Synthpop (also known as electropop, or technopop) is a genre of popular music that first became prominent in the 1980s, in which the synthesizer is the dominant musical instrument. It was prefigured in the 1960s and early 1970s by the use of synthesizers in progressive rock, electronic art rock, disco and particularly the “Krautrock” of bands like Kraftwerk. It arose as a distinct genre in Japan and the United Kingdom in the post-punk era as part of the new wave movement of the late-1970s to the mid-1980s.
Early synthpop pioneers included Japanese group Yellow Magic Orchestra and British bands Ultravox and the Human League; the latter largely used monophonic synthesizers to produce music with a simple and austere sound. After the breakthrough of Tubeway Army and Gary Numan in the British Singles Chart, large numbers of artists began to enjoy success with a synthesizer-based sound in the early 1980s, including Soft Cell, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Japan and Depeche Mode in the United Kingdom, while in Japan, Yellow Magic Orchestra’s success opened the way for synthpop bands such as P-Model, Plastics, and Hikashu. The development of inexpensive polyphonic synthesizers, the definition of MIDI and the use of dance beats, led to a more commercial and accessible sound for synthpop. This, its adoption by the style-conscious acts from the New Romantic movement, together with the rise of MTV, led to success for large numbers of British synthpop acts, including Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, in the United States.