Über Tears for Fears
Although they came of age in the days of Wang Chung and Kajagoogoo, there was always something more substantial to Tears For Fears' brand of synth-pop. If there are godfathers of adult alternative music, they're Tears For Fears. The bleak, echoing piano on "Mad World" was most everyone's first glimpse into the emotional abstraction of Roland Orzabal's songwriting and Curt Smith's soul-inspired vocals. With 1985's Songs From The Big Chair, the group entered the big leagues thanks to hits such as "Shout," "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Head Over Heels." Each one was an intricately arranged tune that deservedly rose to the top of the charts on a blend of soul, technology and smarts. The follow-up came four years later, and they began to get a bit too smart, throwing in elements of jazz and a somewhat overwhelming Beatles fetish. Curt Smith left the band in 1992, leaving Orzabel with the group's name. Records followed, including the unforgivably titled Raoul & the Kings of Spain, but none captured the public's attention in quite the same way. Despite the duo's strong differences, they were able to patch things up in 2004 for Everyone Loves a Happy Ending, a strong, tuneful record that put them back in critical favor.