Are you a fan of electronic music and want to diversify your playlist by including an English synth-pop band? You’ve come to the right place. We recommend you try listening to The Human League, a band formed in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, in 1977. One unique thing worth mentioning about this band is that it started as an electronic-focused band group. Initially, two band members, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, were computer geeks. Their IT prowess bore fruits resulting in a combination of pop music. By that time, electronic parts were affordable for struggling budding musicians. “According to Wikipedia” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_League), the two bought a Korg synthesizer and applied their tech-savvy knowledge to operate it. The rest is history. Here are the ten best songs they’ve released over the years:
10. “Heart Like a Wheel” (Romantic? -1990)
“Heart Like a Wheel” was written by ex-band member Jo Callis and The Rezillos’ Eugene Reynolds. The band recorded it at Genetic Sound Studios in 1990 before releasing it in the UK. The song peaked at 29 in the UK, 32 in the US, and 64 in Australia.
9. “Human” (Crash-1986)
“According to The Guardian” (https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2016/aug/03/human-league-10-of-the-best), the Human League established a strong music relationship with the likes of Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson, the SOS Band, and Change, and Jimmy jam by 1986. They were so talented in electronic music that almost any musician would’ve tried anything to collaborate with them. Unfortunately, they weren’t used to working with other musicians, resulting in a fallout with Lewis and Jam due to the songs’ directions. Eventually, Wright left the band, but that didn’t deter “Human” from becoming an instant hit in the US for years.
8. “Tell Me When” (Octopus-1995)
Octopus was the Human League’s seventh album with its first single, “Tell Me When.” Originally, the song’s writers were interested in an act titled “First Arithmetic.” The band commercially released it in the UK after four years. Many people have often considered it the reason the band disbanded in 1990. Despite these rumors, it peaked at 31 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and fourth on the UK Dance (OCC). Several countries in Europe ranked in the Top 50.
7. “Being Boiled” (The Verschwende Deine Jugend soundtrack- 1979)
Unbelievable as this may sound, Martyn Ware, the founder of the Human League group, admitted that they spent three euros on “Being Boiled.” They spent the money on a tape recorder, microphone, and two synthesizers. So, they used these instruments in an abandoned factory room to record this song. Sources reveal that the murderer, Gary Gilmore’s final utterances “Ok. Ready. Let’s do it” before his death in 1977 inspired the song’s first line. Initially, the recorded version peaked at 55 on the charts. In 1982, it rose to number six after making a few changes. The band has released it many times since 1979.
6. “Open Your Heart” (Dare- 1981)
The Human League’s third album, Dare, featured amazing pop songs, with “Open Your Heart” as its third single. The album topped the UK Albums Chart and received triple platinum certification by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). The song peaked at six in the UK after the band made a high-end promotional video.
5. “Love is All That Matters” (Crash- 1986)
Though the Human League released “Love is All That Matters” for Crash in 1986, it took them two more years to use it to promote their Greatest Hits album. Like most songs on this list, it was a romantic song targeting the US market. That was after the first single from Crash topped the UK charts. However, this song peaked at 41 in the UK, leading to low sales. This prevented the band from featuring other songs on the album.
4. “The Things Dreams Are Made Of” (Dare- 1981)
Originally, The Human League released “The Things Dreams Are Made Of” for their Dare album. In 2008, they remixed, remastered, and released it as a dance EP single. As a result, it peaked at two on the UK Dance chart in February of the same year. Produced by Martin Rushent, the track describes simple, pleasurable moments perceived as great ambitions. In 1982, BBC2’s The Young Ones used it on their episode, “Interesting. Also, it was played in the first scene of the 1982 film Longtime Companion. The film addressed the AIDS epidemic that wreaked havoc in the 1980s.
3. “The Lebanon” (Hysteria- 1984)
“According to The Human League” (https://www.thehumanleague.co.uk/ ), “The Lebanon” was written by Philip Oakey (Lead singer) and Jo Callis (pianist and guitarist). The band recorded it for their fourth album, Hysteria, courtesy of AIR Studios. It’s believed that the band recorded it when they were under pressure to do a rendition of their previous album, Dare. Going by the lyrics, the song is about the 1982 civil war in Lebanon. The band used the song to speak for the minorities who were collateral damage in the war.
2. “Empire State Human” (Reproduction- 1979)
“Empire State Human” is the only single on the Reproduction album, written by Ian Craig Marsh, Philip Oakey, and Martyn Ware. Unfortunately, it failed to appear on the charts after its release. However, the band remastered and released it a year later. Their efforts bore fruit as the song reached 62 on the UK Singles Chart. The song was used for the 2012 Lollipop Chainsaw video game as its soundtrack.
1. “Louise” (Hysteria- 1984)
The best song by The Human League is “Louise,” which peaked at 13 in the UK Singles Chart. “According to Classic Pop Mag” (https://www.classicpopmag.com/2021/12/best-human-league-songs/), this song describes men who think they can dupe women. These men believe they are street-smart and any woman coming their way is gullible. It tells a story of a man and woman on a bus in a reconciliatory mood with their respective lovers. The song was remastered and released by Robbie Williams for his Rudebox album. There’s another version by Tony Christie, who added piano and trumpet to his 2008 album, Made in Sheffield.