Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"She Blinded Me with Science" by Thomas Dolby

Top 10 Alert!
One-Hit Wonder Alert!
Song#:  1350
Date:  02/19/1983
Debut:  77
Peak:  5
Weeks:  22
Genre:  Synthpop, New Wave

Pop Bits:  English musician Dolby initially stayed behind the scenes writing songs and working with other musicians such as Lene Lovich. By 1981, he began to branch out on his own and released a single that led to him signing with EMI. His debut album "The Golden Age of Wireless" did well in the UK and he ended up with a couple of minor chart singles. Dolby wanted to branch out into the new video medium, so he came up with a story about a scientist falling in love with his assistant. From that storyline he developed this song. It was released as a single and found its way onto an EP titled "Blinded By Science." In the UK, the song stumbled and could only manage a #49 peak. But in the US, the song and video got a lot of attention and Dolby found himself with an unexpected Top 10 hit. This prompted EMI to reissued Dolby's "Golden Age" LP and include this song plus the two songs from his first single. Both the EP and LP were solid sellers reaching #20 and #13, respectively, on the album chart. Unfortunately, the song would be Dolby's only major hit in the US and despite two other low-peaking singles, he got labeled a One-Hit Wonder.

ReduxReview:  Here's an 80s staple that I just loved. Dolby's synthpop was funky, quirky, and loads of fun. The song kind of pigeonholed Dolby into a synth-novelty artist, which is too bad. He's a terrific songwriter and his "Golden Age" and "The Flat Earth" albums still remain two of my favorites from the decade. This is a terrific single, but it's the type of song that can be very difficult to follow up. What I liked most about Dolby is that he wrote good songs that didn't rely on synths. He could easily play these acoustically on guitar or piano. But then he would envelope them in the technology of the day to give further depth. Although not necessarily a concept album, the UK version of "Golden Age" plays like one (the US version jumbles the tracks and it is not as effective). I find it fascinating. "The Flat Earth" expands his sound even further. Both are worth checking out.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) The high-pitched backing vocals in the chorus were supplied by music producer John "Mutt" Lange. Lang had hired Dolby to do some synth work on Foreigner's "4" album (notably on their #4 hit "Urgent"). Lang returned the favor by doing the vocals for Dolby. Lang would use Dolby's talents again while producing Def Leppard's "Pyromania" album.  2) For the part of the mad scientist, Dolby cast real-life scientist and British TV personality Magnus Pyke. Pyke was known for being highly animated and occasionally yelling "science!" at certain points. Pyke appeared in the video as well as providing the voice snippets in the song.


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