This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #168: Sweet Dreams Are Made of These by The Eurythmics.
The Eurythmics were a band comprised of singer, Annie Lennox and keyboardist, Dave Stewart. Lennox and Stewart were members of a band called, “The Tourists” that enjoyed several minor UK hits before disbanding as the decade of the 1980s was just dawning. However, the two were a couple, at that point and decided to continue to balance their personal and professional lives by starting a new band of their own. At this time, neither Stewart or Lennox were famous. Both were struggling artists and, in fact, had to finance their debut album with a bank loan. With that small loan, they bought as much music equipemnt as was possible. As part of their purchases, they invested in synthesizers (following the example set by Alison Moyet and Vince Clarke in Yaz). Like many struggling artists, it was hard to pay the bills for food and lodging. With financial pressures bearing down, Lennox and Stewart decided to break up as a couple but, to see their album through as business partners. As the two artists sat in their separate parts of the same room in their one-room flat, Dave Stewart began to channel his emotional frustrations out via his synthesizer. He started playing a strong, forceful tune that Lennox took as being directed at her. In response, she grabbed their other synthesizer and began replying in kind, with a pounding tune of her own. Taken together, these “duelling synthesizers” produced a sound that eventually ended up being the opening notes of a song we have come to know as, “Sweet Dreams Are Made of These”. Lennox recorded her vocal track with a microphone designed to record the high hat on a drum. Both Lennox and Stewart recorded the song on a bare-bones recording machine. Despite the emotions of the moment, both artists knew that they might actually have recorded a hit song. Now, all that was left for them to do was bring that song to market.
As with real estate, where the old saying of “location, location, location” remains a time-honoured maxim….in show business, the same rule applies, except, instead of location, the key ingredient is timing. Luckily for The Eurythmics, they recorded their song just as music videos were becoming popular. MTV was helping to change the way new artists brought their songs into the spotlight. So, for Lennox and Stewart, the planning that went into their music video was as important, if not, more so than the song that they had recorded, itself. I assume that many of you will be familiar with the music video for “Sweet Dreams Are Made of These”. If not, just like with Duran Duran’s videos, The Eurythmics knew that a visually-striking music video would get more attention that a straight concert video of an unknown duo so, they channeled all of their energy into the “look” they wished to present to the world. That “look” turned out to be built upon a foundation of bright colours (Annie Lennox gave herself a buzz cut and then dyed her hair bright orange/red) and gender-related fashion (which, in this case, was to cast Lennox as being sexually androgynous). Much of the appeal of the video rested on Annie Lennox’s face which, in my opinion, is classically beautiful. Lennox gave “good face”, as Madonna said in her own ode to fashion icons, “Vogue”. The combination of the close-ups of Lennox’s face, along with her power suits and the added element of a live cow (which Lennox and Stewart said held no deep meaning but was there more for whimsy that anything else) helped make the video for “Sweet Dreams Are Made of These” one of the most popular videos of all-time. It certainly went a long way toward launching their career as a duo and, in time, as solo artists of note, as well.
So, without further delay, here is one of the music videos that helped launch MTV…..”Sweet Dreams Are made of These” by The Eurythmics”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Sweet Dreams Are Made of These” by The Eurythmics, can be found here.
The link to the official website for The Eurythmics, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.