Don’t You Want Me?
The Human League
Writer(s): Jo Callis/Philip Oakley/Philip Adrian Wright (see lyrics here)
Released: November 27, 1981
First Charted: December 5, 1981
Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 42 HR, 3 GR, 3 RR, 4 AR, 1 CO, 15 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.78 UK, 2.93 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 90.0 video, 245.46 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
When recording parent album Dare!, the Human League considered their adherence to a “strict policy of synth-only sounds” LW to be very cutting edge and a much needed break from the “archaic and antique” use of guitars. SF The song, “Don’t You Want Me?,” provided a synthesizer riff as memorable as any guitar lick, TB quieting critics who condemned the instrumental tool as bland. MJ Marc Almond of Soft Cell went so far as to call the song “the greatest record of all time.” KL He wasn’t alone in his love for the song; it moved over 1.4 million copies in the UK to become the biggest seller of 1981. SF
In the US, the song was the first English synthesizer chart-topper, FB effectively launching a second British invasion, the first being helmed by the Beatles in 1964. KL That second influx of British music owed much to the launch of MTV. UK bands comprised a large chunk of the fledging music channel’s initial library, thanks to a prevalence of video shows in Europe. SF While the Human League were frequently lumped in with British New Romantic acts KL like Duran Duran, Culture Club, and Adam Ant, they really had more of a post-punk energy and were more likely to use Kraftwerk as a musical reference point. LW
The song sports a “consciously cheesy boy-girl duologue” MJ between Phil Oakley and the two female singers. That and his “emotion-free style of his singing” LW alongside a funky melodic bass line made the song a classic. LW
Oakley has stated that an article in a woman’s magazine inspired the song SF and that it is “not a love song but about power politics between two people.” SF Interestingly, Oakley had decided that the group needed women who could dance and sing backup vocals FB and so, as suggested in the song, he found them in a cocktail bar and “turned them into something new.” LW Apparently their look took precedence over all else since the pair could neither sing nor dance. TC
First posted 12/12/2011; last updated 11/22/2022.