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Los Angeles, USA




1970 to Present...

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Sparks is an American pop and rock duo, originally formed as a Los Angeles band called Halfnelson in 1967 by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals). Known for their quirky approach to songwriting, Sparks' music is often accompanied by sophisticated and acerbic lyrics, often about women or Shakespearean literature references, and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell's animated, hyperactive frontman antics and Ron's deadpan scowling. They are also noted for Russell Mael's distinctive wide-ranging voice and Ron Mael's intricate and rhythmic keyboard playing style. They were much more successful in Europe compared to their native US, though they maintain a loyal cult following there.

Early career highlights included "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us", which reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart in 1974; the disco hit "The Number One Song in Heaven" in 1979, resulting from a collaboration with Giorgio Moroder and marking a stylistic shift towards new wave/synth-pop; "When I'm With You", which topped the Australian and French Singles Charts in 1980; the single "I Predict", which provided Sparks' first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 60 in May 1982; the 1983 single "Cool Places" with the Go-Go's rhythm guitarist and co vocalist Jane Wiedlin, and "When Do I Get to Sing 'My Way'", which was the top airplay record in Germany for 1994.

Their frequently changing styles and visual presentations have kept the band at the forefront of modern, artful pop music. The 2002 release of Lil' Beethoven, their "genre-defining opus", as well as Hello Young Lovers (2006, their 20th studio album), Exotic Creatures of the Deep (2008), and their fantasy radio musical The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman (2009–2010) brought Sparks renewed critical and commercial success, and saw them continue to "steer clear of pop conventions."

In 2015, the band released an album with Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand, as the supergroup FFS, titled FFS. In 2017, returning to a rock-group format, Sparks released Hippopotamus, which entered the UK Albums Chart at no. 7, as did their next album, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip, released in 2020, bringing their tally of UK Top 10 albums to four. Sparks are involved in two 2021 movies, their musical Annette starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard and The Sparks Brothers, a documentary about their fifty-year career directed by Edgar Wright.

In March 2021, after about a year in self-isolation (and with a planned European tour postponed until 2022 due to COVID-19), the Maels revealed on social media that they are back in Russell's home studio working on their 25th album.

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Last Edit by devastator
14th May 2021

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