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Brothers Ron and Russell Mael from Los Angeles, USA have been making diverse music since 1969 under various incarnations of Sparks. In 1979 they ditched the guitars and keyboards of glam geek rock and started working with Italian producer Giorgio Moroder, beginning a love affair with electronic music. Since then they have worked with a variety of people including Finitribe, Les Rita Mitsouko, Erasure, Faith No More and Franz Ferdinand.
Sparks (formerly Halfnelson) is an American pop and rock duo formed by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals) in Los Angeles. Known for their quirky approach to songwriting, Sparks' music is often accompanied by sophisticated and acerbic lyrics, often about women or Shakespearean literature references, and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell's animated, hyperactive frontman antics and Ron's deadpan scowling. They are also noted for Russell Mael's distinctive wide-ranging voice and Ron Mael's intricate and rhythmic keyboard playing style. They have been much more successful in Europe than in their native US, though they maintain a loyal cult following in the States. Early career highlights included "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us", which reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart in 1974; the disco hit "The Number One Song in Heaven" in 1979, resulting from a collaboration with Giorgio Moroder and marking a stylistic shift towards new wave/synth-pop; "When I'm With You", which topped the Australian and French Singles Charts in 1980; the single "I Predict", which provided Sparks' first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 60 in May 1982; the 1983 single "Cool Places" with the Go-Go's rhythm guitarist and co vocalist Jane Wiedlin, and "When Do I Get to Sing 'My Way'", which was the top airplay record in Germany for 1994.Their frequently changing styles and visual presentations have kept the band at the forefront of modern, artful pop music. The 2002 release of Lil' Beethoven, their "genre-defining opus", as well as Hello Young Lovers (2006, their 20th studio album), Exotic Creatures of the Deep (2008), and their fantasy radio musical The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman (2009–2010) brought Sparks renewed critical and commercial success, and saw them continue to "steer clear of pop conventions".In 2015, the band released an album with Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand, as the supergroup FFS, titled FFS. In 2017, returning to a rock-group format, Sparks released Hippopotamus, which entered the UK Albums Chart at no. 7, as did their next album, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip, released in 2020, bringing their tally of UK Top 10 albums to four. Sparks are involved in two 2021 movies: the French musical Annette, starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, and The Sparks Brothers, a documentary about their fifty-year career, directed by Edgar Wright.