Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) are an English electronic band formed in Wirral, Merseyside, in 1978. The group consists of co-founders Andy McCluskey (vocals, bass guitar) and Paul Humphreys (keyboards, vocals), along with Martin Cooper (keyboards, saxophone) and Stuart Kershaw (drums); McCluskey has been the only constant member. Regarded as pioneers of electronic music, OMD combined an experimental, minimalist ethos with pop sensibilities, becoming key figures in the late-1970s/early-1980s emergence of synth-pop. The band were also one of the original acts involved in the MTV-driven Second British Invasion of the US.
McCluskey and Humphreys led precursor group the Id from 1977–1978, and re-recorded their track "Electricity" as OMD's debut single in 1979. Weathering an "uncool" image and a degree of hostility from music critics, the band achieved popularity throughout Europe with the 1980 anti-war song "Enola Gay", and gained further recognition via Architecture & Morality (1981) and its three hit singles. Although later reappraised, Dazzle Ships (1983) was seen as overly experimental, and eroded European support. The group embraced a more radio-friendly sound on Junk Culture (1984); this change in direction led to greater success in the United States, and spawned hits including "If You Leave" (from the 1986 film Pretty in Pink).
In 1989, creative differences saw Humphreys and other members form the spin-off band the Listening Pool, leaving McCluskey the only remaining member of OMD. The group returned with a new line-up and explored the dance-pop genre: Sugar Tax (1991) and its initial singles were hits in Europe. OMD then began to flounder amid the guitar-oriented grunge and Britpop movements, eventually disbanding in 1996. McCluskey later conceived girl group Atomic Kitten, for whom he served as a principal songwriter, while Humphreys formed the duo Onetwo alongside Propaganda vocalist Claudia Brücken.
In 2006, OMD reformed with Humphreys and McCluskey revisiting the experimental territory of their early work; the band have achieved 13 top-20 entries on the UK Albums Chart. Their 20th century output yielded 18 top-40 appearances on the UK Singles Chart, as well as four top-40 entries on the US Billboard Hot 100. Although sometimes identified as a cult band, OMD have sold over 40 million records worldwide, and have influenced many artists across diverse genres and disciplines.
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