[[caption-width-right:350:He was born to synthesize.]]

->''"I only want to see if you'll give up on me,''\\
''But there's always more."''

'''Todd Rundgren''' (born 1948) is a musician, singer, songwriter, [[IAmTheBand multi-instrumentalist]] and RecordProducer from Philadelphia, known for his [[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly eclectic, experimental style]], incredibly prolific recording and quirky sense of humour. While he's dabbled in numerous styles and has experimented a lot with his material, he largely operates within a few rock subgenres, namely: PowerPop (coincidentally, the one he made his initial name in), HardRock, ProgressiveRock, Electronic/Club and RAndB (classic [=R&B=]). His [[NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly mix and match musical genres]] approach, dabbling in TrueArtIsIncomprehensible, cult following and emphasis on humour has earned him occasional comparisons to Music/FrankZappa.

Rundgren started his career as a guitarist/vocalist in the PsychedelicRock band (The) Nazz [[note]]nothing to do with that [[WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy other Nazz]] - their name comes from "The Nazz Are Blue" by Music/TheYardbirds[[/note]], which he founded in 1967 alongside bassist Carson Van Osten, drummer Thom Mooney and keyboardist/vocalist Robert Antoni. Their first album, ''Nazz'', showcased both his arranging and composing talents and the band's heavily derivative, PromotedFanboy sound - they sounded like a cross between Music/TheBeatles, Music/TheWho, Music/{{Cream}} and Music/TheYardbirds. It spawned a minor hit single, "Hello It's Me", and didn't go much anywhere. A planned double album was shortened to a single LP, ''Nazz Nazz'', and released a year later. ''Nazz Nazz'' showed the band somewhat abandoning its psychedelic trappings and concentrating on catchy, if still not too groundbreaking PowerPop. Rundgren left the band shortly after, as his newfound love of Music/CaroleKing, Music/LauraNyro and soul music and the resulting material he was writing didn't fit with the band's PowerPop sound. The band disintegrated shortly thereafter, and an album of the heavily Nyro-influenced material left over from previous sessions was released, imaginatively titled ''Nazz III''. Antoni and Mooney briefly ended up joining Fuse, an extremely early incarnation of Music/CheapTrick which played throughout the Midwest billed either as "Fuse" or "Nazz", before practically vanishing from the music industry.

Rundgren officially began his solo career in 1970, and has been going steady ever since then with his musical mashups and quirky lyrics. While PowerPop and HardRock have remained the basic genres he operates in, at various points he's experimented with PsychedelicRock, ProgressiveRock (between 1973-1976 and with his band Utopia), jazz fusion, NewWaveMusic, {{Soul}}, {{Techno}}, ElectronicMusic and others. Predictably, he has a very sizeable {{Fandom}} but only a few, fleeting moments of mainstream success, such as the singles "Hello It's Me" (a 1972 upbeat reworking of the Nazz song), "I Saw the Light", "Can We Still Be Friends" and "Bang the Drum All Day". His massive output, both solo and with his two bands Nazz and Utopia, can be a frequent source of both ArchivePanic and SeasonalRot.

He is also known for being an [[FollowTheLeader early adopter and innovator]] in the domains of {{Music Video}}s and use of computers: his video for "Time Heals" was one of the first to be aired on {{MTV}}, he developed one of the first computer paint programs for the Apple II, Utopia Graphics System, way back in 1981, he was an early adopter of the desktop video program Video Toaster[[note]]the same hardware responsible for most of the CGI in ''Series/BabylonFive''[[/note]] for Amiga in TheNineties, and was one of the first people to distribute his work online, long before iTunes or even Napster, through a subscription service, [=PatroNet=], in the mid-nineties.

