With millions of Americans quarantined in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no better time to explore some off-the-beaten-path music. YouTube and Spotify are treasure troves for music seemingly forgotten to time.
Here are five fun, quirky and wonderfully strange tracks to explore during the lockdown.
“I Wanna Be Your Lover” – La Bionda (1980)
This delightfully bizarre track is about two astronauts encountering an alien — and it’s a love song. La Bionda’s techno-pop bliss — laced with one hell of a killer hook — is everything we need right now.
The surreal animated music video certainly adds to the experience of “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” which showcases some trippy art and a laser gun battle between our heroes and a lion space-demon.
The duo behind the track, brothers Carmelo and Michelangelo La Bionda, are considered touchstones of the Italo disco genre.
They’ve released eight albums, most recently 2013’s “Come Back to My Life.”
“Color My Love” – Fun Fun (1984)
It’s clear that America wasn’t the only country having a blast with pop music in the ’80s. Italy’s second romp featured on this list is Fun Fun’s “Color My Love.”
The music video shows the members of the group trouncing around in a bouncy house wearing white jumpsuits and throwing beach balls. What’s not to love? Good luck getting this European earworm out of your head.
“Color My Love” was a minor hit in the States, reaching No. 9 on the US Dance charts.
Today, why not make this your song of the summer?
“Hitotsudake” – Akiko Yano (1980)
Though the lyrics are in Japanese, the synths and melodies in Akiko Yano’s 1980 track are universal.
Yano — a jazz-influenced pianist frequently compared with British art-rocker Kate Bush — delivers the goods on “Hitotsudake,” a gentle ballad with a tempo that builds over the course of the track.
Yano’s career spans over four decades and covers a plethora of genres including disco, folk, jazz, rock and pop.
Her band, the Akiko Yano Trio, performs periodically in New York City.
“At Dawn” – Alyans (1987)
Time to get moody — Soviet style. The kicking bassline in “At Dawn” keeps things interesting, along with the lead singer’s vocal style, reminiscent of the Cure’s Robert Smith.
Props to the keyboardist’s fabulous sense of style. No one else can rock a pastel Hawaiian shirt and futuristic glasses like that man.
According to the music blog the Spinoff, Russian rock music slowly began to trickle into the culture in the early 1980s as the Soviet Union began easing restrictions during the Cold War. Still, the music and lyrics had to be approved by the government before its release.
“This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” – Sparks (1974)
Hailing from Los Angeles, Sparks lives up to their name. This track — which sounds something like Queen going through a spooky new wave phase — is both a rocking and unsettling time, led by singer Russell Mael’s unconventional, staccato delivery.
Though the entire song is a bizarre, theatrical treat, it peaks at its soaring guitar solo.
“This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” is a strange trip through and through in the best way possible. The audience shown in the video looks understandably perplexed by the song, adding to the track’s mystique.
Sparks still perform today and continues to forge a creative path in rock music. Their most recent album came in May, titled “A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip.”