The Human League is an electronic/new wave synthpop band formed in Sheffield, England in 1977. The band is best known for their international hit singles: “Don't You Want Me,” which peaked at #1 on the U.K. Singles chart; “Mirror Man,” “Fascination,” “The Lebanon” and “Human,” which peaked at #1 in the U.S. Pop Singles chart. The Human League's beginnings can be traced back to the all-male band, “The Future” that began with co-founders, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh inviting, now current singer, Phil Oakey to joined the band. The band was signed to the Scottish indie label, Fast Product, released their first single, and changed their name to The Human League. The band stood out from the crowd amidst the current musical climate and the press took to them, with NME Magazine championing the band. The band also attracted followers in unlikely places, such as David Bowie and Siouxsie and the Banshees.
The band's popularity began to swell, and as a result a record deal from Virgin Records emerged in 1979, however, by this time in-house fighting had erupted between Ware and Oakey about the musical direction of the band. In 1980, Ware and Marsh had left the band and the line-up shifted with Oakey adding vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley. At the time both women were just school girls and had no experience with singing or dancing. The tour they embarked on that year was a failure. Once the newly formed band returned home they returned to the studio and began working on their now famous 1981 album, “Dare.” The album went on to become a huge commercial success; peaking at #1 on the U.K. Album chart. The album remained in the #1 spot for four weeks and remained in the charts for 77 weeks, eventually going triple platinum. The album also spawned a string of hit singles making the band overnight superstars.
The band then embarked on an international tour and won a BRIT Award in 1982 for Best British Newcomer. The band followed up their success with “Love and Dancing” in 1982 and “Hysteria” in 1984. Both albums were moderately successful and produced a number of top ten hit singles both in the U.K. and the U.S. However, the album “Hysteria” took on political undertones, which received mixed reviews from both fans and critics alike. The band put out three more albums over the next ten years, and while their success remained fairly stable in the U.S. and parts of Europe at this time, their popularity was dwindling in the U.K. as the musical climate began to shift. By 1992, unable to compete with U.S. grunge market and the Brit pop scene that was emerging on the streets of Manchester, The Human League was dropped from Virgin Records. Oakey took the rejection badly and his health began to decline at this point.
The band were signed to EastWest Records in 1994 and put out their debut for the label, “Octopus” in 1995; the album charted well and spawned the top ten single, “Tell Me When.” The band ran into more disappointment and bad luck when their label collapsed in 1998 and the band were once again without a record label. In 2001 Papillon Records signed the band and put out their ninth studio album, “Secrets.” With the musical climate moving towards a renewed interest in electronic music the band were back in business. The band's most current album, “Credo” appeared in 2011 and peaked at
#44 on the U.K. Albums chart. The first single from the album, “Night People” peaked at #25 in the U.K. The band has become a hugely successful live act in the past twenty years and tours the world extensively. While their albums are no longer charting the way they did the 1980s, The Human League still record and release new music, and perform live.