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New Subscriber Playlist: “Pop Sophistication”

This month’s subscriber-only playlist and podcast episode are a brief sampling of the classy, sophisticated pop that emerged from the UK in the ’80s.
A photo of Prefab Sprout in a foggy countryside with two of the members sitting on a motorcycle
Prefab Sprout

Earlier this year, I stumbled across a copy of Prefab Sprout’s 1985 album, Steve McQueen, in my music library. I’d known of Prefab Sprout for years, but if I’m being honest, I’d avoided listening to them because, well, I thought their name was kind of dumb. I am, of course, kicking myself for that foolishness now.

This month’s playlist, titled “Pop Sophistication,” was inspired by my subsequent Steve McQueen fixation, which then led me down a rabbit trail of similar British pop acts from the ’80s — all of whom straddled the lines between new wave, synth-pop, alternative, jazz, soul, and blues to create a form of elegant, sophisticated pop earmarked by heartfelt lyrics, impassioned vocals, smooth riffs, and immaculate production. Some of these artists (e.g., The Blue Nile, David Sylvian, Talk Talk) would go on to great success while others (e.g., China Crisis, Love & Money) would fade into nigh-obscurity.

Accompanying the playlist is the latest episode of my“Playlist Breakdown” podcast, in which I spotlight one of the playlist’s songs and why it’s so special, interesting, and/or meaningful. In this month’s episode, I discuss Prefab Sprout’s “Appetite,” a gorgeous song that, in a more perfect and just world, would be considered one of the best pop songs of the ’80s.

All of these are little bonuses for subscribers who support Opus financially. If you’d like to get access to them (and more), subscribe to Opus for $5/month or $50/year. (You can also subscribe for free and get my weekend newsletter.)

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