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This “synthesizer showdown” video from the ’80s will change your life

September 2, 2014

With people complaining about how the VMAs are increasingly out of touch with reality and the Emmys are backward-looking and sexist, it seems like we’re losing faith in awards shows. This is understandable, considering awards shows reached their absolute highest peak in 1985 with this moment and have been on the decline ever since.

It was about 10-15 years after synthesizers entered popular music, which meant they were the hot new thing by Grammy standards, and it was time to show off what these things could do. Producer Ken Erlich assembled a team that consisted of jazz synth pioneer Herbie Hancock, obligatory old garde performer Stevie Wonder, science-blind polyphonic ringtone inventor Thomas Dolby, and Howard Jones. They blasted through a medley of their best-known songs from the centre of what looked like NASA mission control, almost getting derailed by Stevie Wonder’s practical joke on Herbie Hancock. In the end, Thomas Dolby stole the stage by stepping away from the from the synthesizer he was pretending to play and pretended to conduct the group instead. Check it out.

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