Sparks (US rock and pop duo, The Mael Brothers)
Sparks is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1971 by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals), renamed from Halfnelson, formed in 1968. Known for their quirky approach to songwriting, Sparks' music is often accompanied by intelligent, sophisticated, and acerbic lyrics, and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell's wide-eyed hyperactive frontman antics and Ron's sedentary scowling. They are also noted for Russell Mael's falsetto voice and Ron Mael's keyboard style.
Although the band's long career has led some to regard them as precursors of many different musical genres, including glam rock, new wave, synthpop, electronica, and most recently chamber pop, it is just as plausible that Sparks have created their own unique musical universe. While achieving chart success in various countries around the world including United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the United States, they have enjoyed a cult following since their first releases. During the late 1970s, when in collaboration with Giorgio Moroder (and Telex subsequently), Sparks reinvented themselves as a new wave/synthpop duo, and abandoned the traditional rock band line up. 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-defying opus", as well as the more recent albums Hello Young Lovers (2006, their 20th studio album), Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (2008), and their latest fantasy musical The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman (2009–2010) have brought Sparks renewed critical and commercial success, and seen them continue to "steer clear of pop conventions."
Sparks are best known for the songs "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us", which reached number 2 in the British charts in 1974, the electronic hit "The Number One Song in Heaven" in 1979, "When I'm With You" which topped the French Charts in 1980, the single "I Predict" became Sparks' first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #60 in May 1982; the 1984 single "Cool Places" with Go-Go Jane Wiedlin, and "When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way'" which topped the German and European charts in 1994/95 and was the top airplay record in Germany for 1994.