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Sparks Biography

Home > Music > S > Sparks > Biography

Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, US
Years Active: 1970–present
Genres: Rock, Pop, Psychedelic Pop, New Wave, Disco, Synthpunk, Orchestral Pop

Sparks is an American rock and pop music band formed in Los Angeles in 1970 by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals), initially under the name Halfnelson. Best known for their quirky approach to song writing, Sparks' music is often accompanied by cutting and acerbic lyrics, and an idiosyncratic stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell's wide-eyed hyperactive frontman antics and Ron's sedentary scowling.

The band's long career has seen them successfully adopt many different musical genres; including glam pop, power pop, electronic dance music, mainstream pop and most recently chamber pop. Whilst achieving chart success in various countries around the world including England, Germany, France, and the United States, they have enjoyed a cult following since their first releases. Sparks have been highly influential on the development of popular music, in particular on the late 1970s scene, when in collaboration with Giorgio Moroder (and Telex subsequently), they reinvented themselves as an electronic pop duo, and abandoned the traditional rock band line up. Their frequently changing styles and visual presentations have kept the band at the forefront of experimentation and uniqueness in pop music. They are held in esteem by such peers as Morrissey, Franz Ferdinand, MGMT, Duran Duran, Bjork, Depeche Mode, New Order, Def Leppard, Mark Burgess of the Chameleons and They Might Be Giants, who all cite Sparks as a major influence.

The 2002 release of ''Lil' Beethoven'', their "genre-defying opus", as well as the more recent albums ''Hello Young Lovers'' (2006, their 20th studio album),''Exotic Creatures Of The Deep'' (2008), and their latest fantasy musical ''The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman'' (2009-2010) have brought Sparks renewed critical and commercial success, and seen them continue to "steer clear of pop conventions."