Retro spin: The Fixx’s 1983 album “Reach the Beach”

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At this point in history, most audiences are used to commercials using popular songs to either underscore the theme of the advertisement, or to get viewers’ attention, or both. Sometimes, though, a surprise comes in the form of a song that some listeners haven’t heard in a while. Case in point, “Saved by Zero” by The Fixx, from their 1983 album “Reach the Beach.”

“Saved by Zero” is used in a recent commercial by Fidelity Investments. The song with its partially chanted chorus, heavy mix of guitar and keyboard makes the song stand out. “Saved by Zero” isn’t the only song from “Reach the Beach” that made an impact on America’s early 1980’s soundscape. “One Thing Leads to Another,” was a stylish, synth-rich single that discussed betrayals and consequences. The video featured the well-dressed lead singer, Cy Curnin, and angry doberman pinschers.

The group is also labeled as a rock band, depending on the online organization. However, “rock band” misses the nuances offered by the work of The Fixx.

“Saved by Zero” by The Fixx

The song itself is characterized by rhetorical questions (“Who needs to win?”) that are responded to by the chorus. The soundscape is atmospheric. The sound is not really typical of new wave bands, but the obvious synthesizer presence does all The Fixx to be categorized as a new wave band. The synth was used to accent the somewhat jumpy guitar mixed with bass that runs throughout the song. Despite its arguably melancholy sound, the song’s point is that “zero” is a nice place to be – – without material things, just a focus on the spiritual, or at least with no material stuff left to lose.

The lyrics, besides the rhetorical questions, are poetic, if not necessarily straightforward, but they work with the feel of the mid-tempo song. Its use in the investment firm commercial probably has to do with the prominent placement of the word “zero.”

Fidelity Investments is not the only company to use “Saved by Zero.” the song also appeared in a Toyota commercial several years ago, and was featured in the show “Breaking Bad.”

“Reach the Beach” an album by The Fixx

“Reach the Beach” is actually The Fixx’s second album. The strength of the singles “One Thing Leads to Another” and “Saved by Zero” propelled the second album higher up the charts. “Reach the Beach” made it to No. 8 on Billboard. The singles fared just as well. “Saved by Zero” reached No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 9 on the US Top Rock Tracks chart. The album’s other popular single, “One Thing Leads to Another,” went to No. 4 on Billboard Hot 100. However, it reached No. 2 on the US Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and went all the way to No. 1 in Canada.

In some ways, “Reach the Beach” and its most famous singles are perfect examples of the new wave movement. Released in 1983, the album and its singles used synth, guitar and bass to make unique songs that captured big ideas and presented the in ways that engaged postmodern audiences.

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