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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

    Relax Trax

    1 song

    Adult Alternative

    2 songs

    Adult Rock

    2 songs

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