Bizarre Love Triangle – New Order

Year: 1986  / Album: single/Best of New order / Other Hits: Thieves Like Us , True Faith 

‘I feel so extraordinary’… as the first stanza of the song ‘True Faith’ goes by New Order… oh but this is what I actually felt watching them live on the night of Aug 22, 2012 @ Forth Canning Park Singapore.

This English rock band was originally formed in 1976 as Joy Division, the lead vocalist committed suicide in 1980 but the rest of the members moved on and on that same year gave birth to ‘New Order’. Tension broke the group in 1993 but was able to reform in 1998.

A member who functioned in keyboard, guitars, and synthesizers was replaced in 2001. In 2007, an original member left and apparently, this dispersed the band. The lead vocals announced he no longer wishes to make music as New Order. The band reunited in 2011 without the original member who left in 2007 but returning with the member who was replaced in 2001… clear as mud?

Somewhere in between those numbers of years, at one point I thought I never get to see them live ever! The years of existence of New Order had too much drama. I’m not an avid follower of the group per se but I’m a big fan of their music. But here they are in my face, literary in my face – wrinkles and pores! because I was just standing at the side of the stage while they played. And yeah, I rest my case on the vocalist (Bernard Sumner) who looks like Horatio Caine (David Caruso) of CSI Miami if anyone noticed. They are one of the greats and influential band that 80’s music produced in the era of new wave and electronic sound.

This band was very giving, they kept throwing the crowd hits after hits and though I felt we are not worthy , they even let us hear ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ originally from Joy Division. Seeing them now, performing live after 20 plus years of enjoying ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ was an awesome experience. I would prefer to have caught them live at their prime but this is better than never.

The Distance Between Us – Fra Lippo Lippi

Fra Lippo Lippi - Per Oystein Sorensen and Rune Kristoffersen

Year: 1986
Artists: Fra Lippo Lippi
Albums: Songs
Other Hits: Angel, Every time I See You, Light and Shade, Stitches and Burns


This band was huge when I was growing up, not internationally though, they didn’t top US or UK charts but from where I came from their concert was a definite sold out. I happened to catch them performed live in the early 00 and it was one of the memorable concerts I have ever attended. The crowd was up and bopping, the atmosphere was so alive. FYI! Norway’s gift to music was not just A-ha they also have Fra Lippo Lippi – joined together in 1980 by bassist Rune Kristoffersen. The band’s name derived from an 1855 dramatic monologue written by the Victorian poet Robert Browning. Throughout this poem, Browning depicts a 15th century real-life painter, Filippo Lippi.

In the early years of FLL, they were obsessed with the humming beats and glum lyrics of Joy Division the same band that influenced U2 and The Cure. Their album during these times did not give positive reviews until Per Øystein Sørensen came on board in 1982 and released the album Songs that the band was signed to Virgin Records where most of their work  re-recorded and remixed for the international market in 1986.

One of my favorite song from this band is the song The Distance Between Us, the single has a sombre expression that you can actually categorized it as a love song but still differs from the usual love song of the 80’s because it’s from a new wave band. So it wouldn’t just blurt out ‘Didn’t we almost have it all….’ somehow it didn’t sound so lame and emotional, you can only feel the sense and the passion thru its lyrics never in the sound. FLL produce a lot of this records, this is the band’s forte – synth pop with a slow tempo and poetic lyrics. I think for some of us, if 80’s has a sound it will be the  sweet tooth of Sørensen, if 80’s has words, it will the stanzas of their songs.

Fra Lippo Lippi ceased recording in the early ’90s, both artists returned to Norway, Kristoffersen -to teach primary school children, before embarking on a career as a label owner of Rune Grammofon and   Sørensen is doing his solo recording.

Mad World – Tears for Fears

Tears For Fears - Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith

Year: 1982
Artist: Tears for Fears
Album: Mad World
Other Hits: Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Shout, Head Over Heels,
Break It Down Again, Pale Shelter, Change, Mothers Talk, Call Me Mellow

Tears for Fears are the English pop rock duo formed in the early 1980s by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Both were schoolmates from Bath, England. I was in grade school when I first heard their songs. I must admit, I didn’t like them a bit… their songs were full of angst, anger, shout, and madness…I remember hating this duo for topping the charts but there’s something in their music that with repeated listening will kind of’ grow in you and fit you like a glove and there’s nothing left for you to do but give in and succumb to their tunes and lyrics. After all, they are the pioneer for the new wave sounds they were initially associated with the new wave synthesizer bands of the early 1980s but later branched out into mainstream rock and pop, which led to international chart success.

