Don't You Want Me

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"Don't You Want Me"
Single by The Human League
from the album Dare
Released 27 November 1981
16 October 1995 (remix)
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1981
Length 3:56
Label Virgin
Writer(s) Philip Oakey, Jo Callis, Philip Adrian Wright
Producer(s) Martin Rushent
Certification RIAA: Gold
BPI: Platinum
The Human League singles chronology
"Open Your Heart"
"Don't You Want Me"
"Being Boiled"
Music sample

"Don't You Want Me" is a single by British synthpop group The Human League, released on 27 November 1981 as the fourth single from their third studio album Dare (1981).

It is the band's best known and most commercially successful recording to date. In 1981 it was the Christmas number one in the UK, where it has since sold over 1,560,000 copies, making it the 23rd most successful single in UK Singles Chart history.[1] It later topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US on 3 July 1982 where it stayed for three weeks.

The title is frequently misprinted by the media and by covering artists as "Don't You Want Me Baby",[2] which is a prominent lyric in the song's chorus.


The lyrics were originally inspired after lead singer Philip Oakey read a photo-story in a teen-girl's magazine. Originally conceived and recorded in the studio as a male solo, Oakey was inspired by the film A Star Is Born and decided to turn the song into a conflicting duet with one of the band's two teenage female vocalists. Susan Ann Sulley was then asked to take on the role. Up until then, she and the other female vocalist Joanne Catherall had only been assigned backing vocals; Sulley says she was chosen only through "luck of the draw".[3] Musicians Jo Callis and Philip Adrian Wright created a synthesizer score to accompany the lyrics which was much harsher than the version that was actually released. Initial versions of the song were recorded but Virgin Records-appointed producer Martin Rushent was unhappy with them. He and Callis remixed the track, giving it a softer, and in Oakey's opinion, "poppy" sound. Oakey hated the new version and thought it the weakest track on Dare, resulting in one of his infamous rows with Rushent.[4] Oakey disliked it so much that it was relegated to the last track on the B side of the (then) vinyl album.

Before the release of Dare, two of its tracks—"The Sound of the Crowd" and "Love Action (I Believe in Love)"—had already been released as successful singles. To promote the new album, Virgin released "Open Your Heart" in October 1981, which hit No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart. With a hit album and three hit singles in a row, Virgin's chief executive Simon Draper decided to release one more single from the album before the end of 1981. His choice, "Don't You Want Me", instantly caused a row with Oakey who did not want another single to be released because he was convinced that "the public were now sick of hearing The Human League" and the choice of the "poor quality filler track" would almost certainly be a disaster, wrecking the group's new-found popularity. Virgin were adamant that a fourth single would be released and Oakey finally agreed on the condition that a large colour poster accompany the 7" single, because he felt fans would "feel ripped off" by the 'substandard' single alone.[5]

The Human League often added cryptic references to their productions and the record sleeve of "Don't You Want Me" featured the suffix of "100". This was a reference to The 100 Club, a restaurant/bar in Sheffield.[6]

Today, the song is widely considered a classic of its era. In a retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, senior editor for AllMusic, described the song as "a devastating chronicle of a frayed romance wrapped in the greatest pop hooks and production of its year."[7] Oakey still describes it as over-rated, but acknowledges his initial dismissal was misguided and claims pride in the track.[citation needed]

An urban myth has grown around the song that it is autobiographical. This is untrue. Susan Ann Sulley is often irritated that she constantly has to refute the mistaken belief that the song is a reference to her and Joanne Catherall joining the band.[citation needed] At only 17 years old when the song was recorded, she was legally too young by UK law to have been a cocktail waitress and was, in fact, still in Secondary School. Oakey is also at pains to point out another misconception, that it is not a love song, but "a nasty song about sexual power politics".[8]

Chart performance and sales[edit]

"Don't You Want Me" was released in the UK on 27 November 1981. To the amazement of the band (and especially Oakey),[9] it shot to number one on the UK charts. This success was repeated six months later in the US, with "Don't You Want Me" hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. Billboard magazine ranked it as the sixth-biggest hit of 1982. The single was certified Gold by the RIAA the same year for sales of a million copies. It is notable as the first song featuring the revolutionary Linn LM-1 drum machine to hit No. 1 on the UK charts and also the first LM-1 track to top the Billboard Hot 100. The song was remixed and re-released in 1995, peaking at No. 16 on the UK chart.[10] As of November 2012, "Don't You Want Me" is the 23rd best-selling single in the UK with 1.55 million copies sold.[1] On 23 March 2014 the song was re-entered the UK singles chart in number 19 after the original visit in December 1981 and debuted number 1 in the Scottish singles charts thanks to a social media campaign by fans of Aberdeen Football Club.[11]

Music video[edit]

Susan Ann Sulley in the 1981 "Don't You Want Me" video.

