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
Songwriter(s) Gary Kemp
Producer(s) Jolley & Swain
Spandau Ballet singles chronology

"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] The song is written in the key of G major. It has a tempo of 98 BPM and a chord progression of G, Em, C/G, Bm. The song changes key when it hits the instrumental break. The instrumental break is in the key of E♭Major.[6][7]


In 2015, the song was voted by the British public as the nation's tenth favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.[8] However, it has also been named as one of the worst songs ever recorded,[9][10][11][12] with the lyrical content gaining particular derision from Guardian journalist Luke Williams[9] and the NME.[13]

Track listing[edit]

7": Chrysalis / SPAN1 (UK)[edit]

Side one
  1. "True" – 5:40
Side two
  1. "Lifeline (edities remix for U.S.A.)" – 3:34

7": Chrysalis / VS4 42720 (US)[edit]

Side one
  1. "True" - 5:40
Side two
  1. "Gently" - 4:01

12": Chrysalis / SPANX1 (UK)[edit]

Side one
  1. "True" - 6:30
Side two
  1. "Lifeline (remix edited for U.S.A.)" - 5:15
  2. "Lifeline (a capella)" - 2:01

1991 CD: Chrysalis / CHSCD 3793 (UK)[edit]

  1. "True (edit)" - 5:36
  2. "Lifeline (edited remix)" - 3:39
  3. "Heaven is a Secret" - 4:24
  4. "Pleasure" - 3:30

Chart history[edit]

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.[35] The opening sequence of "True" is sampled in the song "Ask About Me" by Girl Talk on the 2006 album Night Ripper.

American alternative rock band Lazlo Bane covered the song for the 2009 film I Love You, Beth Cooper. However, it was not featured on the official soundtrack.[36]

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


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gantt, Kareem (15 January 2015). "Spandau Ballet's 'True' is so-so, but most of this album is formulaic new wave". AXS. Retrieved 25 June 2016. 
  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. ^ a b 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. ^ [1]
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ a b "England v Australia - as it happened!". The Guardian. 12 September 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  10. ^ "Spandau Ballet's 'True'". St. Petersburg Times. 19 October 2006. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  11. ^ "The best and worst love songs of all time". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  12. ^ "10 Songs We Never, Ever Want to Hear Again, Ever". Houston Press. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  13. ^ "50 worst pop lyrics of all time". NME. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  14. ^ " – Spandau Ballet – True" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  15. ^ "Adult Contemporary". RPM. 39 (11). 12 November 1983. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  16. ^ "Top Singles". RPM. 39 (9). 29 October 1983. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "TOP Hebdo". TOP Hebdo. Retrieved 31 January 2016.  Note: choose "1983", and then "15/10/1983".
  18. ^ "Song artist 726 - Spandau Ballet". The World's Music Charts. Retrieved 1 September 2015. 
  19. ^ " – Spandau Ballet Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  20. ^ "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  21. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: S". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  22. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Spandau Ballet" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  23. ^ " – Spandau Ballet – True". Top 40 Singles.
  24. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 978-84-8048-639-2. 
  25. ^ " – Spandau Ballet – True". Swiss Singles Chart.
  26. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  27. ^ "Spandau Ballet Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  28. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, November 5, 1983
  29. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  30. ^ "Top 100 Singles of 1983 – Volume 39, No. 17, December 24 1983". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 3 January 2018. 
  31. ^ "End of Year Charts 1983". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 3 January 2018. 
  32. ^ "Top 50 Singles of 1983". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications: 25. 25 December 1983. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 31, 1983
  35. ^ "Joanna Wang cover of Spandau Ballet's True". WhoSampled. 
  36. ^ "Soundtracks for I Love You, Beth Cooper". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 

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