The Human League Wiki
The Sound of the Crowd UK 7in front.jpg

The Sound of the Crowd is the title of a song written by Oakey/Burden, recorded and released as a single by The Human League in 1981.

It was the first song to feature the voices of newly recruited female vocalists Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall and was also the group's first single to enter the UK Top 20, peaking at the no. 12 position in May 1981.

It was also the group's first single to be produced by Martin Rushent. A slightly different recording of the song using the Linn drum machine was included on the Dare album, released later in the year.

The song has been included on all the group's hits compilation albums, although A Very British Synthesizer Group (2016) features the longer instrumental version.

Content and lyrics[]

The song was written as a dance track (hence the 'RED' marking) and carries strong drum and bass lines. The structure of the song is fairly conventional in that it follows the verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus structure although the end of the chorus is punctuated with a rousing non-verbal 'whoah-whoah' singing and synthetic handclap sound, which recalls the Travelogue version of "Being Boiled ".

The verse lyrics were written by Ian Burden who had originally intended them just as a demonstration to Oakey for the vocal parts. Burden has described them as "stream of consciousness words". The chorus lyric was written by Oakey.[1]

Oakey has said of the lyrics: "It's some analogy of Ian Burden's which has to do with hairdressing. Literally, the words are about hairdressing and putting make-up on. Which he didn't do a lot of, himself. He wasn't particularly glam. But he seemed to have a fixation with how the mechanics of getting your hair washed related to your life."[2]

Single release[]

The song was issued in both 7" and 12" formats in the UK. Track timings were not stated on the release.

Track listing[]

Virgin 7" single - VS 416

A. The Sound of the Crowd

B. The Sound of the Crowd (Add Your Voice)

Virgin 12" single - VS 416-12

A. The Sound of the Crowd (complete)

B. The Sound of the Crowd (instrumental)


No credits are given for the overall sleeve design except for Photographs by Adrian Wright. Designs for the 7" and 12" versions are basically the same.

Promo video[]

No promo video was made for the single although the group appeared on the weekly BBC programme Top of the Pops to perform the song. The first performance was broadcast on 30 April 1981 when the single was at no. 53, and the second on 21 May when the single had reached no. 15. Both performances featured the group as a five-piece, miming to a slightly edited version of the 7" version, with two keyboards and three reel-to-reel tape recorders.

Video recordings of both performances are featured on the DVD included with the deluxe edition of the A Very British Synthesizer Group compilation (2016).

Chart performance[]

Date Position
28.04.1981 53
05.05.1981 34
12.05.1981 27
19.05.1981 15
26.05.1981 12
02.06.1981 18
09.06.1981 21
16.06.1981 30
23.06.1981 52
30.06.1981 58

Versions and remixes[]

Version Timing Available on Notes
original 7" version 3:56
  • "The Sound of the Crowd" 7", side A
  • Greatest Hits (1988)
  • Greatest Hits (1995)
"Add Your Voice" 4:10
  • "The Sound of the Crowd" 7", side B
"Complete" 6:31
  • The Sound of the Crowd 12", side A
  • The Sound of the Crowd EP (Canada, 1981)
  • Original Remixes and Rarities
  • Dare/Fascination! (2012)
"Instrumental" 4:10
album version 4:06
  • Dare (1981)
  • Dare/Love and Dancing (2002)
  • The Very Best of the Human League (2003)
  • Dare/Fascination! (2012)
Love and Dancing version 2:43
  • Love and Dancing (1982)
  • Dare/Love and Dancing (2002)
as The League Unlimited Orchestra
"Trisco's Popclash" mix 7:20
  • The Very Best of The Human League (2003)
"Freaksblamredo" mix 6:12
  • The Very Best of The Human League (2003)
"Riton Re-rub" mix 4:27
  • The Very Best of The Human League (2003)
Extended Family Vocal" mix 5:51
  • Electrospective: The Remix Album (2012)

Cover versions[]

Kelly Osbourne included a cover version of the song, entitled "Sound of the Crowd", on the CD2 of her single One Word (2005).[3]


  1. The Ian Burden Interview
  2. The Dare Special on black hit of, originally in the 'Dare 2007 Tour' programme
  3. Kelly Osbourne - One Word (CD2) on