Rundgren returned to the band format through the foundation of Utopia in 1973. In its initial incarnation, Utopia was a six-piece ensemble with Rundgren, Kevin Ellman (percussion), Mark "Moogy" Klingman (keyboards), M. Frog Labat (Jean Yves Labat, synthesizers), Ralph Schukett (keyboards), and John Siegler (bass and cello). Their output was largely formed of [[EpicRocking long]], jammy ProgressiveRock instrumentals that brought a mixed critical reception (however, Utopia's début album, ''Todd Rundgren's Utopia'', was its second-best selling album, only surpassed by ''Adventures in Utopia''). By 1976, Rundgren revamped Utopia and reduced it to a four-piece band consisting of him, Kasim Sulton (bass, vocals), Roger Powell (keyboards, vocals) and Willie Wilcox (drums, vocals). They also switched to a catchy, mainstream pop/HardRock sound, bringing them critical and commercial success. They carried on for a while, leaning increasingly towards Pop and NewWaveMusic, before calling it a day in 1986.

Alongside his solo career and work with bands, Rundgren is also known as a RecordProducer, having produced albums for such acts as Music/{{Sparks}}, New York Dolls, Badfinger, Music/TheBand, Music/GrandFunkRailroad, Music/MeatLoaf, Bonnie Tyler, Music/PattiSmith, The Tubes, Music/{{XTC}}, Music/BadReligion, Music/CheapTrick, The Psychedelic Furs, Hall and Oates, and so on. Some of the bands have claimed that working with him was difficult and he acted like a JerkAss, most famously XTC, Sparks and Bad Religion. However, for many bands their most successful albums have been produced by him, as is the case with XTC (''Music/{{Skylarking}}''), Grand Funk Railroad (''We're an American Band'') and Meat Loaf (''Music/BatOutOfHell'').


With Nazz:
* ''Nazz'' (1968)
* ''Nazz Nazz'' (1969)
* ''Nazz III'' (1970)

* ''Runt'' (1970; PowerPop)
* ''Runt. The Ballad of Todd Rundgren'' (1971; BaroquePop)
* ''Music/SomethingAnything'' (1972; BaroquePop, PowerPop, SingerSongwriter, NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly)
* ''A Wizard, a True Star'' (1973; PsychedelicRock, NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly)
* ''Todd'' (1974; ProgressiveRock, NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly)
* ''Initiation'' (1975; ProgressiveRock, NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly)
* ''Faithful'' (1976; PowerPop, CoverAlbum)
* ''Hermit of Mink Hollow'' (1978; NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly)
* ''Healing'' (1981; NewWaveMusic, PowerPop)
* ''The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect'' (1983; NewWaveMusic)
* ''A Cappella'' (1985; ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin)
* ''Nearly Human'' (1989; NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly)
* ''2nd Wind'' (1991; LiveAlbum)
* ''No World Order'' (1993; {{Techno}})
* ''The Individualist'' (1995; {{Techno}})
* ''With a Twist'' (1997; Bossa Nova, RearrangeTheSong)
* ''Up Against It'' (1998)
* ''One Long Year'' (2000; PowerPop)
* ''Liars'' (2004; PowerPop)
* ''Arena'' (2008; ArenaRock)
* ''Todd Rundgren's Johnson'' (2011; CoverAlbum)
* ''(re)Production'' (2011; CoverAlbum)
* ''State'' (2013; {{Techno}})
* ''Global'' (2015; {{Techno}})

With Utopia:

* ''Todd Rundgren's Utopia'' (1974; ProgressiveRock)
* ''Another Live'' (1975; ProgressiveRock)
* ''Disco Jets'' (recorded 1976, released 2001; {{Disco}})
* ''Ra'' (1977; ProgressiveRock)
* ''Oops! Wrong Planet'' (1977; PowerPop)
* ''Adventures in Utopia'' (1980; ProgressiveRock, {{Disco}}, PowerPop)
* ''Deface the Music'' (1980; BritishInvasion, PsychedelicRock)
* ''Swing to the Right'' (1982; NewWaveMusic)
* ''Utopia'' (1982; NewWaveMusic)
* ''Oblivion'' (1984; NewWaveMusic)
* ''P.O.V.'' (1985; NewWaveMusic)

Notable albums produced by Todd Rundgren

* ''New York Dolls'' (1973) by Music/NewYorkDolls.
* ''Music/BatOutOfHell'' (1977) by Music/MeatLoaf.
* ''Music/{{Wave}}'' (1979) by Music/PattiSmith, where Rundgren also did the engineering and plays bass guitar.
* ''Music/{{Skylarking}}'' (1986) by Music/{{XTC}}.


