If You Leave (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"If You Leave"
If You Leave 2.jpg
Single by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
from the album Pretty in Pink soundtrack
Released April 21, 1986 (1986-04-21)
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1986
Length 4:30
Label Virgin Records (UK)
A&M Records (US)
Songwriter(s) Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys, Martin Cooper
Producer(s) Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Tom Lord-Alge
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark singles chronology
"La Femme Accident"
"If You Leave"
"(Forever) Live and Die"

"La Femme Accident"
"If You Leave"
"(Forever) Live and Die"

"If You Leave" is a 1986 song by the British synthpop group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD). It was recorded for the soundtrack to the film Pretty in Pink (1986), in which it is played prominently during the final scene. Along with 1980's "Enola Gay",[1] the track has been described as the band's signature song.[2]

"If You Leave" is the group's highest-charting single in the United States, where it reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1986. The song was also a Top 5 entry in Canada and New Zealand, and charted at number 15 in Australia. A distinguishing track of the 1980s, it has had an enduring presence on radio.[3]


The band wrote "If You Leave" after John Hughes decided to change the ending to Pretty in Pink after poor test audience reactions. Hughes had asked the band for a song for the new ending two days before they were due to begin a tour, and "If You Leave" was written and recorded in under 24 hours as a result.[4] The song was deliberately written at a tempo of 120 BPM, to match the speed of "Don't You (Forget About Me)", which the dancers in the scene had initially danced to.[5] Despite this songwriter Andy McClusky later noted that an editing error meant that the dancing appears out of sync regardless.[5] The original ending featured another OMD song, "Goddess of Love", which was released on The Pacific Age later in 1986.[4]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Ian Cranna in Smash Hits wrote that "If You Leave" is "false and contrived and seems to last about 3 years" (but described UK B-side "88 Seconds in Greensboro" as "OMD at their blazing best").[6] On the other hand, Chicago Sun-Times journalist Dennis Hunt asserted that the track "is too good to be ignored".[7] Retrospectively, Alfred Soto of The Village Voice said it "starts promisingly" and features "admirably straightforward" lyrics, but concluded: "Gradually the annoyances become menaces. The parts are garish, overstated; it's a cluttered mix."[8] Trouser Press called the song a "dull ballad" that "was thankfully omitted from OMD's subsequent album, The Pacific Age".[9]

Conversely, Stereogum critic Ryan Leas considered the track to be among "the best songs of the '80s", and described its intro/chorus synthesizer melody as "one of the best sounds ever".[10] Andrew Unterberger in Stylus Magazine said that the "gorgeous" song makes the final scene of Pretty in Pink "one of the best in cinematic history".[11] AllMusic journalist Mike DeGagne named "If You Leave" as the best track from Pretty in Pink, adding that "its adult feel and smooth transition from stanza to chorus makes it [OMD's] most memorable song".[12]

Hugo Lindgren in The New York Times Magazine argued that the stateside popularity of "If You Leave" – as well as that of the similarly pop-oriented Crush (1985) – "obscured OMD's legacy as musical innovators" from US audiences, and marked a shift toward "making music for whoever signed the checks".[4] Listeners in OMD's native UK – where the band had gained an audience with edgy, experimental music – were particularly resistant to the track, which peaked at no. 48 on the UK Singles Chart.[13] Frontman Andy McCluskey commented: "It's a blessing to have such a big hit, but a shame that it overshadows so many other good songs for the US audience. We have many European fans who hate the song."[14]

Entertainment Weekly journalist Dana Falcone described "If You Leave" as a "now-classic tune" and "OMD's best-known song to Americans".[15] The track has been included in various "greatest songs" listings;[16][17][18][19][20][21] KOOL-FM named it the third-best new wave song of the 1980s,[16] while Time Out ranked it the 10th greatest track of 1980s cinema.[17]

In popular culture[edit]

The Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation, which was known in its early seasons for naming each episode after a 1980s hit song, named an episode after this song. On Modern Family, "If You Leave" is Phil and Claire Dunphy's song. However, Claire forgets this and thinks their song is "True" by Spandau Ballet.[22] In the Season 2 finale of The Goldbergs the song is played as Erica boards the plane on her way to her summer music school. Cover versions of the song have also been used in film and television.