In 1981 record company Virgin were becoming aware that the promotional music video was evolving into an important marketing tool, with MTV being launched that year. Because it was agreed that the video for Open Your Heart had looked "cheap and nasty", Virgin commissioned a much more elaborate and expensive promotional video for "Don't You Want Me".

The video for the song was filmed in Slough during November 1981 and has the theme of the filming and editing of a murder-mystery film, featuring the band members as characters and production staff. Due to it being a "making of" video, both crew and camera apparatus appear throughout. It was conceived and directed by filmmaker Steve Barron, and has at its core the interaction between a successful actress (also a 2nd negative cutter) played by Susan Ann Sulley walking out on "film director" Philip Oakey on a film set. It is loosely based on the film A Star Is Born. Near the end of the video, Wright, who also plays a film editor, has an expression on his face, while the camera pulls back to reveal that the negative room where Oakey, Wright, and Sulley were working in is another set (the camera can be seen in the mirror's reflection).

Filmed on a cold, wet, winter night, it was shot on 35mm film instead of the cheaper video tape prevalent at the time. Susan Sulley states now that Steve Barron was heavily influenced by the cinematography of the video for the Ultravox single "Vienna". Steve Barron was also influenced by François Truffaut and his film Day for Night, and because of that the clapper board seen in the video bears the inscription "Le League Humaine" as a tribute to Truffaut.

The video is credited for making Oakey, Sulley and Catherall visual icons of the early 1980s but became controversial later for a scene involving the murder-mystery film subplot where Jo Callis appears to shoot Catherall (and later in the video repeated with Oakey shooting Sulley) with a pistol from a car window (a Saab 99 turbo). The scene is cut out of the DVD version and usually on music television, replaced with a montage of other shots from the video edited in slow-motion. The other car that was used in the video is a gold W-Reg Rover SD1 – an iconic car of the time.

The video was released in December 1981, just as the music video culture was becoming an integral part of the pop music scene, and it was a major contribution to the song's commercial success.

Charts and certifications[edit]

Use in commercials[edit]

In 2001, Virgin Records allowed the song to be used in a Fiat Punto commercial, starring Myfanwy Waring and James Daffern, where the latter actor spoke lyrics from the first verse and chorus over the accompanying background music. Fiat's use of the song prompted legal action from The Human League, who lost the case to Virgin. Susan Sulley later complained: "Now even if we wanted to use the song for a more worthy company, we can't because it will always be associated with a particular brand."[32][unreliable source?]

In the late 2000s, the song was used to promote the Swifter mops.

The song was later used to promote the Cascadia Showerhead by Waterpik and the Chips Ahoy! biscuit brand in the late 2000s.

In the late summer of 2014, Foster Farms debuted a commercial featuring a large choir of chickens cluck-clucking the music of Don't You Want Me|Foster Farms Choir

Use in television[edit]

In an episode of Glee, "Blame It on the Alcohol," the song is featured as a duet between Rachel (Lea Michele) and Blaine (Darren Criss). This version was released as a single, and reached number fifty in Canada, forty-nine in the US, and forty-four in Australia.[citation needed] After, the song was released in Glee: The Music, Volume 5.

Use in sports[edit]

A campaign was started by Aberdeen F.C. fans in March 2014 to get the song to number one in the UK Top 40 singles chart after their Scottish League Cup final victory against Inverness CT.[33] The fans sing an alternative version to the song which replaces the main chorus with the lyrics "Peter Pawlett Baby" after one of their most popular players, Peter Pawlett.

The campaign received the backing of over 10,000 people on a Facebook page, as well as receiving coverage through local media such as Original 106 (Aberdeen) and Northsound 1 radio. The popular Aberdonian golfer, Paul Lawrie, who chose not to compete in a golf tournament to attend the final, promoted the campaign through his Twitter page. Numerous other public figures, including players such as Jamie Langfield joined in the campaign.

