The Cultural Impact of Synthesizers on the 80s and Beyond

In the 1980s, the music industry witnessed a revolution with the widespread adoption of synthesizers. These electronic instruments not only changed the way music was created but also had a profound cultural impact on society. From shaping the sound of popular music to influencing fashion and even film, synthesizers became an integral part of the cultural landscape. In this article, we will explore the important concepts and facts surrounding the cultural impact of synthesizers on the 80s and beyond.

The Rise of Synth-pop

One of the most significant contributions of synthesizers to the cultural landscape of the 80s was the rise of synth-pop. Synth-pop, a genre characterized by its heavy use of synthesizers, emerged as a dominant force in popular music during this decade. Bands like Depeche Mode, New Order, and Duran Duran embraced the electronic sound and created catchy, synth-driven hits that resonated with audiences worldwide.

Source: Depeche Mode (YouTube)

The accessibility and versatility of synthesizers allowed musicians to experiment with new sounds and textures, resulting in a fresh and futuristic sound that captivated listeners. The use of synthesizers in synth-pop not only influenced the music industry but also had a profound impact on fashion and visual aesthetics.

Fashion and Visual Aesthetics

Synth-pop’s influence extended beyond the realm of music and seeped into the world of fashion and visual aesthetics. The futuristic and often flamboyant sound of synthesizers inspired a new wave of fashion trends. Artists like David Bowie and Boy George embraced bold and eccentric styles, incorporating elements of androgyny and futurism into their looks.

Source; a-ha (YouTube)

Music videos also played a crucial role in shaping the visual aesthetics associated with synthesizers. The advent of MTV in the early 80s provided a platform for artists to showcase their music visually. Synthesizer-driven hits like A-ha’s “Take On Me” and Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” featured visually stunning and often surreal music videos that became iconic representations of the era.

Film Soundtracks and Synthesizers

Synthesizers also made a significant impact on the world of film soundtracks during the 80s and beyond. The ability of synthesizers to create otherworldly and atmospheric sounds made them a perfect fit for science fiction and fantasy films. Movies like Blade Runner, Tron, and The Terminator featured synth-heavy soundtracks that not only enhanced the cinematic experience but also became integral to the identity of these films.

Source: Harold Faltermeyer (YouTube)

The use of synthesizers in film soundtracks extended beyond the realm of science fiction. Composers like Harold Faltermeyer and Giorgio Moroder incorporated synthesizers into their scores for action films like Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun, respectively. These iconic soundtracks not only elevated the films but also became synonymous with the cultural zeitgeist of the 80s.

Technological Advancements and Accessibility

The cultural impact of synthesizers in the 80s and beyond was also fueled by technological advancements and increased accessibility. As synthesizers became more affordable and user-friendly, they found their way into the hands of aspiring musicians and bedroom producers. This democratization of music production allowed for a wider range of voices and sounds to emerge.

The accessibility of synthesizers also led to the proliferation of electronic dance music (EDM) in the 90s and beyond. Genres like techno, house, and trance heavily relied on synthesizers to create pulsating beats and hypnotic melodies. The influence of synthesizers on EDM continues to this day, with artists like Daft Punk and Deadmau5 pushing the boundaries of electronic music.


The cultural impact of synthesizers on the 80s and beyond cannot be overstated. From shaping the sound of popular music to influencing fashion, visual aesthetics, and film soundtracks, synthesizers became an integral part of the cultural landscape. The rise of synth-pop, the fusion of music and fashion, and the use of synthesizers in film soundtracks all contributed to the lasting legacy of these electronic instruments. As technology continues to evolve, synthesizers remain a vital tool for musicians and continue to shape the cultural landscape of music.

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