Open Your Heart (The Human League song)

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"Open Your Heart"
Single by The Human League
from the album Dare
Released28 September 1981[1]
Format7",12" Vinyl Single
RecordedGenetic Studios, Reading, England
GenreSynthpop, new wave
Songwriter(s)Philip Oakey, Jo Callis
Producer(s)Martin Rushent
The Human League singles chronology
"Love Action (I Believe in Love)"
"Open Your Heart"
"Don't You Want Me"

"Open Your Heart" is a song by the British synthpop group The Human League. It was released as a single in the UK in September 1981 and peaked at number six in the UK Singles Chart. It was written jointly by lead singer Philip Oakey and keyboard player Jo Callis. The song features a lead vocal by Oakey and female backing vocals by Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall, analogue synthesizers by Jo Callis, Philip Adrian Wright and Ian Burden. Drum machines, sequencing and programming were provided by producer Martin Rushent.


"Open Your Heart" was the last of three songs from the Dare album to be released in advance of the album itself. Unlike previous singles "The Sound of the Crowd" and "Love Action (I Believe in Love)", "Open Your Heart" was written specifically for the album Dare. It was chosen by Virgin executive Simon Draper to be Dare's taster single, deliberately issued just in advance of the album. It quickly reached number six in the UK singles chart and raised the band's profile to the highest it had been to that point. Issued only three weeks before Dare, the single acted as a powerful promotional vehicle for the album. The cover artwork and promotional video was deliberately coordinated with its parent album.[2]
It was the first Human League record sleeve to feature new band member Jo Callis, who co-wrote the song with Phil Oakey and who also wrote the B-side "Non-Stop" with Adrian Wright. In an interview in October 2009 Callis said, "I had started to work out both those tunes on guitar, playing along to an early drum machine which had about six preset drum patterns, Open Your Heart did translate better on the keyboard and I think we used the same drum machine with the same preset on the original demo which was done in the League's old 8 track studio in Sheffield".[3]


At the time, as a short-lived marketing tactic, The Human League were labeling their singles "Red" or "Blue" to help buyers differentiate between the band's musical styles. "Open Your Heart" was the first to be designated "Blue". When they were asked why, Susanne Sulley explained that "Red is for posers, for Spandy (Spandau Ballet) types." Oakey added: "Blue is for ABBA fans." [4]

Smash Hits magazine wrote at the time:

"You have to give the band their due. From being considered no-hopers, they're now Virgin's biggest (financial) hope. This is a number one. It's got everything - strong chorus, instant appeal and dreamboat topping."[5]

The single entered the UK Singles Charts at no. 21 on 6 October 1981. The band appeared on Top of the Pops the same week to perform the song. The following week it reached its no. 6 peak staying there for two consecutive weeks. The promo video rather than a repeat of the studio appearance was shown on Top of the Pops on 22 October by which time the parent album "Dare" had been released, entering the UK album charts at no. 2.


"Non-Stop" is an upbeat instrumental track, written Callis and Wright which was also remixed for the 12" release of Open Your Heart. Unlike previous B-sides, "Non-Stop" it was not included on the remix album Love and Dancing.

Promotional video[edit]

The music video which accompanies the original version of "Open Your Heart" was the first video that the band recorded. Previous Human League (Mk1) releases had been promoted with footage of the band onstage, interspersed with Philip Adrian Wright's slides and visuals. The preceding single "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" had originally been released without a video, but one was later recorded for its U.S. release in 1982.

Virgin Records and Oakey were keen to use the video to promote the future album as much as the current single, so video director Brian Grant borrowed heavily from the album’s imagery. The opening scene is a video montage of the portraits of the six band members exactly as they appear on the cover of the album. The band are all dressed and made up in the same style as Dare's photography. The video was shot in a studio on video tape and was mixed and enhanced using then cutting edge analogue video effects. Imagery of Oakey dominated most scenes, cut in with Sulley and Catherall dancing in slow motion and static shots of Wright, Callis, Burden. The video ends with a lingering shot on the actual cover of the then-unreleased Dare.


  1. ^ The Human League - Open Your Heart,
  2. ^ HUMAN LEAGUE BIOG 1977 - 1979 Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "The Jo Callis Interview". Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  4. ^ NME 3 October 1981
  5. ^ Smash Hits October 1981

External links[edit]