The First Synthpop Song, Part Three

Published on November 29th, 2008 in: Issues, Music, Pop Culture Holy Grail, Retrovirus |

By Less Lee Moore

In the July/August 2008 issue of Popshifter, I attempted to answer the question, “What was the first synthop song?” Not being able to resolve the quandary quite so easily in one article, I delved further into the issue in our September/October issue.

chicory tip bbc
Chicory Tip
Photo © BBC’s Top Of The Pops

The band Chicory Tip is most well known for “Son of my Father,” which reached Number One in the UK Singles Chart in February of 1972. It stayed there for three weeks and according to its Wikipedia entry, “it was one of the first hit singles to prominently feature a moog [sic] synthesizer.” (1)

Yet Chicory Tip didn’t write “Son of my Father.” That credit appears to go to Giorgio Moroder, the synthesizer pioneer, who has worked with Donna Summer, Blondie, Sparks, and tons of other artists throughout the last four decades.

But there is a bit of controversy regarding Moroder’s contributions to “Son of my Father” and the discussion among music geeks regarding who actually wrote the song and made it famous runs rampant on the Internet (big surprise, I know).

The Freaky Trigger blog references a “running joke,” which states that, “Chicory Tip invented techno,” adding, “but even if you can’t hear that strand of tomorrow in ‘Son,’ you can locate signposts to many other routes synths in pop took.” A bold claim, to be sure. (2)

The video for the song on YouTube, also sparks some disagreements. One commenter (twilightdimension) vaguely recalls “some other pop band” who performed the song. ILUUVROXYMUSIC says, “Giorgio Moroder did the original version of this. chicory tip version is a cover.” (3)

Yet it’s a user named horarwgt who gets into the nitty gritty:

Moroder’s version, credited simply to “Giorgio,” reached #46 in the U.S. in the spring of 1972 but never charted in England. Chicory Tip’s cover, though, reached #1 in the UK — and only #91 in the U.S., where it was crrdited [sic] to simple [sic] “Chicory.” Great song, nonetheless and yes, it and Hot Butter’s 1972 “Popcorn” were the first big synth hits. Hot Butter’s, though, was ALL synth. (4)

Another user named Widdi88 adds:

Great 70s track, but the first version was actually made by Michael Holm, a german singer. Second and first english was done by Giorgio Moroder from South Tyrol, Italy in 1971. And this is the third version of the track. But great and not too dusty, considering being any of those three Versions from early 70s (1970-72) (5)

Wait a minute! Who is this Michael Holm person? And did he actually write the song?

michael holm 1973
Michael Holm in 1973

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6 Responses to “The First Synthpop Song, Part Three”

  1. jemiah:
    December 12th, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    “popcorn” is brilliant.

  2. Popshifter » The First Synthpop Song, Part One:
    December 30th, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    […] Read Part Two here. Read Part Three here. […]

  3. Names:
    October 13th, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Just downloaded the Gershon Kingsley original version after reading your article. Awesome. I used to buy stuff like Electric Tommy and Electronic Hair Pieces in those days, while my schoolfriends were into Led Zep and CCR. Dunno how I missed this seminal piece of electronica!

  4. Popshifter:
    October 13th, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you finally got to hear the song!


  5. Dar:
    October 20th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Good three articles, but the approach is flawed.

    The “pop” in “synthpop” may come from “popular”, but it doesn’t mean it has to be “popular” in the sense of chart-hit. Rather, it just means of a “popular sound” or type.

    And a “synth” song isn’t just any song that uses synth, rather it’s one that is driven by electronic sounds, distinct from the “rock” or “r&b” or “country” formulas.

    “Song of my father” thus isn’t even a synth song; it’s just a rock song using some synths in the background.

    Also, there is a distinction between “synthpop” and “electronic pop”. The latter is the over-arching genre of electronic instruments’-driven songs, primarily started by Kraftwerk in the early 70’s.

    “Synthpop” is a sub-genre that came later and includes post-punk and avant-gard influences, started primarily in the UK with groups like The Human league and OMD and YMO (in Japan).

  6. Popshifter:
    October 20th, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    You are certainly free to write your own series of articles on “the first synthpop song.” Looks like you’ve already developed a thesis, so you’re off to a good start.


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