* AffectionateParody: The Utopia album ''Deface the Music'' is largely a parody of Music/TheBeatles, from their early Merseybeat incarnation up to their trippy PsychedelicRock stuff.
** The cover of ''Swing to the Right'', retouches a photo of fundamentalist Christians burning Beatles memorabilia following Music/JohnLennon's 'more popular than Jesus' remarks, to turn it into a DrosteImage.
* AllThereInTheManual: His liner notes for ''Something/Anything?'' explain everything, including adding additional libretto for the ending "pop operetta".
* AscendedFanboy: Musically speaking, his early Nazz output is largely a game of {{Follow The Lead|er}} of his favourite bands (Music/TheWho, Music/TheBeatles, Music/{{Cream}} and Music/TheYardbirds, mostly).
* AtomicHate: The subject of "Hiroshima", if the title didn't make it obvious.
* AuthorTract: His 1975 album ''Initiation'' was a retort to his fans who wanted him to ditch the synthesizers and Buddhist symbolism that had crept into his crunchy rock sound. Instead, he went on for 68 full minutes about it, telling his fans that he was a "Real Man" "Born to Synthesize", and taunting them to follow him or lose him forever. This ended with 35-minute synth freakout that closed the album, containing movements named after the seven chakras.
* {{Autotune}}: Used sparingly in "Afterlife".
* {{Bishonen}}: In the Nazz days — also perhaps in the early 70's.
* {{Bookends}}: The first side of ''A Wizard, a True Star'' and both individual sides of ''Initiation'' each open and close with the same melody.
* BreakUpSong: One possible interpretation of "Hello It's Me", although see FriendsWithBenefits below. "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" and "Can We Still Be Friends?" are other, less ambiguous examples.
* BrokenRecord: A couple of instances on ''A Wizard, a True Star'', namely the end of "Rock & Roll Pussy", and the transition between "International Feel" and "Never Never Land".
* CallForward: "La Feel Internacěonále", from 1973's ''A Wizard, a True Star'', contains the line "Wait another year/Utopia is here". The next year, Utopia would release its self-titled début album.
* CampGay: "You Don't Have to Camp Around", a lighthearted razzing of costume designer Larry Nichols, who fit the CampGay trope in real life.
* ClassClown: "Piss Aaron".
* ClusterFBomb: "Flaw" is a hilarious example of this trope. The word "motherfucker" sung with harmonies in a blue-eyed soul style is... not something you hear every day.
* ConceptAlbum: ''Initiation'' is one (see TakeThatCritics below.) The first side of ''Faithful'' was about faithfully recreating classic pop and rock songs note for note. Side four of ''Something/Anything?'' is a RockOpera (see trope entry below). Finally, ''Liars'' is a concept album about... well... ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.
* CoverVersion:
** "Never Never Land" from the ''Theatre/PeterPan'' musical, "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" by Music/TheYardbirds, "Good Vibrations" by the Music/TheBeachBoys, "Rain" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" by Music/TheBeatles, "If 6 Was 9" by Music/JimiHendrix, "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (and I'll Go Mine)" by Music/BobDylan, "The Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song" by Creator/GilbertAndSullivan (yes, we're not shitting you), "Two Little Hitlers" by Music/ElvisCostello. Several of these were performed as note-for-note covers as if they were classical music, which is the concept of the first half of ''Faithful''.
** ''Todd Rundgren's Johnson'' is an entire album of Music/RobertJohnson covers (and not [[ICallHimMrHappy what you thought it was]]), and ''(re)Production'' consists of covers of songs from albums Rundgren had previously produced.
** And with Utopia, a cover of "Do Ya" by The Move (though better known from Music/ElectricLightOrchestra's version, a rare example of an artist [[CoveredUp Covering Up]] his own song) and "For the Love of Money" by The O'Jays. (Incidentally, the reason ELO re-recorded "Do Ya" is because a music journalist [[CowboyBebopAtHisComputer confused Utopia's version for the original]], so Utopia's version could be considered to have temporarily CoveredUp the song as well).
