is an umbrella term that describes the numerous bands whose sound was very lavish and "sophisticated". The genre can best be described as New Wave Music
with a heavy jazz-rock influence, particularly from Steely Dan
and Roxy Music
The craze started in 1983 when The Blue Nile
released A Walk Across The Rooftops
which displayed some of the most technically advanced production of its day. This type of music consisted of soulful singing, jazzy chords, touchy lyrics about love and heartache, and (probably most importantly) the highest production of synthesizers a band could afford.
There can be a large number of different things going on at once in this type of music that can fly over a listener's head and the matter of seconds. The music is full of subtle touches in melody and chord changes that take multiple listens to really notice and appreciate. Artists in this genre have a tendency to lean towards perfectionism. While bands like Simply Red had no problem releasing albums within 2 years of each other, bands like Sade and The Blue Nile can take as long as 5 years
just to complete an album. Expect lots of Troubled Productions
and song transformations. Also, a lot of these songs are played way
different live than they are in the studio.
The genre died out in the early 1990s, and was one of many genres that were prominent on early Alternative Rock
radio that were completely eradicated from playlists once Grunge
took hold of the airwaves. Many bands remained active well into the 2000s: Simply Red continued to tour and write albums until their breakup in 2010, Prefab Sprout is active from time to time as a solo project of its lead singer, Sade continues to seduce people with their sexy music, and The Blue Nile continues to take up to 8 years to record an album.
For genre highlights, The Beautiful South's Welcome to the Beautiful South
and 0898 Beautiful South
, The Blue Nile's Hats
and A Walk Across the Rooftops
, Simply Red's Stars
, and Sade's Diamond Life
and Love Deluxe
are all considered masterpieces.
The genre helped pave way for many Indie Pop
bands in the future, creating the idea of high production values and the use of synths in the music. While not exactly an Alternative Rock
genre, some bands like The Beautiful South later branched out into adding alternative elements to their songs.
Artists part of this movement include: