147. Human League – ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ (1981)

“You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar”

Taken from the album Dare

Also released on Greatest Hits, The Very Best Of The Human League, Live At The Dome and Original Remixes & Rarities

UK #1, US #1, AUS #4

Here’s something I didn’t know – ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ is the 25th biggest selling single in UK history. That’s a pretty amazing achievement for a group who started out as anti-commercial and abstract as the Human League did on early records like Reproduction and Travelogue. But ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ is in completely opposition with those albums, based on an infectious synth riff and boasting an incredible chorus.

The story told within this one is as old as time. A man meets a girl, turns her into a star, and she turns her back on him for better things and brighter lights. The verses are sad and reflective, veering between the angry man and the woman who seems to have listened to Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ and brought the sentiment into this song. “Don’t you want me, baby?” is a desperate cry and a defiant kiss off. It says “I need you” and “You don’t want this? Well I don’t need you anyway” in the same breath.

The group had found their style on the classic album Dare and ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ mixed that style with substance professionally and effectively. The music video gave the song a dark, stalkerish feel and added to the suspense and drama of the situation portrayed within. It’s not difficult to see why it was so successful, even if that success did run away and become something of a phenomenon. Human League aren’t especially remembered beyond Dare but ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ is rightfully considered an essential piece of eighties electronica.

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