Sparks is an American pop and rock duo formed by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals) in Los Angeles. The duo is noted for their quirky approach to songwriting; their music is often accompanied by sophisticated and acerbic lyrics—often about women, and sometimes containing literary or cinematic references-- and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified by the contrast between Russell's animated, hyperactive frontman antics and Ron's deadpan scowling. Russell Mael has a distinctive wide-ranging voice, while Ron Mael plays keyboards in an intricate and rhythmic style. They have been much more successful in Europe than in their native U.S., though they maintain a loyal cult following in the States.
Career highlights include "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us", which reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart in 1974; the disco hit "The Number One Song in Heaven" in 1979, resulting from a collaboration with Giorgio Moroder and marking a stylistic shift towards new wave/synth-pop; "When I'm With You", which made the Australian and French Singles Charts in 1980; the single "I Predict", which provided Sparks' first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 60 in May 1982; the 1983 single "Cool Places" with the Go-Go's rhythm guitarist and vocalist Jane Wiedlin, and "When Do I Get to Sing 'My Way'", which was the top airplay record in Germany for 1994.
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, the duo's self-proclaimed "genre-defining opus", fused repetitive song structures with orchestral arrangements, and brought them renewed critical success. In 2015, the band released an album with Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand, as the supergroup FFS, titled FFS. In 2017, returning to a rock-group format, Sparks released Hippopotamus, which entered the UK Albums Chart at no. 7, as did their next album, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip, released in 2020, bringing their tally of UK Top 10 albums to four. In 2021, Sparks were involved in two films: the Leos Carax musical film Annette for which they wrote all songs (winning the César Award for Best Original Music), and the Edgar Wright documentary The Sparks Brothers recounting the history of the band. The band's latest album, The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte, is due to be released on May 26th 2023 via Island Records.
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