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Tears for Fears

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