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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mia Brandenburg: Are "Friends" Electric? by Gary Numan

Depending on who you know me as, my music taste is either shocking or dreadfully predictable. If you know of my love for speculative fiction (especially of a dystopian flavor) and fascination with electronic instruments, you will not be surprised that this is a favorite song of mine.

Gary Numan is, to me at least, someone I can relate to lyrically. Onstage, he appears stiff, nervous, even, and intense. Charisma as a performer is magnetic, but a lack of comfort is familiar to the more awkward among us. And I will be perfectly blunt: he isn't a great singer. But his lack of a cherubic voice makes his music; it wouldn't sound right with the voice of an operatic tenor or baritone, liberally applying vibrato and dazzling the listener with all of the auditory tricks he can perform. Numan's adolescent, nasal voice is who he is. It would be blasphemy to suggest he needs lessons, just as it would be to suggest he lightens up and writes about cotton candy and happy bunnies. And, perhaps this makes me mad, but I actually like his voice.

"Are 'Friends' Electric" was a hit of Numan's short-lived band Tubeway Army and comes off of the 1979 album ReplicasThis song arguably marks the transition from the more punk beginnings of Tubeway Army to Numan's synthpop phase in the 1980s and showcases the dystopian themes prevalent in much of his work.



 From The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1979


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