Friday, June 27, 2008

Classic Track: Forever Young

I was researching some information on Youth Group's cover of the Alphaville classic "Forever Young" when I was reminded of how I discovered the original song in the first place. It led to some interesting musical developments for me personally so it seems appropriate to recognize this song in all the various versions.

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. Another blogger has kindly put together the following short compilation, including the original version, the extended version, and a brilliant modern remix version. If that leaves you wanting more, then Jacyk's Music Memories has a more comprehensive compilation of remixes here.

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)


Stephen Kuykendall said...

This is a great throw-back to Prom dance songs from the 80's. I also enjoy the new Rooney cover of the same.

Miss Parker said...

Cheese is good - I like cheese. If it makes you feel good, leaves you with a good vibe, brings back some warm memories, then so be it.

Though I'm not a fan of Alphaville in the literal sense, I still think "Forever Young" forms the philosophy on which I base my existence. Thanks for this thought-provoking post, fiftypercent. And may you be forever young. :-)

Saputra said...

Their debut album is an instant 80's classic. I love it so much that I re-bought the CD after damaging my first copy. The second album is also great with songs like 'Universal Daddy', 'Dance With Me' and 'Jerusalem'.

Whatever released beyond the first two albums are quite average.

Maverick2464 said...

One of my all time favorite songs. My favorite cover of this song is by Laura Branigan from her now out of print "Hold Me" Album. I know. call the geek patrol.