“Computer Love” by Zapp featuring Charlie Wilson and Shirley Murdock (1985)

Technology can do many things, but it can’t get you off. It can provide assistance, of course. But it can’t induce orgasm, and it certainly can’t curl up next to you in bed. At least not yet. You still need a flesh-and-blood human, whether you’re hitting the sheets with your honey or hitting the sheets with your own hands.

Zapp’s electro-funk slow jam “Computer Love” is prescient in that it predicts the rise of internet technology (and online dating) a decade before these things became reality for most Americans.

Prescience aside, It’s a winning song because even with all the lyric talk about digital love and technological fooling around, with all of the synthesized bleeps and blurbs, and Roger Troutman’s talkbox-assisted vocalizing, the heart of “Computer Love” comes from the flesh-and-blood voices of The Gap Band’s Charlie Wilson and Zapp protege Shirley Murdock (whose solo career would temporarily eclipse Zapp’s in a year’s time). The interplay between Murdock and Wilson’s voices alongside Troutman’s vocoder was incredibly unique.

Zapp was synonymous with Roger Troutman’s talkbox escapades. That unique accessory is a large part of why he and Zapp were so successful, and I’m kind of in awe at the fact that he was able to sustain a 20 year long career while leaning so hard on that one fairly limiting gimmick. Good songs certainly help, and while Zapp is mostly known for extended funk vamps, “Computer Love” is a great song from top to bottom.

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