[2023] What is considered synth-pop? A Comprehensive Guide

Table of Contents

Quick Answer

Synth-pop, short for synthesizer pop, is a genre of popular music that emerged in the late 1970s and gained popularity in the 1980s. It is characterized by the use of electronic synthesizers, catchy melodies, and a blend of pop and electronic music elements. Synth-pop continues to influence modern music and is known for its distinctive sound and memorable hooks. Synth-pop is considered a pioneering genre that has paved the way for many electronic music styles today.

Quick Tips and Facts

  • Synth-pop originated in the late 1970s and gained mainstream popularity in the 1980s.
  • The genre is characterized by the use of synthesizers, drum machines, and electronic production techniques.
  • Synth-pop combines pop music elements with electronic music, creating a catchy and accessible sound.
  • Key artists in the synth-pop genre include Depeche Mode, New Order, and Pet Shop Boys.
  • Synth-pop continues to influence modern music, with artists like CHVRCHES and The Weeknd incorporating its sound into their music.


Synth-pop is known for its distinctive characteristics that set it apart from other genres. Here are some key characteristics of synth-pop music:

  1. Synthesizers and Electronic Instruments: Synth-pop heavily relies on the use of synthesizers, drum machines, and other electronic instruments. These instruments create the signature sound of the genre.
  2. Catchy Melodies: Synth-pop is known for its catchy melodies and hooks. The melodies often stick in the listener’s mind and are a key element of the genre’s appeal.
  3. Electronic Production Techniques: Synth-pop utilizes electronic production techniques, such as sampling, sequencing, and programming, to create its sound. These techniques allow for precise control over the music’s timbre and texture.
  4. Emphasis on Pop Song Structures: Despite its electronic elements, synth-pop retains a strong focus on pop song structures. It typically features verses, choruses, and bridges, making it accessible to a wide audience.
  5. Lyrics and Themes: Synth-pop lyrics often explore themes of love, relationships, and introspection. They can range from introspective and emotional to more upbeat and playful.
  6. Influence from New Wave: Synth-pop emerged during the New Wave movement and shares some stylistic elements with the genre. Both genres embraced electronic instruments and experimented with new sounds.


The history of synth-pop can be traced back to the late 1970s when electronic music began to make its mark on popular music. Here are some key milestones in the genre’s history:

  • Late 1970s: Synthesizers and electronic instruments became more accessible and affordable, leading to their increased use in popular music. Bands like Kraftwerk and Gary Numan embraced these instruments and laid the foundation for synth-pop.
  • Early 1980s: Synth-pop gained mainstream popularity in the early 1980s, with bands like Depeche Mode, New Order, and The Human League dominating the charts. Their use of synthesizers and catchy melodies resonated with audiences and established synth-pop as a distinct genre.
  • Mid-1980s: Synth-pop continued to evolve in the mid-1980s, with artists like Pet Shop Boys and Eurythmics pushing the boundaries of the genre. These artists incorporated more complex production techniques and experimental sounds, expanding the sonic palette of synth-pop.
  • Late 1980s: As the 1980s came to a close, synth-pop began to merge with other genres, such as house and techno. This fusion gave rise to new subgenres like synth-house and synth-wave, further diversifying the electronic music landscape.
  • Modern Era: Synth-pop continues to evolve and influence modern music. Artists like CHVRCHES, The Weeknd, and HAIM incorporate elements of synth-pop into their music, keeping the genre alive and relevant.

Influence and Legacy

Synth-pop has had a lasting influence on the music industry and continues to shape the sound of popular music. Here are some ways in which synth-pop has left its mark:

  1. Electronic Music: Synth-pop laid the foundation for many electronic music genres that followed, including house, techno, and EDM. The use of synthesizers and electronic instruments became a staple in these genres.
  2. Pop Music: Synth-pop’s emphasis on catchy melodies and pop song structures has influenced the broader pop music landscape. Many pop artists incorporate electronic elements into their music, taking inspiration from the synth-pop sound.
  3. Production Techniques: The electronic production techniques pioneered by synth-pop artists have become standard in modern music production. Sampling, sequencing, and programming are now integral parts of the music-making process.
  4. Fashion and Aesthetics: Synth-pop’s visual aesthetic, characterized by bold colors, futuristic imagery, and stylish outfits, has had an impact on fashion and popular culture. The genre’s influence can be seen in fashion trends and music videos.
  5. Revival and Nostalgia: In recent years, there has been a revival of interest in synth-pop, with artists and listeners embracing the genre’s nostalgic sound. This resurgence has introduced synth-pop to a new generation of music fans.


Synth-pop has been shaped by numerous talented artists who have contributed to the genre’s development and popularity. Here are some key artists in the synth-pop genre:

Artist Key Songs Year Formed
Depeche Mode “Enjoy the Silence” 1980
New Order “Blue Monday” 1980
Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls” 1981
The Human League “Don’t You Want Me” 1977
Yazoo “Only You” 1981
Erasure “A Little Respect” 1985
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark “Enola Gay” 1978
Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” 1980
CHVRCHES “The Mother We Share” 2011
The Weeknd “Blinding Lights” 2010


I went out on my deck during a sunset this past Summer of 2016. I had my camera, some fruit and colored paper sheets. The rest is history.

Is David Bowie a synth-pop artist?

No, David Bowie is not typically considered a synth-pop artist. While he experimented with electronic elements in his music, Bowie’s style was more diverse and encompassed various genres, including rock, glam, and art pop.

What does synth-pop sound like?

Synth-pop is characterized by its use of synthesizers, electronic instruments, and catchy melodies. It often has a polished and glossy sound, with a blend of pop and electronic elements. The genre’s sound can range from upbeat and danceable to introspective and atmospheric.

What is the difference between disco and synth-pop?

Disco and synth-pop are two distinct genres, although they both emerged during the same era. Here are some key differences between the two:

  • Instruments: Disco heavily relies on live instrumentation, including guitars, bass, drums, and horns, while synth-pop utilizes synthesizers and electronic instruments.
  • Rhythm: Disco is known for its driving four-on-the-floor beat, while synth-pop often incorporates programmed drum machines and sequenced rhythms.
  • Sound: Disco has a more organic and funk-inspired sound, while synth-pop has a more polished and electronic sound.
  • Era: Disco was most popular in the 1970s, while synth-pop gained mainstream popularity in the 1980s.

What era was synth-pop?

Synth-pop emerged in the late 1970s and gained mainstream popularity in the 1980s. The genre’s heyday was during the 1980s, but it continues to influence and inspire artists to this day.


Synth-pop, with its blend of electronic and pop music elements, has made a significant impact on the music industry. The genre’s catchy melodies, use of synthesizers, and electronic production techniques have shaped the sound of popular music. From its origins in the late 1970s to its continued influence today, synth-pop remains a beloved genre that continues to inspire artists and captivate audiences.

If you’re interested in exploring synth-pop further, check out some of the key artists mentioned in this article, such as Depeche Mode, New Order, and Pet Shop Boys. Their music is a great starting point for diving into the world of synth-pop.

  • “Synth-pop – Wikipedia” – Wikipedia
  • “The History of Synth-pop” – The Guardian
  • “The Synth-pop Sound That Defined a Decade” – Red Bull

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