THE HISTORY OF MUSIC #9
The fifth studio album from The Police was a monster seller in all formats. Synchronicity, (pretentiously titled after a book which name-checks a term coined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung) turned these three blonds from super stars into super duper stars. The synchronicity concept—whereby two seemingly unrelated events occur simultaneously for some purpose—seemed to be a theme connecting the songs on this album. I guess. Maybe not. Ask Sting. The only evidence of this theory seems to be the two pretentiously-titled tracks “Synchronicity I” and “Synchronicity II”. In keeping with the theme as well, I suppose, are the two seemingly unrelated events of Copeland’s “Miss Gradenko” and Summer’s almost-unlistenable “Mother,” both lumped together on side A along with songs about dinosaurs, God and biscuit-taking and the aforementioned Synchronicitys. The B side delivers the goods though giving us no less than three hit songs as well as a song about desert tea drinking.
Synchronicity would become The Police's biggest selling album and their last. What do you expect? These guys were on a nonstop, whirlwind touring and recording schedule and the end was bound to come sooner or later. Allegedly, Copeland and Sting came to blows during the recording. Copeland obviously didn’t punch Sting hard enough because he was able to carry on and release such pretentiously-titled future albums like The Dream of the Blue Turtles as he became a world music and tantric dork.
A lot of critics (aka nerds) like to get bunched undies when bands featuring mostly white people incorporate different styles of the music of nonwhite people into their own. This of course ignores the fact that very little music played on this planet in the 80s or today was created in a vacuum and the origin of rock music, should they take the time to remember, was a multicultural hodgepodge of country and blues. While this fact should make them want to give up writing and actually try to enjoy music like most humans, nothing will deter them from trying to kill everyone's buzz one band at a time. (Vampire Weekend is a recent example of how this pointless argument resurfaces every few years.) They must have been relieved then when Sting opted to forgo the reggae and island rhythms of records past in favor of the more experimental approach of throwing horns at everything.
The question is whether Synchronicity deserves a place on such a high pedestal. Maybe yes, but mainly for the cultural impact it had on us back then. I will say, I was down with the Synchro in 7th grade like I was down with Thriller and Business as Usual. I rolled with the trends back then. Listening to this record many decades later, however, and after becoming a fan of earlier Police records like the pretentiously-titled Outlandos d’Amour and Reggatta de Blanc, this record is certainly not as exciting as those first efforts. Sure, it delivered the hits in spades, but it’s a dark record and kind of a bummer to listen to and nobody wants to spend that much time in Sting's head anyway. Not even Sting—Chris Auman
#1 A Flock of Seagulls
#2 Men at Work: Business As Usual
#4 Gun N Roses: GNR Lies
#5 Pat Benatar
#8 Huey Lewis & The News
#9 The Police: Synchronicity
#10 The Ramones: Too Tough to Die
#11 Thompson Twins
#12 Men at Work: Cargo
#14 Metalica: Kill Em All
#15 The Unforgiven
#16 The Cars
#17 Martha & The Muffins