Alphaville's one hit in the UK was "Big In Japan" in 1984 which was marginally before my time and the band did not feature on the 80's themed compilations I collected over the years. Although "Forever Young" is regarded as a prom-theme staple in the US, it also never charted and remained on the outskirts of '8o's musical history.
I'm not one to pay attention to commercials, but I caught a snippet of an ad for the Saturn Ion here in the US back in 2003 and was intrigued by the backing track. Here's the commercial:
I initially mistakenly thought the track was by The Walkmen, which led to a series of aborted downloads and confusion. After more research on some forums, I discovered that it was the Alphaville track. Here's the original music video (warning - extreme cheese alert!):
I was excited to discover that Alphaville was not only a prolific (though critically panned) outfit, but that I really liked the synthpop sound which was very polished, with slightly affected vocals. As I discovered, they had continued making music throughout the '90's and into the new millenium, in much the same style. I was mildly surprised, because synthpop had died in the UK in the late '80's and had never really flourished in the US.
What I discovered was that in Germany in particular, the synthpop sound had remained commercially viable, bucking the trends towards grunge, britpop and teen pop elsewhere, and that many German groups had built up an impressive catalogue completely unknown to me. Bands such as De/Vision, Camouflage, Sea of Sin and others became new favorites. I discovered that all this and more was available through the excellent website A Different Drum, which also acted as a US label for many acts.
While my passion for synthpop has ebbed and flowed over the following years, "Forever Young" will always remain a personal favorite.
If all this leaves you wanting more Alphaville, there's plenty around. Start here for a good rundown of various mixes of the better known songs.
And finally, let's not forget the cover version that started this whole stream of consciousness rambling:
Youth Group - Forever Young (mp3)