Sparks is an American rock and pop band formed in Los Angeles in 1968 by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals), initially under the name Halfnelson. Best known for their quirky approach to songwriting, Sparks'' music is often accompanied by intelligent, sophisticated, and acerbic lyrics, and an idiosyncratic, theatrical stage presence, typified in the contrast between Russell''s wide-eyed hyperactive frontman antics and Ron''s sedentary scowling. Starting with their masterwork, "Lil'' Beethoven" in 2001, the band began performing their albums in their entirety. 2008 saw the band perform all 21 of their albums in successive nights at the Islington Academy and Shepherd''s Bush Empire in London. Though the band''s long career has seen them successfully pioneer many different musical genres; including glam pop, power pop, electronic dance music, mainstream pop and most recently chamber pop, Sparks have created their own unique musical universe. While achieving chart success in various countries around the world including United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the United States, they have enjoyed a cult following since their first releases. Sparks have been highly influential on the development of popular music, in particular on the late 1970s scene, when in collaboration with Giorgio Moroder (and Telex subsequently), they reinvented themselves as an electronic pop duo, and abandoned the traditional rock band line up. Their frequently changing styles and visual presentations have kept the band at the forefront of modern, artful pop music. They are held in esteem by such bands and performers as Morrissey, Kurt Cobain, Franz Ferdinand, Arcade Fire, Fang Island, Ott, MGMT, Sonic Youth, Ramones, Duran Duran, Bjork, Depeche Mode, New Order, Def Leppard, Faith No More, The Pixies, Ween, Mark Burgess of the Chameleons and They Might Be Giants, all of whom cite Sparks as a major influence.