When two of the three founding members left to form Heaven 17, the future of The Human League didn’t look promising. After two albums, that although brilliant didn’t sell particularly well, it could have been the end for them; but with creative visionary Philip Oakley at the helm the band stood strong. Oakley took a trip down to the local disco and recruited two teenage vocalists, and then headed back to the studio to record an album. This album turned out to be Dare, which went on to sell millions of copies.
A departure from The Human League’s experimental and avant-garde sound, Dare was a far more commercial synthpop record. Critics raved, with the album winning Brit Awards and placing in numerous end of year ‘best of 1981’ lists. Even now, the record is a regular contender in ‘the best albums of all time’ lists, placing at #77 in NME and British Hit Singles & Albums’ ‘100 best albums ever’, which was voted for by 40,000 people worldwide.
The album spawned a host of hit singles. ‘Love Action (I Believe in Love)’ and ‘Open Your Heart’ were both catchy, heavily synthesized pop gems, which stormed into the UK top 10; yet any track on the album pales in comparison to the international success that the albums fourth single spawned.
Synonymous with The Human League’s name is the karaoke classic ‘Don’t You Want Me’. Originally, Oakley was the fighting the decision to release it as a single as he believed it was the weakest track on the record; but Virgin records overruled his decisions and ‘Don’t You Want Me’ was released. It went on to be an international success, becoming the band’s greatest ever hit single – selling over 1.5million copies, which places it as the 23rd most successful single in the UK, ever. With its jittering beats and the anthemic chorus, ‘Don’t You Want Me’ is an unashamedly brilliant pop song.
34 years on, and Dare is just as brilliant today as it was when it was first released. Interesting instrumentation, fantastically catchy songs and incredible production all make The Human League’s third album a huge success. It shows a pop band at the peak of their career, and the influence of this record is still evident in pop music today.
Dare was released on 16th October 1981 via Virgin Records.