*** Speaking of artists Covering Up their own songs, ''Something/Anything?'' features Rundgren's hit remake of "Hello, It's Me", which he'd originally done with The Nazz.
** ''A Wizard, A True Star'' has a medley of Motown covers: "I'm So Proud of You", "Ooh Baby Baby", "La-La Means I Love You" and, most interestingly, "Cool Jerk" performed in 7/8 instead of its normal 4/4.
* DeadpanSnarker: Known for being an extreme one. It has even damaged relationships with other musicians and has left people whose work he produced feeling insecure.
* DistinctDoubleAlbum: ''Something/Anything?'' cranks this UpToEleven: each of the four LP sides is in a different style, with the fourth being a mini-RockOpera.[[note]]Side one is described in the liner notes as "a bouquet of ear-catching melodies"; side two is "the cerebral side"; side three is "the kid gets heavy"; side four is "Baby Needs a New Pair of Snakeskin Boots (A Pop Operetta)".[[/note]] Furthermore, the only thing that stops ''Initiation'' (running time 67:27) and ''A Wizard, a True Star'' (running time 56:02) from falling under this trope is that they were pressed on one LP each because Rundgren didn't want to break up the continuous song suites he'd built - both albums were long enough to be double LP sets, and indeed Rundgren's album ''Todd'', released in between them, ''was'' a double album shorter than ''Initiation'' at 66:51. Both ''A Wizard'' and ''Initation'' ([[EspeciallyZoidberg especially]] ''[[EspeciallyZoidberg Initiation]]'') display markedly different styles on each side. Rundgren did Distinct Single Albums a lot, actually - ''Faithful'' is another example, with the first side consisting of note-for-note covers of other artists' songs as if they were classical music (hence the album title), and the second consisting of original material. ExecutiveMeddling also forced ''Hermit of Mink Hollow'' into this - initially Rundgren had a different running order (the one on the back cover), but the record company insisted on making the first side "The Easy Side" and the second side "The Difficult Side".
* DownerEnding: The RockOpera that closes out ''Music/SomethingAnything'' ends with the protagonist [[DidNotGetTheGirl not getting the girl]] and then dying from exhaustion after screaming his lungs out. This probably won't be obvious without [[AllThereInTheManual the liner notes]].
* DrosteImage: The cover of ''Swing to the Right''.
* EpicRocking: Particularly in his work with Utopia. "The Ikon" is Utopia's most extreme example of this, being slightly over thirty minutes long. His solo piece "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire" (from ''Initiation''), at over thirty-five minutes, is even longer. It's worth noting that these pieces were so long they heavily stretched the limitations of the vinyl format, and resulted in the albums being mastered more quietly than normal [=LPs=] (and being easily damaged if played with a worn needle). Rundgren also sped up the material on ''Initation'' to shorten it by two to three minutes. The sleeve notes of ''Initiation'' (which, at sixty-eight minutes in length, is not the longest single LP ever released, but still pretty high on the list) recommended that a person record the album to tape to preserve the sound. Other lengthy Rundgren pieces include "Healing", divided into three movements and spanning almost twenty minutes, and Utopia's "Singring and the Glass Guitar (An Electrified Fairytale)", which exceeds eighteen minutes, but there are plenty more.
* ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin: the album ''A Cappella'', named for an Italian phrase meaning "without instruments," involves no instruments whatever, just Rundgren as a SelfBackingVocalist via lots of overdubbing and sampling.
* ForWantOfANail: "The Want of a Nail".
* FriendsWithBenefits: One common interpretation of "Hello It's Me" is that it's about this.
* IAmTheBand: Frequently Rundgren is the only featured performer, as well as being the engineer and producer.
