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Tears for Fears

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Tears for Fears were always more ambitious than the average synth pop group. From the beginning, the duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith were tackling big subjects -- their very name derived from Arthur Janov's primal scream therapy, and his theories were evident throughout their debut, The Hurting. Driven by catchy, infectious synth pop, The Hurting became a big hit in their native England, setting the stage for international stardom with their second album, 1985's Songs from the Big Chair. On the strength of the singles "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Shout," the record became a major hit, establishing the duo as one of the leading acts of the second generation of MTV stars. Instead of quickly recording a follow-up, Tears for Fears labored over their third album, the psychedelic and jazz-rock-tinged The Seeds of Love. While the album was a big hit, it was the end of an era instead of a new beginning. Smith left the group early in the '90s, and Orzabal continued with Tears for Fears, pursuing more sophisticated and pretentious directions to a smaller audience. Orzabal and Smith met as children in Bath, England. Both boys came from broken homes, and Smith was leaning toward juvenile delinquency. Orzabal, however, turned toward books, eventually discovering Arthur Janov's primal scream therapy, a way of confronting childhood fears that John Lennon embraced after the Beatles disbanded. Orzabal turned Smith on to Janov, but before the duo explored this theory further, they formed the ska revival band Graduate in the late '70s. After releasing a handful of singles, including "Elvis Should Play Ska," Graduate dissolved in the early '80s, and the duo went on to form Tears for Fears, a synth pop outfit directly inspired by Janov's writings. Riding in on the tail end of new wave and new romantic, Tears for Fears -- which featured musical contributions from former Graduate keyboardist Ian Stanley on early albums -- landed a record contract with Polygram in 1982. The following year, the band released its debut, The Hurting, which became a major hit in Britain, generating no less than three Top Five hit singles. Two years later, the group released Songs from the Big Chair, which demonstrated a more streamlined and soul-influenced sound. Songs from the Big Chair became a huge hit in America, rocketing to the top of the charts on the strength of the singles "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Shout," which both hit number one, and the number three "Head Over Heels," which were all supported by clever, stylish videos that received heavy MTV airplay. Instead of quickly following Songs from the Big Chair with a new record, Tears for Fears labored over their new record, eventually delivering the layered, Beatlesque The Seeds of Love in 1989. Featuring soulful vocals from Oleta Adams, who dominated the hit "Woman in Chains," the album became a hit, reaching number eight, while the single "Sowing the Seeds of Love" reached number two in the U.S. Again, Tears for Fears spent several years working on the follow-up to Seeds of Love, during which time they released the collection Tears Roll Down: Greatest Hits 82-92. Smith and Orzabal began to quarrel heavily, and Smith left the group in 1992, making Tears for Fears' 1993 comeback Elemental essentially a solo record from Orzabal. On the strength of the adult contemporary hit "Break It Down Again," Elemental became a modest hit, reaching gold status in the U.S., yet was hardly up to the group's previous levels. Smith, meanwhile, released a solo album in 1993, Soul on Board, which went ignored. Orzabal returned with another Tears for Fears album, Raoul and the Kings of Spain, in 1995, which failed to make much of an impact. In late 1996, the group released a rarities collection. In 2004, Orzabal reunited with Smith for the colorful and Beatlesque Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, their first collaboration in over a decade. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Stations Featuring
Tears for Fears

    '80s Alternative

    '80s Alternative
    8 songs

    New Wave

    New Wave
    6 songs

    Awesome '80s

    Awesome '80s
    4 songs

    Classic Hits

    Classic Hits
    3 songs

    Lite Hits

    3 songs

    Coffeehouse Corner

    1 song

    Shuffle Hits

    3 songs

    Adult Alternative

    2 songs

    Adult Rock

    2 songs

    Gay Anthems

    2 songs

    '90s Alternative

    1 song

    Relax Trax

    1 song

Albums by
Tears for Fears

Top Songs by
Tears for Fears

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Everybody Wants to Rule the World
  3.   Head Over Heels
  4.   Shout
  5.   Mad World
  6.   Sowing the Seeds of Love
  7.   Pale Shelter
  8.   Change
  9.   Break It Down Again
  10.   Mothers Talk
  11.   Ashes to Ashes
  12.   Start of the Breakdown
  13.   Ideas as Opiates
  14.   The Hurting
  15.   Woman in Chains
  16.   Everybody Wants to Run the World
  17.   Advice for the Young at Heart
  18.   Broken
  19.   Year of the Knife
  20.   Listen
  21.   Head over Heels/Broken
  22.   The Working Hour
  23.   Sketches of Pain
  24.   I Believe
  25.   Goodnight Song
  26.   Elemental
  27.   Badman's Song
  28.   Swords and Knives
  29.   Bloodletting Go
  30.   Mr. Pessimist
  31.   The Way You Are
  32.   Me and My Big Ideas
  33.   Sorry
  34.   Falling Down
  35.   Sea Song
  36.   The Marauders
  37.   Power
  38.   Dog's a Best Friend's Dog
  39.   The Conflict
  40.   Famous Last Words
  41.   Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down)
  42.   I Choose You
  43.   Raoul and the Kings of Spain
  44.   Suffer the Children
  45.   Memories Fade
  46.   Brian Wilson Said
  47.   Gas Giants
  48.   Fish Out of Water
  49.   My Life in the Suicide Ranks
  50.   Broken/Head Over Heels
  51.   We Are Broken
  52.   Last Days on Earth
  53.   Killing With Kindness
  54.   Secret World
  55.   The Devil
  56.   Who You Are
  57.   Quiet Ones
  58.   Who Killed Tangerine?
  59.   Size of Sorrow
  60.   Call Me Mellow
  61.   Closest Thing to Heaven
  62.   Everybody Loves a Happy Ending
  63.   Broken Revisited
  64.   Standing on the Corner of the Third World
  65.   Don't Drink the Water
  66.   Humdrum and Humble
  67.   Los Reyes Católicos (Reprise)
  68.   God's Mistake
  69.   Secrets
  70.   Music for Tables
  71.   The Prisoner
  72.   Watch Me Bleed
  73.   Empire Building
  74.   Lord of Karma
  75.   The Body Wah
  76.   New Star
  77.   Tears Roll Down
  78.   Deja Vu & The Sins of Science
  79.   Schrodinger's Cat
  80.   The Big Chair
  81.   Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams
  82.   Cold
  83.   Always in the Past
  84.   Ghost Papa
  85.   When in Love with a Blind Man
  86.   Pharaohs
  87.   Ladybird
  88.   Wino
  89.   Roland & Curt Interviewed
  90.   Interview with Curt & Roland