Thursday, September 18, 2014


The Human League may be best known for their #1 hit Don't You Want Me, but their influence on modern electronic music is actually quite important. Formed initially in 1977 in Sheffield, the group was originally an all-male, avant-garde, synth band. After gaining some momentum through innovative live performances and touring as the opening act for Iggy Pop in 1979, two of the founding members, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, left the group when lead singer Philip Oakey insisted on incorporating more pop elements into their electronic sound. Retaining the name The Human League, Oakley had only a few weeks to enlist more members into the group to go on tour for their now record label, Virgin. While out scouting for a female backup singer/dancer to join him on tour, Oakey went to the Crazy Daisy Nightclub on High Street and saw two young girls dancing with abandon and immediately, without asking for any performing experience, asked them to join him on tour as backup singers and dancers. From that time to date Susan Anne Sulley and Joanne Catherall, then 17 and 18 respectively, have been an integral part of The Human League. After touring and releasing two singles from their 1981 #1 album Dare!, the UK #3 Love Action (I Believe In Love) and UK #6 Open Your Heart,  record execs were keen to release one more single from the album to capitalize on the band's growing popularity. They chose the album track Don't You Want Me as the fourth single over Oakey's objection. He thought the track was weak and would damage the band's image. A very expensive (for the time) video was shot for the track and the rest is history. The song hit #1 on the UK charts over Christmas 1981 and later in 1982 hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the US as well. What followed was a string of eclectic, dramatic and singular songs that were groundbreaking in their sound and influence: Mirror Man (#2 UK, #30 US), (Keep Feeling) Fascination (#2 UK, #8 US), and even another US #1 with the Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced Human (#8 UK). The band has stayed together, even posting more songs on the charts with 1990's Heart Like a Wheel (#29 UK, #32 US) and 1995's Tell Me When (#6 UK, #31 US). The group's last full album of original songs, Credo, was released in 2011 and received favorable reviews from critics but The Human League will more than likely be remembered for their fantastic 80s/90s output, and that is nothing to sneeze at. Such artists as Utah Saints, Ministry of Sound, Craig David, George Michael, KMFDM and Robbie Williams have all cited The Human League as influences on their work. I'd say that is a legacy that will keep running for a long, long time. Here are some of The Human League's biggest hits and best videos. Enjoy!!!

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