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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

    Relax Trax

    1 song

    Gay Anthems

    2 songs

    '90s Alternative

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