to reproduce the desired sound with compressed production.

A number of electronic art bands and artists that emerged through the art pop movement started experimenting with polyphonic synthesizers and MIDI to create hypnotic groove-oriented rhythms for dance. This sonic experimentation paved the way for different styles in synthpop. Often, sparse arrangements and repetitive rhythms are associated with different acts in this genre. Although, sometimes, the term “electropop” is used interchangeably with synthpop, the former emphasizes on a harder electronic sound.

#11—20

11. Ultravox

12. Soft Cell

13. Owl City

14. Chvrches

15. Alphaville

16. La Roux

17. Bronski Beat

18. Goldfrapp

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19. Visage

20. Devo

best-synth-pop-bands

Synthpop in the ‘70s

The Mellotron, an electro-mechanical musical instrument which was used by progressive rock musicians in the ‘60s, declined in popularity as the sound of Moog synthesizer came into prominence. By the early ‘70s a number of art pop bands and progressive rock bands adopted the sounds of the Minimoog, a portable version of the Moog synthesizer that was easy to use during live performances. As art rock, space rock, and prog rock became widespread in Europe, the diverse Krautrock movement developed in Germany giving rise to bands and artists that created an experimental blend of sounds that merged electronic music with psychedelic rock, free jazz, and avant-garde.

Bands such as Kraftwerk, Neu!, and Tangerine Dream played a pivotal role in shaping and influencing different styles in synth-rock and synth pop. The work of Brian Eno had a major influence on musicians associated with ambient and heavy synth-based formats. A number of electronic art bands and artists came to the forefront with their eclectic brand of synth-heavy music. The Electro-disco genre became hugely popular in mainstream pop in the ‘70s. The programmed beats used by musicians in this genre, had a profound influence on synth-pop acts in subsequent decades.

#21—40

21. Yazoo

22. Propaganda

23. Thompson Twins

24. Ladytron

25. M83

26. Art of Noise

27. Frankie Goes to Hollywood

28. Yellow Magic Orchestra

29. Icona Pop

30. The Communards

31. Suicide

32. Talk Talk

33. Future Islands

34. Chromatics

35. Tubeway Army

36. Cut Copy

37. A Flock of Seagulls

38. Tears for Fears

39. Spandau Ballet

40. Heaven 17

Synthpop in the ‘80s

A number of bands and artists associated with the genre had tremendous mainstream success in the ‘80s. The music in this decade was dominated by the sounds of synthesizers. Musicians from different genres adopted MIDI technologies and digital audio which made the entire process of creating electronic sound much easier. The New Romantic movement that developed in London paved the way for a number of synth artists of the ‘80s. A number of British synthpop artists that became immensely popular in the US due to heavy rotation of their music on cable music channel MTV and on radio stations started being identified as the Second British Invasion.

New wave and synthpop structures fused with mellow pop and rock sounds became popular with a number of acts in the ‘80s. A number of bands and solo artists with a hippy-happy dance-friendly sound of synthesizers infused in their songs had a great deal of success on music charts. Programmed beats and synth sounds with texturally-smooth vocal melodies became the signature identity of many dance acts in the decade. Slickly-crafted synthpop became a rage with teens all over the world. Indeed, synth-pop in the ‘80s was one of the most significant awakenings in music history.

#41—60

41. Men Without Hats

42. The Buggles

43. Modern Talking

44. Hurts

45. Passion Pit

46. Berlin

47. Hot Chip

48. Anything Box

49. ABC

50. Dead or Alive

51. The Knife

52. Animotion

53. Empire of the Sun

54. Royksopp

55. Neon Indian

56. Crystal Castles

57. The Naked and Famous

58. Information Society

59. The Postal Service

60. Blancmange

best-synth-pop-bands

Decline of Synthpop in the ‘90s

With the dawn of the ‘90s, guitar-driven music came to the forefront. As alternative music dominated the scene, a number of synth acts found it had to sustain the grunge backlash. As alternative and grunge grew in popularity, radio stations started favoring bands from these genres over synth pop. While the musical careers of many synth bands ended in the ‘90s, certain bands associated with synth-based music continued with their success by changing their musical direction.

These bands added electronic dance elements with indie landscapes to create a unique blend of dance rock that had significant mainstream success on dance charts, especially in the US. While record sales of major synth pop bands of the ‘80s dwindled in the ‘90s, some bands did find success with their singles. A number of British new wave duos and synth duos that transitioned to dance music had phenomenal mainstream success globally.

#61—80

61. The Fallout Club

62. f(x)

63. When in Rome

64. Tegan and Sara

65. AlunaGeorge

66. Bastille

67. Red Flag

68. Capital Cities

69. Perfume

70. Feathers

71. China Crisis

72. Kon Kan

73. Chromeo

74. Icehouse

75. Gina X Performance

76. Exotic Birds

77. Pvris

78. Donkeyboy

79. Scritti Politti

80. Chairlift

Revival of Synthpop Post 2000

As new digital technologies developed in the 2000s, indietronica started taking shape. Musicians in this format started experimenting with electronic sounds and indie sounds using synthesizers, drum machines, samplers, and computer programs. A great number of bands and artists associated with indietronica produced and released their music independently. Alongside indietronica, the electroclash movement began to gain momentum. Bands in this style of music combined diverse styles of punk, synth-pop, and techno with performance art. The renewed interest of musicians in electronic music and new wave sounds of the ‘80s led to the revival of synth pop music.

A number of bands and artists post 2000 started incorporating vintage synth sounds in their diverse repertoire of musical styles. Post 2010, a number of solo artists had breakthrough success with their brand of electropop and dance-pop music. A number of female synth-pop acts incorporating a broad spectrum of EDM sounds in their songs had a great deal of success on international music charts. Post 2020, songs with synthpop embellishments has become the dance flavor at party hotspots and nightclubs. While synth pop has evolved in every decade in accordance with changing musical trends, one thing’s for sure, the genre will emerge even bigger in the days ahead.

#81—100

81. Purity Ring

82. The Magnetic Fields

83. Fenech-Soler

84. Nation of Language

85. Saint Etienne

86. The Hundred in the Hands

87. Dubstar

88. Years & Years

89. Phoenix

90. Freezepop

91. Hyperbubble

92. Mirrors

93. The Presets

94. Client

95. Junior Boys

96. Polica

97. Metro Station

98. Real Life

99. Iris

100. Landscape

Other Notable Synth Pop Bands

  • Camouflage
  • Sparks
  • Naked Eyes
  • Kajagoogoo
  • Japan
  • Book of Love
  • Austra
  • Freur
  • The Assembly
  • Trans-X
  • Miami Horror
  • Swiss Lips
  • Desire
  • Dalek I Love You
  • Ou Est le Swimming Pool
  • Adolphson-Falk
  • Celebrate the Nun
  • I Am the World Trade Center
  • Bear in Heaven
  • Elegant Machinery
  • Au Revoir Simone
  • Dragonette
  • Psyche
  • Iamamiwhoami
  • Niki & the Dove
  • Glass Candy
  • The Tough Alliance
  • Melotron
  • Yelle
  • Sally Shapiro
  • Chicks on Speed
  • Telex
  • Onetwo
  • Grafton Primary
  • Vive la Fete
  • Yello
  • Monarchy
  • Little Dragon
  • The Teenagers
  • Parralox
  • Koto
  • B-Movie
  • Crumbacher
  • Midnight Juggernauts
  • Adult
  • Kate Boy
  • Fan Death
  • NYPC
  • Space
  • Night Club
  • Cause And Effect
  • Mannequin Depressives
  • Shiny Toy Guns
  • Ayria
  • C.C.C.P.
  • LANY
  • Robots in Disguise
  • Great Good Fine Ok
  • Beborn Beton
  • TR/ST
  • I Don’t Know How But They Found Me
  • Kissing the Pink
  • Shy Child
  • Niagara
  • Wolfsheim
  • M
  • The Sound of Arrows
  • Pseudo Echo
  • Casiokids
  • Kero Kero Bonito
  • Silicon Teens
  • Vitamin Z
  • NZCA Lines
  • Mecano
  • TM Network
  • Azul y Negro
  • Rational Youth
  • Indochine
  • Our Daughter’s Wedding
  • Holy Ghost!
  • NASA
  • The Black Queen
  • Young Ejecta
  • Chew Lips
  • Kazaky
  • Plastics
  • Say Lou Lou
  • Buscabulla
  • Porches
  • Marsheaux
  • De/Vision
  • Moenia
  • Class Actress
  • Tesla Boy
  • The Golden Filter
  • Eleventyseven
  • Wet
  • Parallels
  • Laid Back
  • Magdalena Bay
  • And One
  • The Quick
  • NamNamBulu
  • Choir Boy
  • Re-Flex
  • MIA.
  • Light Asylum
  • Sohodolls
  • Ulver
  • Zeigeist
  • Kids of 88
  • Molchat Doma
  • Dance House Children
  • Capsule
  • Miike Snow
  • Ien Obique
  • Tim & Jean
  • Let’s Eat Grandma
  • Seona Dancing
  • New Musik
  • Bonanza Banzai
  • Joy Electric
  • Lali Puna

© 2021 Ansel Pereira

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