232. Visage – ‘Fade To Grey’ (1980)

“Feel the rain like an English summer
Hear the notes from a distant song”

Taken from the album Visage

AUS #6, UK #8

‘Fade To Grey’, like a Cheryl Cole record, gives hope to those who have no vocal talent that they can make a good song. Perhaps even one that defines an era or a musical movement, like Visage did with this single, now rightfully regarded as an eighties classic. For the first few seconds it sound awfully cheap and tinny but once that synth riff, and then the beat, and then the vocal all kick in ‘Fade To Grey’ becomes something of a mini-symphony.

The song would go on to influence artists from Eurythmics to Kelly Osbourne (the word “influence” being used loosely there), and it’s seemingly endless catchiness and clean style would make it a synth-pop record by which all others were mentioned. Visage are often criticised for being style over substance, and for a lot of their other music that is quite justified, but not here.

The instrumental evokes the same kind of desperate boredom and monotony that ABBA’s ‘The Day Before You Came’ would do so well two years later, and the bilingual lyrics give it a worldly European feel. The simple “Ahhhhh-aaahhhh we fade to grey” hook is at once full of significance and completely meaningless, just like Visage themselves. An unexpected top ten hit in the UK and Australia, it would be their only proper hit but ensured Visgae would be remembered by electro enthsiasts for decades to come.

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