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The Human League – Dare (1981)

October 31, 2017

[Album 575/1001]

I was fortunate to find this LP for a sticker price of $2.

Overall? I’m neither over/underwhelmed with my return on investment.

But I’m left feeling a bit curious about a couple of things.




1. The group is named The Human League

This, to me, implies co-operation among, and loyalty to, well, leagues of humans.

So when I looked at the credited musicians, and noticed 4 of the 6 played synthesizers (or machines emulating sounds that humans would otherwise make using traditional instruments), that was the first thing that seemed askew.




2. The creepy lyrics to Don’t You Want Me

Of greater concern, I’d never really paid much attention to the lyrics from the group’s signature hit, Don’t You Want Me.

Upon closer inspection, the male’s strategy (for convincing the female that he’s a keeper) seems poorly calculated:

– Take credit for her success220px-Dare-cover

– Threaten to ruin her career

And he wonders why he’s unwanted?

So, overall, more disturbing than I’d previously considered.

Kind of like that moment when I realized The Police’s Every Breath You Take wasn’t exactly a love song…





Verbalize the Positive

Here’s to flea markets that have records like this one, just waiting to be exchanged for a toonie!

From → 1980s

  1. A toonie? Presumably a cartoon you whip up in exchange for goods. Or perhaps a spontaneous melody that beguiles the seller into parting with the record? Any which way, a bargain. As is any 1001 post with a Venn diagram.

    • Haha – I may have to try one of those other toonie definitions the next time I’m in a record shop, given my limited visual arts skills, I may opt for attempting to beguile through melody!

  2. Zack permalink

    I got a 45 of Don’t You Want Me at a thrift store a few months back. I think it cost more than a toonie for just the one song.

    • There’s a record store in Kingston that has boxes and boxes of unpriced 45s – you just sort of take it to the cash and ask,
      I’m now curious to see (as I’m guessing there’s a Human League 45 in one of those Boxes) whether it would be more than a toonie as well!

  3. This was hilarious! I knew ‘don’t you want me’ was problematic, but I NEVER thought that about the police song. Mind blown would be the expression, or is there a Canadian colloquialism one could use?

    There’s a documentary called Synth Britannia in which they sort of explain the name. Something to do with ‘de-humanization’.

    • I think that would be the appropriate Canadian colloquialism for it!
      Or the Keanu Reeves reaction of “whoa!” from the Matrix would be acceptable as well 😀

      • The ‘Whoa’ imprinted in my brain is from Bill and Ted. I can never say that word without trying to make it sound like him!

      • That makes two of us!

      • I don’t know if it’s taboo to talk about his roles in romance films, but I used to really love Sweet November and The Lake House back in the day. His sincerity really sold those characters, even though his acting sometimes falls short of emotional expression.

      • I haven’t seen Sweet November – but I liked the Lake House. I’ve heard his performances described as “stillness” (when positive) or “wooden” (when somewhat less positive)!

      • You should watch Sweet November in November! Nothing unpredictable in it, but his character goes from closed up and brooding to being more open. I wouldn’t use ‘wooden’ in this context!

  4. Yup the name was meant to be ironic.

  5. Not one I’m familiar with. I like Don’t You Want Me (doesn’t everyone?) despite the chap clearly being an ego-maniac.

  6. We’ve had some good family dance workouts to ‘Don’t You Want Me’. We’ve also been known to play ‘Dancing in the Dark’ (where we switch on the Springsteen song, switch off the lights, and dance).

  7. Picked up the Powerstation album from $1.99 Geoff!
    Beat ya by a penny!

    • You’ve won this round Deke!
      I gather that Powerstation one has a particularly impressive side A as well

      • I tossed this on the turntable and cranked the beginning to Some Like It Hot!
        Lexie said that opening is off the hook when the drums and bass lead it off…
        So good!

  8. lalonded permalink

    The 80s were a mess! Too many songs couched sexual stereotypes and bad role models. But maybe that’s pop music in general, no matter the era. 🙂

    • I’m afraid you’re right on all of the above Danny!

    • “The 80s were a mess! Too many songs couched sexual stereotypes and bad role models. But maybe that’s pop music in general, no matter the era.”

      I didn’t get the 80s. There had been a steady progression from “I want to hold your hand” to “let’s spend the night together” to “I’m gonna give you every inch of my love”, then some blokes who looked like our grandparents (well, more or less, when our grandparents were young, at least compared to, say, Roy Wood) came on the scene and sang “relax, don’t do it, when you want to come”. I still don’t get it. 🙂

      • I’m afraid things are somehow even less subtle in radio lyrics in the 2000s – they don’t even seem to be attempted innuendo!

  9. With regard to the creepy lyrics, the two female singers (with main man—originally also a non-musician who joined at short notice—Phil Oakey, still part of the current incarnation) were found not in a cocktail bar, but in a disco, and had no previous experience. With other members having left to form Heaven 17, Oakey had to act fast in order to meet all obligations.

    Bowie declared them to be the future of pop music. Interesting, but I’m not a Bowie fan. John Lydon criticized them for being trendy hippies, but this shows yet again that he doesn’t know what hippies are (his main enemies at the time were Pink Floyd and Genesis, the latter boring old farts who were 27 at the time). Often, what Lydon hates I like, but I am still not a fan of the Human League, though I prefer them to the Pistols any day.

    • And Heaven 17 is on the list as well – I’m curious as to how they’ll compare to the Human League.

  10. Nice breakdown of the lyrics. I rarely pay close attention to them.

    • I’d heard the song dozens of times, this was the first time I’d actually tuned into them – a tad creepy to say the least!

  11. Oh man there are so many creepy songs. You’re right about this one, for sure. And that Police track, yes! Did you know people play that one at their weddings? True story! Haha yeesh. Another one I find creepy is Sugar Ray’s Every Morning. Listen closely to it… gah!

    As for humans v. synthesizers, it was the 80s. ‘Nuff said!

    • I’ll have to re-visit that Sugar Ray tune – I remember the melody was pleasant, sounds like the lyrics were less so!

      • It’s absolutely deceptive. The tune is so damn catchy, but the guy in that song is a jerk!

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