True (Spandau Ballet song)

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Artwork for vinyl releases
Single by Spandau Ballet
from the album True
B-side "Gently"
Released 14 April 1983
Recorded October–November 1982
Genre New wave[1]
  • 4:58 (promo 45 edit)
  • 5:39 (single version)
  • 6:08 (12-inch version)
  • 6:29 (album version)
Label Chrysalis
Writer(s) Gary Kemp
Producer(s) Jolley & Swain
Spandau Ballet singles chronology
file info · help

"True" is a song by the English band Spandau Ballet. It was released on 14 April 1983 as the third single from their third studio album of the same name. The song was written by band member Gary Kemp.

The song was a huge worldwide hit, peaking at number one in the UK Singles Chart on 30 April 1983 for four weeks,[2] becoming the sixth biggest selling single of the year, and charting highly in 20 other countries. It is Spandau Ballet's biggest hit and their only major hit in the U.S., reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in the autumn of 1983 and topping the adult contemporary chart for one week.[3]

In 1985, the band performed the song during Live Aid. A new mix by Tony Swain and Gary Kemp was released in 2002 on the compilation album Reformation.

On 30 April 2008, the single celebrated its 25th anniversary, and in honour, EMI released a brand new True EP on 5 May 2008, which included the original single, the new mix found on Reformation and the remastered album version, plus a live recordings of "True" and "Gold" from the last show of the group's 1983 tour at Sadlers Wells.

A notable omission is that Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp did not perform on the track, rather a bass synthesizer was used instead. However, Kemp would play in his capacity for future live performances.

Background and writing[edit]

It was composed by group leader Gary Kemp who wrote the song at his parents' house, where he lived at the time.[4] It is a six-minute (in its original album version) song that in part pays tribute to the Motown artist Marvin Gaye, who is mentioned in the lyrics, and the sound he helped to establish.[5] The song was recorded before Gaye's murder a year later. The song was also partly about Kemp's platonic relationship with Altered Images singer Clare Grogan. Some phrases in the lyrics (including the much-quoted reference to "seaside arms") were adapted from Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita, a copy of which Grogan had given Kemp.[4]


In 2015, the song was voted by the British public as the nation's tenth favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.[6] However, it has also been named as one of the worst songs ever recorded,[7][8][9][10] with the lyrical content gaining particular derision from Guardian journalist Luke Williams[7] and the NME.[11]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "True" – 5:39
  2. "Gently" – 4:01


Chart (1983) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) 4
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[12] 9
Canadian Adult Contemporary (RPM)[13] 5
Canadian Top Singles (RPM)[14] 1
France (Singles Chart)[15] 13
France (Airplay Chart)[16] 7
Germany (Official German Charts)[17] 9
Ireland (IRMA)[18] 1
Italy (FIMI)[19] 39
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[20] 4
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[21] 4
Spain (AFYVE)[22] 3
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[23] 5
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[24] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[25] 4

Covers and samples[edit]

Parts of the original version have been sampled and used in a number of songs—most notably P.M. Dawn's 1991 U.S. number-one hit "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss", which contains samples of the song's keyboard hook and vocals from the chorus. P.M. Dawn's song was also covered by the Backstreet Boys. The song was also sampled in 1997 on the song "Serenade" by R&B all-female group Shades, by US female rapper Queen Pen on her 1998 single "It's True", and again in 2005 on the Nelly song "'N' Dey Say". There is also a remix of "Happy People" by R. Kelly that utilizes a sample from this song.

Lloyd's "You" contains an interpolation of "True". Texas rapper Z-Ro used the sample for his song "Continue 2 Roll". Other notable covers include "Be There" by Silkk the Shocker, "True" by Underworld 805 Family, and "True" by Soul:ID.

Paul Anka released a swing version of the song on his 2005 album, Rock Swings where he changes the line "listening to Marvin" into "listening to Ella", in tribute to Ella Fitzgerald. Other pop versions include covers by Arnee Hidalgo and Joanna Wang.[26] The opening sequence of "True" is sampled in the song "Ask About Me" by Girl Talk on the 2006 album Night Ripper.

The piano melody in "True" at approximately 4:20 in the song is interpolated during the chorus of the Backstreet Boys song "I Want It That Way".