* [[IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming Idiosyncratic Song Naming]]: Every song on ''Arena'' has a OneWordTitle.
* {{Instrumentals}}: Several of them. The longest is "A Treatise on Cosmic Fire" from ''Initiation'', which is over thirty-five minutes long.
* InTheStyleOf: Did this with [[SelfParody his own songs]] on the album ''With a Twist'', which offered bossa nova tiki lounge versions of his most familiar hits.
* IWantMyJetpack: "Future" from ''Liars''.
--> I'm supposed to drive a flying car
--> I'm supposed to have a house on mars
--> I'm supposed to live two hundred years
--> I'm supposed to live
--> I'm supposed to live in the future...
* JustForPun: In case you somehow didn't get the title of ''Todd Rundgren's Johnson'', he titled the EP version ''[[SelfDeprecation Todd Rundgren's Short Johnson]]''.
* LimitedLyricsSong: Utopia's material could get this way. "The Ikon" is around thirty minutes long and comparatively very little of it has lyrics.
* LoudnessWar: Mostly averted, but ''Arena'' comes in at a borderline [=DR6=].
* MediumAwareness: Side 2 of ''Something/Anything?'' has Todd introducing a game where the listeners keep an ear out for record mastering gaffes -- hiss, hum, popping P's, poor tape editing -- whoever finds the most on their album of choice, wins!
* MindScrew: ''A Wizard, A True Star'' for sure. And ''Todd'' to an extent. It was his psychedelic period!
* MinimalisticCoverArt: ''Faithful''
** Done specifically because he figured his fans were "faithful" enough to know it's his music and buy it.
* MisogynySong[=/=]MisandrySong: "Happy Anniversary" sounds like an example of both tropes on the surface, but it's on a concept album about lies and liars (whose liner notes explicitly say that every song on the album is about "a paucity of truth" even if it initially seems to be about something else) so it's almost certainly intended as a deconstruction.
* MoneySong: Inverted with "Mammon", which denounces greed.
* MundaneMadeAwesome: "I Hate My Frickin' ISP", from ''One Long Year'', is a hard-rocking rant about how much Todd's internet connection sucks.
* MusicalPastiche:
** Many of the songs from the first Nazz album are pretty blatantly derivative of BritishInvasion bands. Doesn't stop them from being enjoyable, though.
*** "Open My Eyes" is basically ripping off Music/TheWho's PowerPop era, a fact that the intro makes abundantly clear when it yanks the riff of "I Can't Explain" with one chord altered.
*** "When I Get My Plane" sounds like it was beamed in from ''[[Music/TheBeatles A Hard Day's Night]]'', specifically imitating "When I Get Home".
*** "Back of Your Mind" sounds like a Music/{{Cream}} song stripped of instrumental virtuosity; Antoni and Rundgren even do a convincing job of sounding like Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton.
** "I Saw The Light" is a Music/CaroleKing pastiche.
** Also "Baby Let's Swing" (included as a medley on ''Runt'') is both about and in the style of Music/LauraNyro, his other major influence from this period.
** Utopia's ''Deface the Music'' is a whole ''album'' of these. It's composed entirely of [[AffectionateParody Affectionate Parodies]] of Beatles songs, similar to Music/TheRutles' music, and as with Music/TheRutles, a listener could be forgiven for thinking these are lost Beatles songs (although the production sounds like a product of of the 1980s - maybe it was a Beatles reunion from an alternate universe where Music/JohnLennon didn't die). It should be noted that Utopia don't do dead-on Beatles vocal impersonations as the Rutles did, however.
** "Slut" could be a lost [[Music/TheRollingStones Rolling Stones]] song, if it weren't so comedic.
** "Song of the Viking" and "An Elpee's Worth of Toons" are both GilbertAndSullivan pastiches.
** "Little Red Lights" is a musical tribute to Music/JimiHendrix.
* MustHaveCaffeine: "Espresso (All Jacked Up)" from ''The Individualist''.
* MyGirlIsASlut: [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin "Slut"]].
* NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly: ''A Wizard, A True Star'' is psychedelic without a doubt, but it also breaks free of the constraints of any one genre. He would continue this experimentation on ''Todd'' and ''Initiation'', which also delved head-first into ProgressiveRock.
* NewSoundAlbum: Almost every one of them.
* NoEnding: "La Feel Internacěonále" just cuts off without warning.
* PatterSong: "Song of the Viking", "An Elpee's Worth of Toons", "The Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song"
* PopStarComposer: He scored ''DumbAndDumber''.
* ProtestSong: Todd began moving more into this during TheEighties, with songs like Utopia's cover of "For the Love of Money", "Swing to the Right", "Johnee Jingo", and later on, just about all of ''No World Order'' and ''Liars''.
* RearrangeTheSong: ''With a Twist'' consists of previously recorded songs, rearranged in a bossa-nova style.
** Also done on the bonus disc of ''State'', where fourteen previous songs are given live orchestral remakes.
** Live concerts usually reflect the most recent album, which leads to rearrangement of the older songs in turn. The ''A Capella'' tour is the clearest example by far, though.
* RecordNeedleScratch: The "Intro" to Side 2 of ''Something/Anything?'' ends in one of these.
* RecordProducer: To his credit, he was the only producer that figured that Music/MeatLoaf's ''Bat Out of Hell'' had potential. He also found it hilarious, which is why he produced it.
* ReligionRantSong: "God Said", "Fascist Christ".
* RockOpera: Side four of ''Something/Anything?'' is devoted to "Baby Needs a New Pair of Snakeskin Boots (A Pop Operetta)".
* SelfBackingVocalist: Todd's use of layering his own harmonies is unique in rock music and fairly common in his work, regardless of genre. It was even used in his work with Nazz, and taken to its logical extreme on his 1985 ''A Cappella'', where every single sound on the album uses his own voice as its foundation, thanks both to this trope and {{Sampling}}.
* SelfDeprecation: "An Elpee's Worth of Tunes".
* SiameseTwinSongs: Done a lot, including the entire first side of ''A Wizard, a True Star'', the entire first side of ''Initiation'', and most of ''Liars''. The rare exceptions on ''Liars'' use FadingIntoTheNextSong instead. (Note: the Japanese version of ''Liars'' does not do either; each song has a complete fade-out).
* TheSomethingSong: "Song of the Viking"
** Torch Song, from the same album.
* SpellingSong: "Slut".
* SpokenWordInMusic: He does this often. "Intro" from ''Something/Anything?'', for example, wherein Todd jokingly demonstrates some of the engineering flaws that can affect an [=LP=].
* StudioChatter + ThrowItIn: ''Something/Anything?''
* TakeThat: "Rock N Roll Pussy" is a shot at Music/JohnLennon, who Rundgren perceived as something of a limousine liberal.
** Several towards the modern music industry in "Soul Brother".
** Towards American gun culture in "Gun".
* TakeThatCritics: ''Initiation'' as a whole was Rundgren yelling "tough shit" to his fans and critics who complained that he was wading too deeply into synthesizers and Eastern spirituality. The topic is lyrically addressed at face value in the song "The Death of Rock and Roll", and the title track and "Fair Warning" obliquely indicate that Rundgren is ready to break new ground and the listener can either follow along or tune out. The album concludes with a 35 minute synthesizer orgasm, with movements named after the seven chakras and prana, the breath of life.
* UncommonTime: "Cool Jerk", "Is It My Name?", "Don't You Ever Learn?", "Freak Parade", "Another Life", "Weakness", amongst countless other examples; the use of 7/8 time and other compound meter signatures is one of Rundgren's compositional hallmarks. "Initiation" is a strange example as it's also influenced by {{disco}} (a style which uses nothing but CommonTime), but nonetheless the meter signature jumps all over the place.
* YeOldeButcheredeEnglishe: In the liner notes to ''Something/Anything?'', several lines of "Song of the Viking" are written with added silent Es, even though Vikings don't originate from the British Isles. Rundgren explicitly states in the liner notes that the song is a tribute to Gilbert & Sullivan, who were most definitely British.