I said early on that I listen to a wide variety of music. In that context, it’s hard to come up with something that would surprise people. My collection includes records that go all the way back to the 1940s and 1950s. It includes rock, pop, country, folk, soul, psychedelia, hard rock, and the hundreds of sub-genres that popular music has developed into today. There isn’t a lot of hip-hop or urban music on my shelves, which may or may not be surprising. I guess they just don’t work for me.
There is one group that comes to mind for this challenge. One day I picked up a buddy on my way to a hockey game, and I had Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love” playing on the stereo. He was surprised that I was listening to 1981’s Computer World album while just cruising around town in the 21st century. Kraftwerk sometimes get misunderstood as a metronomic, electronic group with computer-generated melodies. I think the genius of Kraftwerk is that the melodies aren’t robotic, they’re pure and evocative and definitely human. There’s an uncluttered precision to the melody and the rhythm, sure, but the songs are far more emotional than something that a computer could ever automatically generate. I think simplicity is elegant, and there’s something very calming about the structure and order in “Computer Love”, as though everything is exactly in its right place.
I like this song so much, it’s my iPhone’s ringtune 🙂
Kraftwerk maintain a very cool, very robotic demeanour on stage. The spectacle comes from the visual graphics and the musical presentation, not from wild haircuts or extravagant clothes or out-sized personalities. Maybe this contributes to their music being misunderstood. I haven’t met many (any?) other Kraftwerk fans, but their influence can be heard on musicians across many genres over the last 30 years.
When Coldplay’s X&Y album came out and I heard “Talk” for the first time, I had to crack open the liner notes. I was glad to see Kraftwerk get credited, since this song so obviously borrows from “Computer Love”. I read later that Chris Martin actually wrote to Ralf & Florian to get Kraftwerk’s permission to nick their melody, so I guess that’s cool. But it just goes to show that a great melody is timeless and, by connecting with people across different generations, distinctly human.