They first formed a band called History of Headaches, a moniker which was then changed to Tears for Fears. The band’s name was inspired by Primal Therapy, developed by the American psychologist Arthur Janov, which gained tremendous publicity after John Lennon became Janov’s patient in 1970. In Prisoners of Pain (1980) Janov suggested tears as a replacement for fears.

After a decade, Orzabal and Smith had a bitter split in the early 1990s. Although Orzabal continued to work as Tears for Fears after he and Smith parted ways, the subsequent TFF albums Elemental (1993) are solo works by him. In Sept 11, in the U.S. he and Smith reconciled and released new Tears for Fears album together the 2004`s Everybody Loves a Happy Ending

Mad World – Written by Roland Orzabal and sung by bassist Curt Smith were recognized again in recent years after Gary Jules` cover version of the song Mad World became the Christmas #1 single in the UK in 2003. It is taken from the soundtrack of the film Donnie Darko. Also, Adam Lambert – finished as the runner-up on the eighth season of American Idol for his Top 8 performance, he sang the 2001 Michael Andrews and Gary Jules arrangement of “Mad World”. Because the show had exceeded its time slot, only Cowell gave a critique, which he did by simply giving Lambert a standing ovation. During the results next night, the other judges agreed that a standing ovation was the best critique of Lambert’s performance.

First ever concert in Singapore Resorts World Sentosa Convention Center – May 4, 2010 I had goose bumps watching them live – their music just takes you back in specific time… how the world used to be …who were your friends, what’s your life like, what you used to be doing been doing at that age … and you probably thinking watching them live is not going to happen….NOT! (That’s the goose bumps for)

“Lyrically the song is pretty loose. It throws together a lot of different images to paint a picture without saying anything specific about the world.”—Roland Orzabal

“It’s very much a voyeur’s song. It’s looking out at a mad world from the eyes of a teenager”.—Curt Smith

Absolute Reality – The Alarm

The Alarm

Year: 1985
Artists: The Alarm
Album: Declaration

The Alarm instigated from North Wales. The group’s genre was leaning towards alternative/punk/rock so it’s kind of’ loud than most new wave band. In their early formation they humbly kicked off as an opening act for U2 or the Police. The vocalist/composer of this group is Mike Peters. As per my research his first job was a computer operator and handled IBM mainframe with OS of RPG II, though this sounds jurassic now, we can still consider him in his era as ‘techy’

The Initial name of the band was Alarm Alarm that was inspired by the song composed by Mike Peters when he was still in the group called The Toilets that was apparently made fun by the BBC radio host when commented that with Duran Duran, Talk Talk and now there’s Alarm Alarm so the name was shortened to The Alarm

From where I came from they are famous for this song and this song alone — ‘Absolute Reality’ it’s the best tune and lyrics that really sends out a message not only from the past generations but to coming generations as well as they will learn equality from poverty, and love from woes. The song is about equality, anti-racism, and being eco-friendly. Now that I’m older I think the acoustic version of this song was even better than the first release.

The band broke up on 1991. Mike Peters continued his career to date as the lead for another 80’s band called Big Country and co-founder of the charitable foundation whose purpose is to raise funds and awareness in order to benefit people with cancer and leukemia – Love Hope Strength Foundation

“We believe in personal choice, rather than society dictating how we must live our lives.” – Mike Peters, vocals The Alarm


Turn back the clock – Johnny Hates Jazz

Johnny Hates Jazz - Clark Datchler, Mike Nocito and Calvin Hayes.

Year: 1988
Artists: Johnny Hates Jazz
Album: Johnny Hates Jazz (debut album)
Other Hits: Shattered Dream, Different Season

You cannot get through the 80’s without liking a few songs from this band. In April 1987 they saw international success with their first hit single “Shattered Dreams. This band is not that smashing but the subtleness of their music will creep into your subconscious. Their music is the EMO of 80’s coined ‘New Romanticism’. As per Wikipedia, “It was a youth fashion and music movement in the United Kingdom that began in the late 1970s in England and during the early 1980s. Originally often associated with the new wave music scene that had become popular at that time, it has seen several revivals since then, and continues to influence popular culture.”

Turn Back the Clock, was released in January 1988, topping charts worldwide. It entered the UK Albums Chart at number 1, achieving double platinum status. Johnny Hates Jazz is an English New Romantic band, formed in 1986. The group consists of singer-songwriter Clark Datchler (vocals, keyboards and guitar) and production team Calvin Hayes (keyboards, drums) and Mike Nocito (guitar).Their tongue-in-cheek name referenced Nocito’s brother-in-law Johnny, who really hated jazz.

