The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Accidental Legacies …

A few weeks ago, I read this:

It was said by Susan Ann Sulley, one of the singers in The Human League about their iconic song, ‘Don’t You Want Me’.

I have to admit, it has absolutely captivated me.

From the acknowledgement there was a real chance they could have put sleigh bells on the song if they thought it would chart over Christmas – which would have immediately made the song a novelty record rather than one of pop’s true classics – to her statement of simply being ‘an ordinary girl, doing her best’.

The level of honesty featured in those few lines is both breath-taking and disarming … especially given it comes from someone from within an industry that loves to big-talk itself, even when they haven’t had a Worldwide hit like Susan has.

To be honest, this openness is reflected in the entire article – which reinforces some ‘no nonsense’ Northern stereotype that adland likes to communicate over and over again.

But there’s something else I like about it …

Because while rigour and planning definitely increase the odds of success, the uncomfortable truth for all those companies, consultancies and self-anointed marketing masters who claim to have proprietary processes that ‘guarantee success’ is the legends, legacies and icons of culture owe far more of their good fortune to the beauty of happy accidents than an obsessive focus on the perfection of a process.

Said another way, they leave space for chaos rather than try to remove it.

I get it may sound counter-productive, but as Martin and I said way back in 2019 … chaos creates what order can’t.


21 Comments

I really like this post Robert. The quote is fantastic and reinforces how the fan sees the magic but the artist only notices the flaws.

Comment by George

stop being all fucking plannery.

Comment by andy@cynic

The magic of happy accidents.

Comment by Pete

When popstars could be your neighbors.

Comment by DH

what the fuck are you talking about?

Comment by andy@cynic

There were 2 sorts of popstars.

The stars,like Freddie Mercury … and the next door neighbours, such as Shakin’ Stevens [as long as he isn’t my neighbour]

Comment by Rob

if shakey was my neighbour id fucking kill myself.

Comment by andy@cynic

I always hated that song but this post made me listen to it again. I am ashamed to admit this blog had any influence over me.

Comment by DH

Backhanded endorsement.

Comment by Rob

I’ve listened to my first ever human league album.

Comment by DH

Funny how the article doesn’t mention Martin Rushent who completely transformed the original and added a lot of, in his words, ear candy to make it a pop song. He thought it was cheesy enough without having bells on.

Comment by John

That said, he also admitted to there being a lucky accident in the song. https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/human-league-dont-you-want-me

Comment by John

youre in full music nerd mode doddsy. good work.

Comment by andy@cynic

This interview is brilliant. His commentary on ‘the girls’ is fascinating. I wonder what their response would be. Based on the above, they may agree.

Comment by Rob

Of course it is! And Love and Dancing is a masterpiece.

Comment by John

dont know why youre all going off about how fucking amazing this interview is. watch the video for dywmb again and there should be no fucking surprises. they even have a shit old rover in the video for fucks sake. though for sheffield fucker, that was probably pure rolls royce.

Comment by andy@cynic

I think the difference between this interview and many other popstars of that era – or any era – is their honesty and acceptance of who they really are. This interview led me down a rabbit hole of Human League history and for all the glamour and drama they embedded, it still came from who they really were rather than trying to be someone who fitted the ‘popstar’ bill.

Comment by Rob

A small claim to fame. I wrote the original contract that signed The Human League to Virgin Records. Philip Oakey was a delightful character and surprisingly down to earth. I only met them once but this interview captures the timbre of their character.

Comment by Lee Hill

That’s amazing.

Comment by Rob

Avoiding someome whose contract you’ve drafted is a smart move.

Comment by John

I must admit I immediately looked up Phil Oakey’s net worth to see if the contract was more Colonel Parker than Santa Claus. Hahahaha.

Comment by Rob




Comments are closed.