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Sophisti-pop is a pop music subgenre that developed during the mid-1980s out of the British new wave era.[1] It originated with acts who blended elements of jazz, soul, and pop with lavish production.[2][3] The term "sophisti-pop" was coined only after the genre's peak in the mid-late 1980s.[4]


Sophisti-pop is characterized by its extensive use of electronic keyboards, synthesizers and polished arrangements.[2] Artists also utilized cutting-edge studio technology and perfectionist recording methods.[5] The genre has been described as mellow, romantic, and atmospheric,[5] with artists often adopting a sharp, well-dressed and well-groomed visual presentation.


Stylus Magazine suggested that acts had been influenced by the work of Roxy Music (such as 1982's Avalon, often cited as the first sophisti-pop album[5]) and Bryan Ferry's Bête Noire (1987) and Boys and Girls (1985).[6]

Sweetwater named major artists in the genre as including the Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout, the Style Council, Scritti Politti, Everything but the Girl, and Danny Wilson.[5] AllMusic added Simply Red, Sade, Basia, and Swing Out Sister.[2] Writer Iain Munn added to the list Level 42, the Blow Monkeys, and Joe Jackson's 1984 album Body and Soul.[7]

Its popularity declined in the 1990s along with other synth-pop sub-genres.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Terich, Jeff; Blyweiss, Adam; Bossenger, A.T.; Prickett, Sam (24 April 2014). "10 Essential Sophisti-pop albums". Treble. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Pop/Rock » Punk/New Wave » Sophisti-Pop". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  3. ^ "9 different music genres in the internet age – 2/10 – Sophisti-Pop". The Economic Times. 7 September 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  4. ^ Kirkham, Neil (2017). "Polluting young minds? Smash Hits and 'high Thatcherism'". Journal of European Popular Culture. 8 (2): 139–152. doi:10.1386/jepc.8.2.139_1. Retrieved 13 December 2018. 'Sophisti-pop' (Inskeep and Soto 2007) is a term now used, retrospectively, to describe a collection of 'intelligent', lavishly produced British pop acts of the mid–late 1980s.[dead link]
  5. ^ a b c d Jenkins, Jake (30 July 2021). "Sophisti-pop: The '80s' Most Elegant Genre". Sweetwater. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
  6. ^ Inskeep, Thomas; Soto, Alfred (22 February 2007). "The Bluffer's Guide – Sophisti-Pop". Stylus. Archived from the original on 4 September 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  7. ^ Munn, Iain (2011) [1996]. Mr. Cool's Dream: The Complete History of The Style Council. Wholepoint. p. 23. ISBN 9780955144318.

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