The song was played on BBC Radio 2 on 19 March, with Steve Wright singing "Peter Pawlett Baby" as the song ended. This was the first time the campaign had reached national news coverage.

The song peaked at No. 4 in the iTunes Download chart on 19 March 2014.[34] The following Sunday, 23 March, the song re-entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 19 and the Official Scottish charts at #1.[35]

Fans of Southampton F.C. have also been known to chant "José Fonte, baby" to the tune of the song's chorus in honour of their captain José Fonte.

Track listing[edit]

7" version[edit]

  1. "Don't You Want Me" – 3:57
  2. "Seconds" – 4:59

12" version[edit]

  1. "Don't You Want Me" – 3:57
  2. "Seconds" – 4:59
  3. "Don't You Want Me (Extended Dance Mix)" – 7:30


Mandy Smith version [edit]

"Don't You Want Me Baby"
Single by Mandy Smith
B-side "If It Makes You Feels Good"
Released 1989
Format CD single
7" single
12" single
Recorded 1989
Genre Pop
Length 3:44
Label PWL
Writer(s) Philip Oakey
Jo Callis
Philip Adrian Wright
Producer(s) Pete Hammond
Mandy Smith singles chronology
"Victim of Pleasure"
"Don't You Want Me Baby"
"I Just Can't Wait (92' Remixes)"

In 1989 Mandy Smith covered this song. The song was released after her album Mandy (1988). It was also Smith's final single. This song has a B-side, "If It Makes You Feel Good", which appeared on Smith's debut album.

Formats and track listings

CD Single

  1. "Don't You Want Me Baby"
  2. "If It Makes You Feel Good"
  3. "Don't You Want Me Baby" (Cocktail Mix)
  4. "If It Makes You Feel Good" (Extended Version)

7" Single

  1. "Don't You Want Me Baby"
  2. "If It Makes You Feel Good"

12" Single

  1. "Don't You Want Me Baby" (Cocktail Mix)
  2. "If It Makes You Feel Good" (Extended Version)


Chart (1989) Peak
UK Singles Charts 59
Irish Singles Chart 30
ITA Singles Charts 11
Swedish Tracks Charts 16

Alcazar version[edit]

"Don't You Want Me"
Single by Alcazar
from the album Casino
Released May 2002
Recorded 2001
Genre Eurodance
Length 03:27
Label RCA Records, BMG
Alcazar singles chronology
"Sexual Guarantee"
"Don't You Want Me"
"Not a Sinner Nor a Saint"
Casino (International Edition) track listing
"Breaking Free"
"Don't You Want Me"
"Shine On"

Don't You Want Me is a eurodance song performed by Swedish band Alcazar and released internationally in 2002. The song was included to the European version of Casino together with a few other, and was recorded in Stockholm at first, but when they wanted it for a new pan-European single, a whole new version was made.

The single was released in Australia as a follow up to the successful single "Crying at the Discoteque" and the release includes the "Ivan's X Mix" of CATD as a bonus. The white 12 inch was released in Europe and distributed to DJs to get maximum airplay at the disco arenas.

So far "Don't You Want Me" is the biggest hit for the group in United States, climbing to No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and staying on the chart for 15 weeks.

The Human League themselves have said that they like this version, as it is fairly true to the original; and Alcazar still performs this track at their live shows around the world.

The song is playable on the Karaoke Revolution games.

Music video

The video was filmed at Filmhuset in Stockholm, and once again Jesper Ganslandt directed it all. As always in Alcazar videos the storyline takes place in "Alcazar world" – and this time it all took place in "Circus Alcazar". The video is filled with horses, ducks, an evil parrot, acrobats and the Alcazar ballet.

The whole video shoot took almost 23 hours, and actually includes Annikafiore's boyfriend juggling with fire in the background The Alcazar dog Selma was styled in a pink ballerina dress and waited the whole day for the filming of her scene where she would perform jumps in the circus arena.

Formats and track listings[edit]

These are the formats and track listings of promotional single releases of "Don't You Want Me".

