Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – “Enola Gay” (1980) (Singles Going Steady Classic)

"Enola Gay" is perhaps the quintessential embodiment of OMD's sound -- a romantic epic told through two alternating, and often intersecting, synthpop riffs.

John Bergstrom: ’80s pop and especially ’80s synthpop takes a lot of flack, much of it deserved. But “Enola Gay” is a resounding refutation of the notion nothing substantial, beautiful, or timeless could ever come from skinny English guys with synths, though the live rhythm section is essential to the song’s power, too. Andy McCluskey’s stunner is a lament for the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb, and you can feel the dizzy, Tilt-A-Whirl hook willing itself back to a simpler, less terrifying time. The production is spot-on, having aged remarkably well. And as McCluskey demonstrates, you could skip the wistful melancholy and (nerd) dance to “Enola Gay” just as easily. Everything a classic should be. [10/10]

Emmanuel Elone: For an ’80s electronic song, “Enola Gay” is still more layered and sophisticated than many electronic songs coming out today. Not only is the rhythm tight, but the synths and melodies float sweetly over the percussion. Andy McCluskey’s vocals sound great as well, and are enhanced by the great electronic beat behind him. However, underneath this upbeat song is a dark reference to the World War II bombing of Hiroshima, as McCluskey croons “Enola Gay / You should have stayed at home yesterday / Ah-ha words can’t describe/ T he feeling and the way you lied”. It’s easily one of the few electronic songs that has a topical/political underbelly, and it is somewhat a shame that the beat overpowers the message at times. Besides that, “Enola Gay” is a sweet electronic song that’s textured, layered and multi-dimensional, making it a song that almost everyone can find something to enjoy. [9/10]

Pryor Stroud: In the popular consciousness, the vanguard of ’80s synthpop is typically composed by the likes of the Human League, Tears for Fears, and Depeche Mode. Rarely, if ever, is OMD mentioned. Yet their influence on the genre — now and then — is incalculable: Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey’s soaring yet racked-with-pain synthesizer melodies and soft-spoken vocals set a sonic and thematic precedent that remains firmly intact today. “Enola Gay” is perhaps the quintessential embodiment of their sound — a romantic epic told through two alternating, and often intersecting, synthpop riffs, one a revolving premonition and the other an ecstatic burst of shimmering nostalgia. [9/10]

Chris Ingalls: Full disclosure: my first experience with this song was hearing the live version off the soundtrack of the 1980 live concert documentary “Urgh! A Music War”, but I usually skipped the song in order to hear XTC’s “Respectable Street.” One of OMD’s better known (and earlier) songs, it’s still fun to hear decades later. OMD became one of those synth outfits perfect for a John Hughes soundtrack, and the sound definitely recalls the ’80s heyday of fellow plastic pop earworm titans Erasure. Bouncier than New Order, a lot less gloomy than Depeche Mode, more dancefloor-friendly than Thomas Dolby, the song is fun and catchy but has too much going for it to be simply dismissed as a dance single. Frothy and catchy, but also very layered and mature. If that makes sense. [9/10]

Chad Miller: Really nice political music. There’s a really interesting schism between the feelings that the vocals and the synths inspire throughout the piece. Understandably and perhaps due to the success of the single, it doesn’t sound that fresh 36 years past its release though. [8/10]

Jordan Blum: I’ve heard a lot about this band over the years. It’s an interesting blend of ’80s pop and techno, and I’m glad that there’s an actual song here, too [haha]. I prefer some other acts from the era, but this is interesting for sure, and I can definitely see how it probably influenced a fair amount of modern stuff. The video isn’t anything special, though; really, it feels too homemade, like something a bunch of amateurs would make at their local Make Your Own Music Video outlet. Granted, it worked for the time, but that’s how i see it now. [7/10]

SCORE: 8.67