Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Oily Robot Magic Of Giorgio Moroder

The greatest minds in all of fiction could not have invented Giorgio Moroder. He is an instant parody of himself. He is also a genius.

But Giorgio was an Italian nobody until he met up with Donna Summer in 1975. I don't know who convinced who to do what, but at the end of it all, a vaguely pornographic 17-minute long disco epic called "Love To Love You Baby" was born.

The peak years of the Summer/Giorgio (I must only call him by his first name) collaboration would need to be discussed at another time. "Last Dance," "Hot Stuff," "I Feel Love" - just get yourself a copy of On The Radio. Suffice to say, their late '70s disco hits influenced a generation of electronic artists, and Giorgio never met a synthesizer he didn't like. But alas, all good things must come to an end, and eventually disco faded.

The death of disco would have killed lesser producers. How did Giorgio survive? Like Kenny Loggins, he discovered the next best thing: movie soundtracks.

What better way to escape from a Turkish prison than to the hypnotic, throbbing sounds of "The Chase" from the Midnight Express soundtrack (a gem I might have missed if not for its inclusion on the Pitchfork 500)?

Fresh off their crossover dance hit "Heart Of Glass," Blondie suddenly got the urge for a piece of the Giorgio action. Well, they wanted Giorgio, and they got Giorgio. "Call Me," from the American Gigolo soundtrack, became the #1 Billboard hit of 1980.

Doing his part to boost the popularity of leg warmers and off-the-shoulder sweaters everywhere, Giorgio may have created the very apotheosis of Aerobic Rock in Irene Cara's #1 hit "Flashdance...What A Feeling," from the Flashdance soundtrack.

Most observers would have suggested that pairing Giorgio Moroder with the German silent classic Metropolis was not a good fit. Giorgio thought otherwise.

Finally, in 1986, Giorgio teamed up with another unlikely partner: the U.S. Air Force. Somewhere deep down in that sleazy European body of his, he found a crumb of American patriotism and let his synth flag fly. I'll tell you what takes my breath away: Giorgio Moroder's surprising love for my country, that's what.


Herr Zrbo said...

Don't forget the greatest Giorgio song of all time: the theme from the Neverending Story!

In the 90s he did a whole remix EP of KMFDM's 'Juke Joint Jezebel'.

Also, Ronan Harris said that VNV's 'Tomorrow Never Comes' was inspired by 'I Feel Love'. The connections are everywhere!

Little Earl said...

Yes, my friend, the shadow this man and his mustache cast over pop music is vast and daunting.

"I Feel Love" alone, which is usually referred to as the first completely synthesized Top 10 hit, would guarantee him some kind of place in music history. But he is one of those music producers, like Brian Eno, whose work is everywhere, and yet he is not quite a household name himself. Although he probably comes closer than most.

I feel like he disappeared from the public consciousness after the Top Gun soundtrack, but apparently, as you suggest, he was still around in the '90s, and perhaps Giorgio still abides even today.