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Chapter 140: Relax

80s synth pop from around the world

At the height of synth pop’s dominance, the synthesizers themselves were quite limited by today’s standards; bands big and small were using the same Yamaha and Roland preset sound palettes. It’s especially noticeable on international synth pop hits of the period - suddenly, all these bands with wildly divergent backgrounds were playing with the same toys. South Africa’s Xalam pulls off the inverse “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” melding a stunning imitation MJ beat to African melodies, and Ariel Pink would kill for the kitschy warmth of “Disco Deewane.”
1. Nena

99 Luftballons

2. Xalam


3. Étienne Daho

Week-end à Rome

4. Olivia Newton-John


5. Nazia Hassan

Disco Deewane

6. Frankie Goes To Hollywood


7. Herbert Grönemeyer


8. Madonna


9. Luis Miguel

Ahora Te Puedes Marchar

10. Soft Cell

Tainted Love / Where Did Our Love Go