Much like the moment in The Wizard of Oz when the film turns from black-and-white to Technicolor, the opening strains of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” irrevocably changed perceptions of 1980s pop-rock. Employing the mechanistic funk of Krautrock, the grit of gospel, and the strangeness of psychedelia, Eurythmics’ genre- and gender-fluid pop vision was both futuristic and beholden to past eras, while remaining eminently accessible. Eurythmics’ lyrics and imagery presaged the third wave of feminism and a more mainstream deconstruction of sexuality and gender, with their videos and live performances featuring androgynous frontwoman Annie Lennox, at once formidable and alluring. The stories the band told, through song and theatrics, spoke to what it meant to live and love in the late 20th century.
In 1983, the operatically powerful Lennox and experimental producer/multi-instrumentalist Dave Stewart mostly eschewed guitar riffs in favor of analog synthesizer lines, sequenced to produce bedrock bass lines of melodic depth, resulting in their cynical breakout hit “Sweet Dreams.” Follow-up album Touch included three major hit singles and is ranked among Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Strikingly, when Eurythmics expanded their sound to include big-band strings and horns, they found continued acclaim. Stewart turned up his rock guitar on “Would I Lie to You?” and added lush orchestral arrangements to “Here Comes the Rain Again,” but no song better illustrates the duo’s ability to effortlessly pivot between rock and R&B than the iconic feminist anthem “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves,” which combined Lennox’s commanding vocal with Aretha Franklin and members of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
In 1990, Eurythmics went on hiatus to pursue expansive and award-winning solo careers, reforming in 1999 for the politically charged album Peace. Their 2005 empowering single “I’ve Got a Life” hit Number One on Billboard’s dance chart. After four decades, Eurythmics’ longevity and influence continue through performances in support of their charitable works and political activism.
“Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” “Love Is a Stranger,” Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (1983) • “Who’s That Girl?,” “Here Comes the Rain Again,” “Right by Your Side,” Touch (1983) • “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves,” “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart),” “Would I Lie to You?,” Be Yourself Tonight (1985) • “Missionary Man,” “When Tomorrow Comes,” Revenge (1986) • “I Need a Man,” Savage (1987) • Peace (1990) • “I’ve Got a Life” (2005)
David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Dusty Springfield
Chvrches, Adele, Garbage
Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart
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