The paper explores the history of the band called Depeche Mode and its influence on the world of music through the album “Violator”. The research is based on the biographical facts, interviews of critics and celebrities. The findings show that the impact Depeche Mode made on the history and development of rock music covers several aspects such as performance and singing style, provocation in lyrics and all-synthesized approach to music production. The report notices that multiple artists officially admit being under the influence of Depeche Mode’s music.
Depeche Mode, “Violator” 1990
The sounds of the melodies contained in this album have been loved and admired by millions of appreciators of English electronic music and rock fans all around the world for over twenty years. The fame of Depeche Mode is phenomenal. This band is considered as one of the classics of rock of all generations for a reason. Depeche Mode was on the top of success for years, they started to gather stadiums of people in the 80s. The music of this band blew up England and the US and became a strong and significant part of the massive wave of electronic rock addiction.
The band’s creations dwelled on the tops of the music charts all over the world for years. The sounds of songs like “Enjoy the Silence” still make the rock fans of all generations give a deep breath of pleasure and the initial beat of “Personal Jesus” causes a wave to hysterical screaming and excitation. During the history of the development of this band its members have been through some heavy negative experiences, yet this did not influence their productivity and the quality of their music.
Depeche Mode is famous for its special style, and of course, for the very outstanding manner of Dave Gahan’s singing and the beauty of his deep and low voice. The album called “Violator”, which was released in 1990, has employed a new and prominent wave of Depeche Mode’s popularity all over the world, and it has made an impact on electronic, alternative dance, alternative rock and pop music of the following generations.
The band began its journey towards the success in 1980s. Back then Depeche Mode were a quartet and their initial style of performance was nothing like the Depeche Mode we know today. In the very beginning of their career the members of this band used to play bouncy and cheerful dance-pop music (Ankeny 2014). After a while the band’s style evolved and brought them towards a new and more interesting look. Depeche Mode eventually developed its traditional dark sounding filled with dramatic romance and driven by angst.
The four members of Depeche Mode of the 80s were Vince Clark, Andy Fletcher, Martin Gore, and Dave Gahan. One of this band’s significant features was its devotion to the technological progress in the field of music production. The members of Depeche Mode preferred to play synthesized music, which means, they refused to use conventional musical instruments and replaced their sounds with the all-synthesizer music (Lamb 2014). Eventually, more bands started to favor this approach and play electronic music that started to gain its massive popularity in the beginning of 1980s.
The first single created by Depeche Mode saw the world in 1981; it was called “Dreaming of Me” and did not have much success. The next two hits were met with more appreciation. For example, the third hit released by Depeche Mode broke through to the British Top ten; the song’s name was “Just Can’t Get Enough”. The first year of the band’s existence brought more changes when all of a sudden Vince Clarke, who was the band’s leading songwriter, decided to leave Depeche Mode.
The band quickly replaced Clarke with Alan Wilder, and Martin Gore took the position of the primary songwriter. It is important to notice that Martin Gore fit perfectly into his new role in the band, his lyrics evolved over the years. In 1982 he delivered “A Broken Frame”, in 1983 – “Construction Time Again” and in 1984 he wrote “Some Great Reward”, the song that served as a breakthrough in the commercial and artistic levels (About Depeche Mode 2014).
The cause of such massive success of “Violator” might be the fact that the band’s collective decision was to make something different. The members of the band admitted that they started to experience some kind of boredom due to the fact that the work process that accompanied the release of every single hit was exactly the same. The musicians were tired of the standard formula and wanted to make changes, add more creativity and spontaneity to the process of songwriting and recording.
Besides, the new decade was about to begin, the members of Depeche Mode felt that the 90s had to start a new page in their careers and the band’s history. The innovations the band employed while working on “Violator” were multiple and different. For example, the musicians decided to divide the roles strictly, so that every member would be involved into their own creative work.
The sounding was also altered; song textures and sparse demos were changed in order to allow the musicians to be more creative. Moreover, the band started to co-operate with the new producer, Mark “Flood” Ellis. The album’s title is also a result of the band’s creativity. This argumentative name was actually not serious, the members called their new album that way as a joke, trying to see how this little provocation would affect the audience. The critics met “Violator” with a great deal of doubts and discussions.
The album was not complimented much. The professionals did not enjoy the pop rhythms added to the style of the band. Besides, the contradictory lyrics and sometimes very open-minded hints were criticized. Despite all the remarks and criticism, the album and some of its songs have cemented the band’s name into the history of rock forever. It was the first album released by Depeche Mode that sold millions of copies.
The album consists of nine songs and they are placed in a way that allows the composition have several peaks and interchange the sounding from more rhythmic pop melodies to romantic and dramatic songs. This creates a kind of an intrigue; the diversity of the album allows it to keep the listeners interested. The Rolling Stone noticed that the album has its “ambient charm”, yet it was also stated that the general sounding of the album seems very sad (Eddy 1990). Depeche Mode’s style and Gahan’s singing namely caused many contradictions.
The public was fond of the front man of Depeche Mode, Dave quickly became a sex symbol of a generation, but the critics disagreed strongly and called his manner of singing nothing but a moan. “World in My Eyes” opens “Violator” with its positive statement about the best pleasures of life. The band considered this song an anthem for their lifestyle; it is a well known fact that the members of Depeche Mode were big fans of parties. “Halo” and “Blue Dress” are the songs with provocative contexts, though they definitely have their fans.
“Personal Jesus” was the song that won millions of hearts and immediately became the most recognizable song of the band. “Enjoy the Silence” with its lyrical and romantic sounding became the hymn of the generation. The album “Violator” successfully managed to mix together dramatic and life loving moods, pain and pleasure, dance and rock music. The album was definitely a new step for each of the members of Depeche Mode, it changed their lives forever and it created the history of the band and played a significant part in the history of rock music.
The album’s most memorable song called “Personal Jesus” did not lose its popularity over time, on the contrary – it gained some very famous fans. The song was covered by several well known singers, among them are Marilyn Manson and Hilary Duff. Dave Gahan’s well known singing manner was adopted by Coldplay, Moby, Rammstein. Besides, the artists that admit being inspired by the creations of Depeche Mode are Shakira, Placebo, Linkin Park and Pet Shop Boys. The history of Depeche Mode is a perfect example of a star band of the 90s. They gave a push to a popular style of provocation; their music videos are abstract and non-dynamic. Their front man was known for having a drug addiction and going through a rehab. Yet, Dave Gahan’s charisma has a right to be called another history making feature about Depeche Mode.
The band’s footprint in the rock history is determined by their special style that anyone can recognize just by hearing first beats of the melody. This unusual style proved to be very attractive, this is why so many artists respect and follow the fame of Depeche Mode, they are trying to grasp the secret that served as the key element of the band’s massive success.
About Depeche Mode. (2014).
Ankeny, J. (2014). Artist Biography.
Eddy, C. (1990). Depeche Mode: Violator.
Lamb, B. (2014). Depeche Mode.