Articles Comments

» 1980s » Cars – Gary Numan

Cars – Gary Numan

When “Cars” by Gary Numan was released in 1979, it sounded like nothing else on the pop charts. Cold. Mechanistic. Monotone. With a killer synthesized bass hook and a melody line that gets in your head and will not leave until you force it out by listening to the whistling theme from the Andy Griffith Show or perhaps the them from American Idol.

“Cars” was a massive contrast to the over-produced disco of the day or even the new synthesized sounds. Compare it to the joyous synthesized sounds of “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. that was a #1 hit in May 1980 to hear the difference. And it didn’t sound like the synthesized novelty sounds of “Pop Muzik” by M either, a #1 hit in 1979.

But it took hold and became an unlikely hit that reached #9 on the Billboard Top 40 in the summer of 1980.

Listen to “Cars” by Gary Numan

Gary-Numan-Cars.mp3

You can hear the influence of Giorgio Moroder’s synthesizer stylings (heard on Donna Summer’s early hits like “I Feel Love” and “Love to Love You Baby” on Numan’s style. And you can hear the influence of Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn” from 1974 on Newman. Discuss amongst yourselves, please.

Listen to “Computer World” by Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk-Computer-World.mp3

That’s pretty amazing when you consider that Numan was a socially inept (later self-diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome) twenty-one-year-old guy who still lived with his parents when “Cars” was riding high on the charts.

Numan never went on to great commercial success in the United States but had tons of hits in the United Kingdom and is a critical darling to fans including Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters. And he’s still playing music and has released 16 albums since 1979’s Pleasure Principle.

Not a bad career for a one-hit wonder poster child.

Click to read “Cars” lyrics

“Cars” video by Gary Numan

Written by

I'm an obsessive music collector, cataloger, commenter and trivia nut. Sometimes I'm even a listener. One-hit wonders have always been a guilty pleasure.

Filed under: 1980s · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to "Cars – Gary Numan"

  1. Matt Thurston says:

    I’ve been listening to Trent Reznor (and Atticus Ross)’s score to The Social Network. Great stuff, especially in the context of the film. Honestly though, it’s just vintage Gary Numan with more updated synthesizers.

    As for Numan, my favorite impress-my-friends 12″ record of the late 80s was “Change Your Mind,” a collaboration between Gary Numan and Bill Sharpe. (Also check out “New Thing From London Town” by Sharpe & Numan.) “Change Your Mind” is just a classic Numan synth track that reminds me a bit of early Ministry (i.e. Everyday is Halloween).

    Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72xDkQzwl7U&feature=related

  2. KG says:

    The British media hated Numan as they saw him as a blatant plagiarist of David Bowie.

  3. Jesco says:

    In what universe was Gary Numan a ‘one hit wonder’? He’s one of the few artists to have multiple albums in the charts at the same time and had many hit singles.

    “Numan never went on to great commercial success”. See above again.

    I’m baffled how or why you would compare Numan to disco?????????

    You’re also wrong about Numan influencing Kraftwerk – they hated Gary Numan…

    Also quite a stretch to say Moroder influenced Numan. Well, frankly, he didn’t at all.

    Maybe you should stick to critiquing American artists…

  4. Michael Waterman says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful response, Jesco. Gary Numan is a one-hit wonder on the Billboard Top 40. That’s the benchmark for toponehitwonders.com. However, I’ve updated the article to read: Numan never went on to great commercial success in the United States but had tons of hits in the United Kingdom and is a critical darling to fans including Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters.”

    I also deleted the line about Numan influencing Kraftwerk. It’s a stretch. I’m not certain Moroder didn’t influence Numan, however. We’ll never know for sure.

Leave a Reply