Track listing[edit]

7": Virgin / VS 843 (UK)[edit]

  1. "If You Leave" – 4:30
  2. "88 Seconds in Greensboro" – 4:20

7": A&M/Virgin / AM 8669 (US)[edit]

  1. "If You Leave" – 4:24
  2. "Secret" – 3:57

7": A&M/Virgin / AM 2811 (US)[edit]

  1. "If You Leave" - 4:24
  2. "La Femme Accident" - 3:58

12": Virgin / VS 843-12 (UK)[edit]

  1. "If You Leave" (extended version) – 5:59
  2. "88 Seconds in Greensboro" – 4:20
  3. "Locomotion" (live version) – 3:50

12": A&M/Virgin / SP-12176 (US)[edit]

  1. "If You Leave" (extended version) – 5:59
  2. "La Femme Accident" (extended version) – 5:36

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[23] 15
New Zealand Singles Chart 5
UK Singles Chart 48
US Billboard Hot 100 4
US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 24
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales 31

Other appearances[edit]

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ O'Brien, Jon. "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Live in Berlin". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  2. ^ "'Now I'm bored and old': 27 deliberately confounding follow-ups to popular successes". The A.V. Club. 17 August 2009. Retrieved 26 December 2016. 
  3. ^ Wuench, Kevin (January 28, 2014). "Tuesday lost and found: OMD's 'Electricity'". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved October 3, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Lindgren, Hugo (May 10, 2013). "The Plot Against Rock". The New York Times Magazine. The New York Times Company. Retrieved October 20, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Macantosh, Dan. "ANDY MCCLUSKY OF OMD". Songfacts. Retrieved January 4, 2016. 
  6. ^ Cranna, Ian (May 7, 1986). "Single Reviews (OMD – '88 Seconds in Greensboro')". Smash Hits. 8 (10): 41. 
  7. ^ Hunt, Dennis (17 June 1986). "Hit single puts OMD in the pink". Chicago Sun-Times. HighBeam Research. Retrieved 19 October 2017. 
  8. ^ Soto, Alfred (19 June 2012). "OMD's 'If You Leave' Can't Get Out Of Here Soon Enough". The Village Voice. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  9. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". Trouser Press. Retrieved 2 January 2017. 
  10. ^ Leas, Ryan (February 12, 2016). "Neon Nostalgia". Stereogum. Retrieved October 2, 2016. 
  11. ^ Unterberger, Andrew (October 3, 2003). "Top Ten Musical Moments from Pretty in Pink". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved October 2, 2016. 
  12. ^ The Best of OMD at AllMusic.
  13. ^ "If You Leave" review at AllMusic.
  14. ^ "If You Leave by OMD". Songfacts. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  15. ^ Falcone, Dana (28 February 2016). "Pretty in Pink 30th anniversary: OMD 'If You Leave'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 18 October 2017. 
  16. ^ a b "Top 15 New Wave Songs of the '80s". KOOL-FM. April 18, 2016. Retrieved April 20, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b Chenr, Michael (March 18, 2014). "The 50 best songs from '80s movies". Time Out. Retrieved October 2, 2016. 
  18. ^ "CBS-FM's Thanksgiving 2015 Countdown of the Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". WCBS-FM. November 16, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2016. 
  19. ^ Top 500 Songs of the 80's-00's. Blender. 2005. Retrieved October 23, 2012. Archived at Acclaimed Music.
  20. ^ Terich, Terrance. The Top 200 Songs of the 80's: Part One. Treble. February 13, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2012.
  21. ^ "The 1001 Greatest Songs to Download Right Now!". Blender. October 2003.
  22. ^ "Modern Family "Great Expectations"". 
  23. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 224. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA from mid-1983 until June 19, 1988.
  24. ^ Matthew Solarski (November 19, 2008). "My Brightest Diamond, Frightened Rabbit Do Covers". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved June 26, 2010.