Sad Synth Sundays

I present to you 3 of my favourite synth-pop pickings for your emotional indulgence. 

 

Depeche Mode – Blasphemous Rumours

The Kings of synth are the Essex boys who England forgot.

Back in 2011, an old friend studied Art at St Martins. She despised it for reasons that made me smile on the sly…such as the fact a budding artist displayed a painting of her own vagina for no reason other than ‘artistic licence’. Amazing.

In her defence, the only point of pretention my friend had to her name was a fondness for Depeche Mode.

One afternoon, the St Martins undergrads’ were tasked with commemorating the victims of the recent Japanese tsunami. Most people chose to draw the monster that claimed the lives of the innocent, but in my friend’s eyes there was no more fitting tribute than a blank piece of card containing these lyrics, hand-written. Its’ simplicity made it the most poignant response of them all… and arguably just as pretentious. We all have a shadow side, I suppose.

Professional optimist Martin Gore’s chorus is compromised of cheery refrains almost certainly lifted from a 14 year old’s diary:

“I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumours but I think that God’s got a sick sense of humour, and when I die, I expect to find him laughing.” 

But it’s the synth that really wraps it all together. Depeche Mode are all shadow and no sunshine in their lyrics but that mid-80s synth sound could strike a chord of pure euphoria in even the most disaffected of souls.

It’s magical what a few misfit musos can do with the right technology.

Robert Palmer – Johnny and Mary

Formulated to give your goosebumps, released in 1980 and just shy of 4 minutes long, everything about Johnny And Mary is lovable.

If and when I hear the intro’ on the radio, my ears prick up: tune into the right station and yours will too. It’s haunting tune grabs you and holds you – there – in the present moment. Who needs meditation, anyway?

If the melody wasn’t enough, its’ third person story-telling grants you a few minutes of escapism into a 20th century reality where very few people felt liberated enough to explore their emotions, and even fewer were able to leave unhappy domestic situations. Like your parents, perhaps? (I’m just giving out ideas to connect with).

On the other hand, its’ narrative of feeling disenfranchised from the very things you are supposed to glean enjoyment from is universal. And the music will make you feel it.

Very little pleases me more than gratuitous music videos, and the interpretative dance on display is the perfect accompaniment to the big theme of despondency.

INXS – Don’t Change

 

I can’t help but feel this cloying tune played while John Hughes sat down to construct another coming-of-age classic.

Feast your peepers on a (very) young Michael Hutchence with all the swagger of Mick Jagger. He quite literally affects his movements to match Mick’s posturing in what must be the go-to experimentation of all new frontmen.

New to the airwaves at this time, its’ keyboard-led intro’ is reminiscent of the success New Wave bands were enjoying between ’79 to ’83 as mainstream music grew a lot more poppy past this point. And Hutchence grew a lot more hair.

The ethereal, introspective vibes must’ve clashed with the ‘rock’n’roll Aussies’ image too much for their A & R man’s liking, unfortunately. We know this because INXS veered away from this sound for the remainder of their career.

Profound synth sounds were the reserve of the New Romantics at this time in musical history so I feel privileged to be privy to this random rocky gem.

*slow fade in the minor key* 

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How To Care Less About What Other People Think Of You

I was tempted to click-bait the title with the alluring promise of ’How to stop caring about what people think of you’ but you can never conquer the curiosity entirely.

Of course, there are some who claim to never give thought to their reputation, social standing, likability etc… and those people are lying. Ironically, the intent is to manipulate you into seeing them as a badass mother’ because they seek to control how they’re perceived just as much as you do. Clever eh?

I have a few points to keep in mind for when you’re feeling low or unloved.

1. You have no way of ever truly knowing what someone thinks about you. Can you see into somebody’s mind? You cannot, so therefore the only evidence you have is based on how you want to believe someone sees you. You can waste time trying to piece together evidence of attraction, indifference, dislike, etc. and you can still be entirely wrong. You can manipulate people into seeing you in a certain way and they could be pacifying you the entire time. That might sound scary but it should come as more of a relief.

2. Most of what people say is a projection of how they see themselves and not a reflection of you. Unless it’s constructive, criticisms are born from what people either fear or seek within themselves. This is especially true for people high in narcissism as they aren’t introspective. 

3. People don’t have to like you, and you don’t have to care. Much of our upbringing and socialisation revolves around the idea you have to be codependent on external validation. If we’re always focused outside of ourselves we’ll buy more products to make us look good, chase status, and act in line with how others want us to behave. But how you experience other people matters more than how they experience you. Instead of wondering ‘do they like me?’ start asking ‘do I like them?’This is especially true in new situations, where we tend to care even more about perceptions.

4. You have no right to control how people see you. If someone dislikes you and you can’t fix or make sense of it, realise that some people are more comfortable with judging then coming to an understanding. A lot of our decisions are made on a subconscious level and not everyone understands themselves, let alone you. Take comfort in the fact they don’t really know you anyway, only fragments from interactions. And on that note…

5. Some people have to pretend you’re a bad person so they don’t have to feel guilty about how they’ve treated you. The ego is a powerful protector of our feelings and subconscious motivations. In these situations, going non-resistant is your best bet. Sometimes you have to put up boundaries because toxic people just want to exploit you so they feel better about themselves. 

6. Psychologists have found research to suggest people are too lazy to change their first impression of you. That’s why it’s said to matter and it’s also how people get easily manipulated by false charm. Not everyone is like this and you only want to care about the opinion of those who think as an individual.

7. Opinions are impermanent and you can only exist in the present moment. We all change, including our feelings and thoughts. More often than not, people take you as you are. It’s up to you to believe you are enough so it can be mirrored back to you. Any control you think you have over others is an illusion, ultimately. Judge yourself less and enjoy yourself more where you are, with what you have, right now. I promise you’ll get many happy returns.