CD single
  1. "Almighty Radio Edit" – 3:27
  2. "Almighty Club Mix" – 7:25
  3. "Project Eden Remix" – 7:34
  4. "Earth Club Anthem" – 10:24
  5. "Wild Cowboys Radio Mix" – 3:38

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2002) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[36] 37
Belgian Singles Chart (Flanders)[37] 21
Dutch Singles Chart[38] 83
Finnish Singles Chart[39] 18
Swedish Singles Chart[40] 30
Swiss Singles Chart[41] 76
Hot Dance Club Play[42] 30
Japan[citation needed] 3

Other versions[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Lane, Daniel (27 June 2013). "Daft Punk's Get Lucky becomes one of the UK's biggest selling singles of all-time!". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Human League – Dont You Want Me Baby – Video, listening & stats at". 22 March 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Interview – Smash Hits Magazine – December 1981
  4. ^ Martin Rushent speaking on UK Channel 4 Documentary "Top 10 Electro Pioneers" BBC – 27 November 2001
  5. ^ "Human League Biography". Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  6. ^ Smash Hits Magazine December 1981
  7. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Dare! – The Human League | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  8. ^ Human League Interview – Eamon Homes GMTV 2001
  9. ^ "Rolling Stone 1983". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 
  10. ^ British Hit Singles and Albums (Guinness 19th Edition) Guinness World Records Limited; 20Rev Ed edition ISBN 978-1904994107 (2 June 2007)
  11. ^ a b "The Human League's Don't You Want Me tops Official Scottish Singles Ch". 23 March 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  12. ^ " – The Human League – Don't You Want Me" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  13. ^ "Results – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – The Human League search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  15. ^ "InfoDisc : Tout les Titres par Artiste" (in French). 23 June 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  16. ^ " – The Human League – Don't You Want Me". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  17. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. 2008. To use, type "Don't You Want Me" in the "Search by Song Title" search bar and click search. Retrieved 12 April 2013. 
  18. ^ "Hit Parade Italia – Indice per Interprete: H". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  19. ^ " – The Human League – Don't You Want Me". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  20. ^ " – The Human League – Don't You Want Me". VG-lista. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  21. ^ Brian Currin. "South African Rock Lists Website – SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (H)". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  22. ^ " – The Human League – Don't You Want Me". Singles Top 60. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  23. ^ " – The Human League – Don't You Want Me". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  24. ^ "January 1982/ Archive Chart: 9 January 1982" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  25. ^ "The Human League – Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  26. ^ a b The Human League. "The Human League – Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  27. ^ "ChartArchive – The Human League – Don't You Want Me {1995}". Retrieved 23 June 2012. 
  28. ^ "Radio 1 – Charts – The Official UK Top 40 Singles Chart". BBC. 23 March 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  29. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Human League – Don't You Want Me". Music Canada. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  30. ^ "British single certifications – Human League – Don't You Want Me". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 9 April 2012.  Enter Don't You Want Me in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  31. ^ "American single certifications – Human League – Don't You Want Me". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 9 April 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  32. ^ "Don't You Want Me by The Human League song facts". Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  33. ^ "Aberdeen fans set to put Human League single in official top 10". BBC News. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  34. ^ "Aberdeen fans score Human League hit". BBC News. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me tops Official Scottish Singles Chart". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  36. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alcazar – Don't You Want Me". Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  37. ^ "Alcazar – Don't You Want Me". Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  38. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alcazar – Don't You Want Me". Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  39. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alcazar – Don't You Want Me". Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  40. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alcazar – Don't You Want Me". Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  41. ^ Steffen Hung. "Alcazar – Don't You Want Me". Retrieved 18 September 2010. 
  42. ^ [1][dead link]
  43. ^ "Rocky Votolato and Matt Pond PA cover The Human League". Retrieved 22 March 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Don't Stand So Close to Me" by The Police
Top selling single of the year (UK)
Succeeded by
"Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners
Preceded by
"Begin the Beguine" by Julio Iglesias
UK number-one single
12 December 1981 – 9 January 1982
Succeeded by
"The Land of Make Believe" by Bucks Fizz
Preceded by
"There's No-one Quite Like Grandma" by St Winifred's School Choir
UK Christmas number-one single
Succeeded by
"Save Your Love" by Renée and Renato
Preceded by
"I Love Rock 'n' Roll" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Canadian RPM number-one single
15 May 1982
Succeeded by
"Ebony and Ivory" by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
Preceded by
"Ebony and Ivory" by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
US Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
3 July 1982 – 23 July 1982
Succeeded by
"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor