Monday, November 2, 2020

Musical Monday - Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by Eurythmics


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: The week of September 3, 1983.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: September 3, 1983 through September 10, 1983.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

This song is where synthesizer music crashed into the pop world. There had been techno pop hits before this, but none had topped the charts, none launched a figure to as much pop cultural dominance as this song did with Annie Lennox.

Literally everything about this song and this video was a metaphorical punch to the face of pop music. From the very first beat through to the very end, this song basically said to people who had grown up with pop rock from the 1970s "we aren't doing this the same way any more". There aren't any actual instruments being played on this track - it is entirely a synthesizer-generated song with the exception of Lennox's vocals. Layered on top of a driving bass line, Lennox's vocals are what really set this apart, soaring high above everything else in the song.

The video is just as in your face about its difference from the past. Lennox appears with a buzz cut, dyed orange, coupled with a business suit for a look that is simultaneously androgynous and incredibly sexy. Dave Stewart isn't even shown playing a keyboard or anything else that might be constructed as a "normal" piece of musical equipment. Instead, he taps on an MCS drum computer keyboard, almost daring the audience to try to figure out how his tapping links up with the music they are hearing. The only tiny concession to "music" in the video is the repeated showing of a cello, but the cello doesn't seem to actually have been used to create the string sounds in the song - apparently that was an Oberheim OB-X synthesizer.

It is hard to say exactly when "the 1980s" really arrived. The pop cultural zeitgeist of a decade always comes a few years after the calendar rolls over to a new tens digit, but the moment represented by this song is a strong candidate for when the 1980s swept away the last vestiges of the 1970s.

Previous Musical Monday: Red Red Wine by UB40
Subsequent Musical Monday: Maniac by Michael Sembello

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Every Breath You Take by the Police
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Maniac by Michael Sembello

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Every Breath You Take by the Police
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Puttin' On the Ritz by Taco

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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