Sparks are an American pop and rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1972 by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals). The duo formed in 1968 under the name Halfnelson. 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 animated, hyperactive frontman antics and Ron's deadpan scowling. They are also noted for Russell Mael's distinctive falsetto voice and Ron Mael's intricate and rhythmic keyboard playing style.
While achieving chart success in various countries around the world including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy 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/synth-pop band, 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." The band also released an album with Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand, as the supergroup FFS, titled FFS, released in 2015.
Sparks are best known for the songs "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; "When I'm With You" which topped the French Singles Chart 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 backing vocalist 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.
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