Duvall covered the song on their 2003 album Volume & Density.

A cover performed by Cary Brothers appears in the film Sky High (2005).

American alternative rock band Lazlo Bane covered the song for the 2009 film I Love You, Beth Cooper. However, it wasn't featured on the official soundtrack.[27]

Cézaire, a French electronic music producer, sampled portions of "True" in 2012 for a song of the same title. Reggae singer Elephant Man covers his song "Tek It to the World" in 2013.

In the film The Wedding Singer, Steve Buscemi sings the song at the end of the film.

A modified version by & Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas appeared in the closing credits to the film 50 First Dates.

The Backstreet Boys sang part of the chorus during their song "Bigger", on their 2009 This Is Us Tour.[28]

In the film Pixels, this song was sung during the ballroom dance scene by the live band.

Nora En Pure sampled "True" on her track "Saltwater (2015 Rework)".


Appearances in media[edit]

The song was featured in several films, TV shows and video games including Sixteen Candles, Sky High, Spaced, Modern Family, Ashes to Ashes, Veronica Mars,[29] Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Defiance, Master of None and Scream Queens.

In the E4 drama Skins, JJ sang the song with ukuleles to win back the affections of Lara Lloyd.

On the TV show Popular, "True" was referenced as one of the April Tuna's favorite songs in the episode "The News of My Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated".

The song appears very briefly in the trailer for Monsters University.

In The Simpsons episode, "Future-Drama", it was heard during the slow dance sequence. It can also be heard briefly during Homer and Marge's second wedding at the end of "A Milhouse Divided".

The song is featured in the 2003 movie Grind

The song is featured in the 2003 movie Duplex, starring Ben Stiller.

The song was featured in the Family Guy episode "Run, Chris, Run."

The song is featured in the movie Pixels, with the chorus sung in Hindi.

The track is also heard in the 2016 adult-rated animated film Sausage Party.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gantt, Kareem (2015-01-15). "Spandau Ballet's 'True' is so-so, but most of this album is formulaic new wave". AXS. Retrieved 2016-06-25. 
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 422–423. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 228. 
  4. ^ a b Simpson, Dave; Kemp, Gary; Norman, Steve (14 May 2012). "How we made: Gary Kemp and Steve Norman on True". The Guardian. London. 
  5. ^ "The Band". Official Spandau Ballet website. Retrieved 19 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (25 July 2015). "The Nation's Favourite 80s Number One: 12 more classic 80s chart-toppers which didn't make the cut". Metro. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "England v Australia - as it happened!". The Guardian. 12 September 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  8. ^ "Spandau Ballet's 'True'". St. Petersburg Times. 19 October 2006. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  9. ^ "The best and worst love songs of all time". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  10. ^ "10 Songs We Never, Ever Want to Hear Again, Ever". Houston Press. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  11. ^ "50 worst pop lyrics of all time". NME. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  12. ^ " – Spandau Ballet – True" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  13. ^ "Adult Contemporary". RPM. 39 (11). 12 November 1983. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "Top Singles". RPM. 39 (9). 29 October 1983. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  15. ^ "TOP Hebdo". TOP Hebdo. Retrieved 31 January 2016.  Note: choose "1983", and then "15/10/1983".
  16. ^ "Song artist 726 - Spandau Ballet". The World's Music Charts. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  17. ^ " – Spandau Ballet Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  18. ^ "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  19. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: S". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Spandau Ballet search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  21. ^ " – Spandau Ballet – True". Top 40 Singles.
  22. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 978-84-8048-639-2. 
  23. ^ " – Spandau Ballet – True". Swiss Singles Chart.
  24. ^ "April 1983/ Archive Chart: 30 April 1983" UK Singles Chart.
  25. ^ "Spandau Ballet – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Spandau Ballet.
  26. ^ "Joanna Wang cover of Spandau Ballet's True". WhoSampled. 
  27. ^ "Soundtracks for I Love You, Beth Cooper". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  28. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  29. ^ "The Music of Veronica Mars: Episode 1-15: "Ruskie Business"". Mars Investigations: The (In)Complete Guide to Veronica Mars. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Let's Dance" by David Bowie
UK number one single
30 April 1983
(for four weeks)
Succeeded by
"Candy Girl" by New Edition