This is one of the band who performed equally better in live and in records. Apart from ‘Turn Back the Clock’ I liked that they played ‘Different Season’. I happened to catch this song in 2000 as one of those songs listed in your compilation CD but never bothered paying attention to it because it’s not a hit more so, the artist is erstwhile. Well surprise! Surprise! They played it in the concert and it was awesome! – I love watching live performances just when you thought you knew the artist and their songs… They will deliver an old track and will make it sound new, giving you reason to like them all the more…

“This song is about the one that you cared for and actually cared for you back. But it just wasn’t in the cards for you. Oh Godit’s been twenty years and she’s as vivid as yesterday. Sometimes you find yourself reaching back for her but your hand comes back empty. You just thank God she was there at all. She was just there to save your life when you felt you could go no further. And she sent you on when you were healed.” –- Comment from you tube

Postcards from Paradise – Flesh for Lulu

Flesh for Lulu

Year: 1984
Artists: Flesh for Lulu
Album: Long Live the New Flesh
Other Hits: I Go Crazy

I collect postcards in my every travel and every time I see one this song is resonating in my mind.  This awesome tune was from the Alternative/Gothic band named Flesh for Lulu the same band who gave us ‘I Go Crazy’ from that teeny bopper movie soundtrack Some Kind of Wonderful. Even the ears of Paul Westerberg (Singer, Dyslexic Heart) and John Rzeznik (vocalist and guitarist of Goo Goo Dolls) did not escape this sheer masterpiece; they covered the same song in their albums. Both gave justice to it but the original is always the best.

Nick Marsh (vocals and guitar) and James Mitchell (drums) formed Flesh for Lulu back in 1982 in Brixton, London. They penetrated US charts with the song “I Go Crazy” that was featured in Some Kind of Wonderful 1987 romance film starring Eric Stoltz, Lea Thompson, and Mary Stuart Masterson. It was one of the many successful teen dramas written by John Hughes, and this allowed Flesh for Lulu to sustain a successful tour of the US. The two-hits wonder  band lasted until 1992. In 1996, Nick formed a new band called Gigantic and went solo in 1998.

So In Love – OMD

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys

Year: 1985
Artist: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD)
Album: Crush
Other Hits: If You Leave, Enola Gay, Secrets

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark is synonymous with the song ‘If You Leave’ from the Pretty in Pink motion picture soundtrack album. But this blog is not about the hits, it’s more of re-introducing other songs from the same artists who has the hits.

OMD composed of Andy McCluskey, the primary songwriter for the band and Paul Humphreys, first met at primary school in the 1970s and discovered that they both loved the same synthesized electronic type of music which was just starting to break through in their era. They played together in several bands until in the late 70’s McCluskey teamed up with Humphreys to form OMD. They were successful in their native UK but penetrated US charts for their song that used in 1986 John Hughes films of American teen romantic comedy-drama about adolescent love and social cliques in 1980s American high schools. The film was a critical and commercial success; this is one of the best teen movies of all time and a personal favourite. Great cast, good story line and awesome soundtrack that lingers in the echoes of time.

But OMD is more than that famous chick flick single, they have strings of hits and this particular single ‘So in Love’ I’m featuring in my blog is at par with their US breakthrough track. Actually this was their first hit in the United States, after five years of trying to “break” in the States. Everyone who was dumped, beaten, and bruised on the painful end of a relationship can relate to this song– this is according to the composer McCluskey. The cliché remains true to the artist and his song — love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.

And for your added info: According to Wikipedia, Andy McCluskey formed Atomic Kitten in 1997. During the writing of their second album Atomic Kitten cut their ties with Andy McCluskey. McCluskey and Humphries reformed OMD in 2006 and performed in a string of concerts in 2008.

Rent – Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys

Year: 1987
Artist: Pet Shop Boys
Album: Actually
Hit Songs: West End Girls, Always on my mind, Suburbia,
Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)

Pet Shop Boys are an English electronic dance music duo, consisting of Neil Tennant, who provides main vocals, keyboards and occasional guitar, and Chris Lowe on keyboards. The two came up with the name Pet Shop Boys from friends of theirs who worked in a pet shop in Ealing, London.

I had the pleasure of watching them performed live few years back and without goggling of the front men’s orientation, instantly I knew they were gay. This was apart from the fact that my gaydar blipped intensely, what gave them away was the show turned into a Broadway play plus all the glitters and gold and half naked flexed muscled men dancing. I’m very familiar with their music but my liking never moved me to inquire further than their talents and albums. Anyways, it’s not like they were hiding it, I found out from Wikipedia that Tennant came out in a 1994 interview for Attitude, a UK gay lifestyle magazine. Lowe, did not disclosed his own orientation, where according to him there is only “(human) sexuality” – which suggests that he may consider the terms “gay” or “straight” to be constricting, inadequate, or inappropriate labels. I completely agree, in this ever changing world it’s enough that we put labels on stuff rather than on fickle minded people…the women of tomorrow would probably be the men of today.

