When you think of the Human Leauge, most people think of one song, “Don’t You Want Me,” where a man and a woman sing about their romantic frustrations and where a powerful man and a young woman just starting ponder whether they can remain together at all or not. The song was a big hit in the United States and Great Britain, going #1 in both countries as well as Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand, as well as being a top 5 or top 10 hit in most of the other major nations of the world. Any band would be happy to have such a hit, but it is well worth considering that there are aspects which make the Human League quite distinctive among the acts of their generation, and that includes the fact that unlike the couple in the song, the core group of the band has remained together continuously now for the last four decades. Also, the band has a lot more arrows in their quiver than just that one song. Those who would think the group to be a one-hit wonder are sorely mistaken. It is worthwhile for us to examine this particular group and discuss what has made it an enduring group that has been capable of creating memorable music and that also has been able to influence and inspire generations of musicians in sometimes surprising and remarkable ways. The Human League is a far more vital group in the history of music than they are often assumed to be.
The Influence Of The Human League
The influence of the Human League can be determined in several ways. For one, there is the way that their songs have endured from the 1980’s, most notably (but not only) “Don’t You Want Me,” which is one of the most-played songs from the 1980’s and a song that has charted three times in the top 20 in the UK, in 1981, 1995, and 2014. Aside from that, their electropop and synthpop sound has been an influence on groups like Moby, the Pet Shop Boys, and Little Boots. They have been covered and sampled by a diverse group of artists including George Michael, Robbie Williams, and LCD Soundsystem. This is an impressive degree of influence, besides having the usual tribute album made in their honor in 2000 . In addition to that, the group apparently inspired Victoria Beckham/Posh Spice to get into music . So not only has the music of the Human League been an inspiration to others, but also their approach and attitude have been at least partly responsible for the Spice Girls, something that the Human League does not and should not be bothered by.
Why The Human League Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Above all else, the Human League is a wonderful example of the Sheffield music scene and its dance tradition. While they only have one certified album in the US, 1981’s Dare, home to the aforementioned “Don’t You Want Me” as well as UK hits “The Sound Of The Crowd,” “Love Action (I Believe In Love),” “and Open Your Heart,” their UK record is far more notable, where six of their studio albums have gone at least gold, as well as a compilation album and a remix album as well. In the US they have 3 top ten hits, including the #1 hit “Human,” my own personal favorite from the group and an 80’s classic ballad about infidelity and the human tendency to make mistakes, and the #8 hit “(Keep Feeling) Fascination,” another 80’s dance classic. Beyond that, they had two top 40 hits in 1990’s “Heart Like A Wheel” and 1995’s “Tell Me When,” from their comeback album Octopus . And when they weren’t making enduring dance songs and doing their city proud by helping to display the sound of Sheffield, some of their songs, like the minor hit “The Lebanon” were able to deal with political issues about the Lebanense Civil War , showing that they had a range that went well beyond personal relationships. Likewise, the group’s pre-dare experimental dance pop is also well worth appreciating even if it was not a popular success on the charts. Overall, this is a group that is full of surprises and has managed to stay together and make great music for decades.
Why The Human League Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
By and large, synth pop and electronic music have not been well recognized by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, being seen as much more of a European phenomenon than an American one. That is a problem that has continued, leaving a legacy that many acts have followed and that has demonstrated to be both creatively and commercially viable. The general stability of the core group of singers in the group has made it easy to keep appreciating them for their humor and candor and ability to work things out and keep making music, whether live or in the studio, despite the vicissitudes of their career when it comes to album sales and label drama.
Verdict: Put them in. There is a lot of 80’s music and dance music that deserves a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Human League is certainly among them.