The anachronistic disco-man from down under returns to the spotlight.
There aren’t many decades that have been as despised and frowned upon as the 80’s. There are a lot of things to say about legwarmers, perms, blockbusters and Gordon Gecko-like cocaine addicts, but cool has never been one of them. In fact, ever since the day the 80’s turned into the 90’s, the decade hasn’t been good for much except for having an excuse to throw awful parties where neon leggings and too much make-up are standard components.
But was it really all that terrible? After all, the 80’s was a time when some of the most loved music in the world was created. It was the years of Michael Jackson, Rick James, Madonna, Iron Maiden, MTV, Queen, A Tribe Called Quest, George Michael, The Smiths and Prince (among a very long list of others). Isn’t it time to reconcile with the fact that even though the fashion never was great, the music was? Of course the music was never forgotten, but it could be argued that this summer’s collective obsession with all things Stranger Things sparked a revolution where the synth returned as the most revered instrument in studios all over the globe.
Someone who really appreciates the 80’s sound (and fashion, for that matter) is Donny Benét, who returns with a new single “Working Out”, his first since 2013’s collaborative album Weekend at Donny’s and his first solo single to come out since 2012’s Electric Love. And just like on his previous releases, Australian native Benét really doesn’t shy away from the 80’s. On the contrary, “Working Out” is completely sprinkled with synths, saxophones (think “Baker Street”) and Miami Vice vibes, and the video does its best not to play these feelings down.
Just like in Benét’s previous releases, humour gets to play a role in “Working Out”, in terms of lyrics as well as the video. They’re both heavily ironic and makes fun at the modern obsession with healthy living that’s got people using the most unorthodox methods to burn some calories. But even if there’s an undertone of humour in his musicianship, Benét is deadly serious about producing tracks with high quality. In his studio Donnyland Studios, where he produces most of his output, Benét enjoys the company of tons of analogue synths that help recreate that Southern European disco vibe of the 70’s and 80’s, and give the songs that nostalgic flair that make them work in a modern setting.
His enormous supply of vintage synths isn’t all thanks to himself though. Donny Benét’s father Antionio Giacomelli Benét was a moderately famous italo-disco piano accordion and bass player in the old country, before relocating to Australia. With him, he brought a ton of synths and schooled his son in all the instruments.
Needless to say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. It’s almost like Benét was born and raised to build on his father’s legacy by producing music with those cult italo-disco influences, mix them up with a little Giorgio Moroder and Prince, and take them into the 21st century. All in all, “Working Out” is a tribute to all things that made the 80’s great. The funky music played on analogue synthesizers and drum machines, the oversized pink suit and the humour all come together to create that feeling of just enjoying yourself and shamelessly indulging in all the things that make life good. And there’s nothing that isn’t cool about that, right?
Benét’s new album will drop later this year, so if you want to keep up with what he gets up to, we suggest you follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can also listen to more of his music on Soundcloud, Spotify and Bandcamp.