Pet Shop Boys has a lot of hits but Rent is my favourite I don’t know why, I cannot even relate to the lyrics. It’s repeating, retelling narrative about this freeloader in financially one sided relationship and getting everything at liberty but really costing the most important and priceless parts of life. I guess what attracted me to this song was the distinct voice of Tennant that added despondent flavour to its undertone that will leave you an eclectic haunting feeling of desolation.

Together in Electric Dreams – Philip Oakey

Human League (Philip Oakey center)

Year:  1985
Artist: Philip Oakey (vocalist of Human League)
Album: Good-Bye Bad Times

Ever wonder why this song always got tied up with Human League? It’s because the singer/composer was actually the front man of the band named, Philip Oakey.  As per Wikipedia, When Oakey recorded the song it was over very quickly, after the first full recording the album producer told Oakey that the first take was “good enough, as first time is always best”. Oakey who thought he was just rehearsing insisted on doing another take. The producer let him but to this day Oakey is convinced that they still used the first take on the final production. Oakey states that it is ironic that a track that took literally ten minutes to record would become a worldwide hit, while some of his Human League material that took over a year to record didn’t

Just so you know,  the record was also the soundtrack of the movie ‘Electric Dreams’ –if that don’t ring a bell it’s because the song overshadowed the original film and became a hit single in its own right. To the masses, the melody lingers on but the film left forgotten. I remember seeing this movie but I cannot recollect the whole plot. I still retrieved in my memory of wanting to see the film because of the soundtrack and how happy I was when my brother acquired a Betamax copy of it.  The story was a guy who bought a PC and having a next door crush and that computer also had crush on the same girl. So much for machine with feelings, you can visit IMDB for the whole synopsis. One thing I cannot forget about this picture though, that I was amazed seeing a personal computer for the first time even on a TV screen that eventually, became my bread and butter.

See You – Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode

Year: 1982
Artist: Depeche mode
Album: A broken Frame
Hit Songs: Somebody, People Are People, Strangelove, Master and Servants, 
Dreaming of Me, A Question of Lust

An English electronic music band formed in 1980 in Essex, England the band name was taken from a French fashion magazine, Depeche Mode meaning ‘hurried fashion or fashion dispatch’ composed of Martin Gore ((keyboards, guitar, vocals, chief songwriter), Dave Gahan (lead vocals), and Andy Fletcher (keyboard). They are in the music business for almost 30 years now and according to Q magazine “The most popular electronic band the world has ever known” and “One of the greatest British pop groups of all time” as per Sunday Telegraph. This was no surprise as there’s a lot of successful musician then and now considered DM as their influenced i.e., Cold Play, Linkin Park, a-ha, The Killers, Pet Shop Boys , even Colombian singer Shakira.

In my sophomore year, I used their band name as my code name in a secret Santa class activity. In my senior year, my teacher required us to submit a song that will best described the disposition we are in and I chose ‘Somebody’, also taught myself to play the keyboard because of this. I know DM has plenty of hits but my personal favorite was See You, I immediately liked it when I first heard it, I got lost in the lyrics and the melody. I felt the vocalist’s sincerity and nobility uttering these lyrics “…You can keep me at a distance if you don’t trust my resistance but I swear I won’t touch you, all I want to do is see you…”

They are the reason why I love new wave and the 80’s defined their music but when  90’s came I stopped listening. The band reinvented their sound and released Violator and never looked back,  but I forgave them. Artist should evolved into something new as era progressed not following the conventional path after gaining super-stardom, as  opposed to changing because they are selling out. I never saw them performed live but I guess I would happily spend that dough if there’s a guarantee they will sing their old songs. I heard one nasty rumor back in the 90’s, when they performed in my hometown,  they ditched their old songs and just sang their latest album and the crowd was frustrated.  I can’t blame the audience, I would not just be frustrated, I would felt ripped off and cheated if I was there. Don’t you guys know that consumers buy tickets because of  who you were not because of who you are. Oh well, so much for my brouhaha about Depeche Mode, I still like them and though their music moved on, I’m happy I got left behind because up until now… I just can’t get enough…

“Most modern stuff is creatively bankrupt, that’s the difference. Technically you can’t fault most of it, they can turn a fart into a hit today with all the technology but if you look at the creative content, virtually all of it is consciously or subconsciously rooted in the glory days of popular music.” – Comment in You Tube by flaxonx3