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NEWS 42 years of Don't You Want Me by The Human League

42 years of Don't You Want Me by The Human League

27th of November 2023, 13:00

On this day, 42 years ago, The Human League released probably one of their most iconic and commercially successful singles ‘Don't You Want Me’. It was released on 27 November 1981 as the fourth single from their third studio album Dare which was released just one month earlier. It became the Christmas number one in the UK, where it has since then sold over 1,560,000 copies, making it the 23rd-most successful single in the UK Singles Chart history.

Apparently head and voice Philip Oakey was inspired after reading a photo-story in a teen-girl's magazine. Initially they recorded and composed the song with only Oakey singing. Inspired by the film A Star Is Born Oakey decided to turn the song into a conflicting duet with one of the band's two teenage female vocalists. Susan Ann Sulley was then asked to take on the role. Until then, she and the other female vocalist, Joanne Catherall, had only been assigned backing vocals. The initial versions sounded harsher than the version that was actually released, but Virgin Records assigned producer was unhappy with them. They remixed the track, giving it a softer, and in Oakey's opinion, "poppy" sound. Oakey hated the new version and thought it would be the weakest track on Dare. In fact he disliked it so much that the track was placed as last track on the album.

The album Dare had already three of its tracks preliminary released. Each of them, ‘The Sound of the Crowd’ (April 1981), ‘Love Action (I Believe in Love)’ (July 1981), and ‘Open Your Heart’(September 1981), being relative successful singles. Virgin decided to release one more single from the album ‘Don't You Want Me. Much to the dislike of Oakey, who did not want another single to be released because he was convinced that "the public were now sick of hearing The Human League”. Oakey is also at pains to point out another misconception; “It is not a love song, but "a nasty song about sexual power politics."

Interesting tech fact, according to its creator, Roger Linn, this was the first hit song to use the LM-1 drum machine. Introduced in 1980, the LM-1 was the first programable unit that sampled real drums rather than creating them synthetically.

The promotional video, was like the song, loosely inspired on the film A Star Is Born, making Oakey, Sulley and Catherall visual icons of the early 1980s.


Don't You Want Me (Lyrics)

You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar
When I met you
I picked you out, I shook you up
And turned you around
Turned you into someone new
Now five years later on you've got the world at your feet
Success has been so easy for you
But don't forget it's me who put you where you are now
And I can put you back down too.

Don't. Don't you want me?
You know I can't believe it when I hear that you won't see me
Don't. Don't you want me?
You know I don't believe you when you say that you don't need me

It's much too late to find
When you think you've changed your mind
You'd better change it back or we will both be sorry

Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!
Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!

I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar
That much is true
But even then I knew I'd find a much better place
Either with or without you
The five years we have had have been such good at times
I still love you
But now I think it's time I lived my life on my own
I guess it's just what I must do

Don't. Don't you want me?
You know I can't believe it when I hear that you won't see me
Don't. Don't you want me?
You know I don't believe you when you say that you don't need me

It's much too late find
When you think you've changed your mind
You'd better change it back or we will both be sorry

Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!
Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!

Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!
Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!

Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!
Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh

Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!
Don't you want me, baby?
Don't you want me? Oh!

Don't You Want Me (7")

  1. "Don't You Want Me" – 3:57
  2. "Seconds" – 4:59

Don't You Want Me (12")

  1. "Don't You Want Me" – 3:57
  2. "Seconds" – 4:59
  3. "Don't You Want Me (Extended Dance Mix)" – 7:30

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