Together we'll break these chains of love.
Don't give up, don't give up,
Together with me and my baby break the chains of love.
In 1985 keyboardist Vince Clarke, having firstly parted ways with Depeche Mode and then with his subsequent Yazoo partner Alison Moyet, took an ad out in Melody Maker magazine looking for a new singer to work with. Some 40 respondents showed up at the recording session, each performing two songs Clarke had written for the session. The second-to-last audition of the session was a shy young butcher named Andy Bell. As soon as Andy famously burst into falsetto on the chorus of "Who Needs Love Like That?", Vince knew he had found what he was looking for. They released the track almost immediately, and Erasure was born.
A Synth-Pop duo, Erasure's style is characterized by rich synthesizer backdrops, upbeat dance-oriented beats, Bell's soaring four-octave range, and one-man multi-part harmonies.
Bell was one of the first openly gay performers in the pop music industry, and his voice is regarded as one of the greatest in British soul. They are one of Britain's most successful pop acts, with five Number One albums and 40 Top 40 hits.
Although they are most commonly known today in certain circles as "The band that wrote the song to Robot Unicorn Attack".
- Wonderland (1986)
- The Circus (1987)
- The Innocents (1988)
- Wild! (1989)
- Chorus (1991)
- Abba-esque (1992)
- I Say I Say I Say (1994)
- Erasure (1995)
- Cowboy (1997)
- Loveboat (2000)
- Other People's Songs (2003)
- Nightbird (2005)
- Union Street (2006)
- Light at the End of the World (2007)
- Tomorrow's World (2011)
- Snow Globe (2013)
- The Violet Flame (2014)
- World Be Gone (2017)
- The Neon (2020)
This band provides examples of:
- Always Second Best: Although completely overshadowed by Andy Bell and Alison Moyet, Vince is a pretty good singer himself. He initially handled lead vocals for Depeche Mode, before he recruited Dave Gahan. He also sang one song, "Happy People", while with Yazoo.
- The band itself was generally loathed by the British music press, who characterised them as the poor man's Pet Shop Boys.
- Anti-Christmas Song: "She Won't Be Home".
- Break-Up Song: Most of their songs are either this or Silly Love Songs. Examples that hit the charts: "Oh L'Amour", "Victim of Love", and "Love to Hate You".
- Camp: They absolutely revel in it. Just the tip of the iceberg: One concert involved Andy wearing a giant feather boa and being wheeled onstage in a giant swan.
- Camp Gay: Andy, on stage.
- Cover Version: Other People's Songs is a whole album full of, um, other people's songs. 1992's Abba-esque EP, their only UK Number One single, was a four-track collection of all ABBA covers in Erasure's distinctive hi-NRG synthpop style.
- The latter received an immediate response in kind from top ABBA tribute band Björn Again, who promptly put out a single with ABBA-style covers of "A Little Respect" and "Stop!" entitled... Erasure-ish.
- Endless Winter: The music video for "Always" features a Kabuki Theatre-style demon who was intent on creating an eternal winter. Andy Bell portrays the nature god who defeats him.
- Epic Rocking: The Self-Titled Album brings us two examples, "Sono Luminus" (7:52), and "Rock Me Gently" (10:01). The single mix for the latter, however, shaves six minutes off.
- Gaia's Vengeance: Arguably, "Chorus". They also covered Cerrone's "Supernature" as a B-side.
- Gayngst: "Hideaway".Oh my father, why don't you talk to me now?Oh my mother, do you still cry yourself to sleep?Are you still proud of your little boy?
- Possibly "Run to the Sun" as well.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Yes, straight male fans do exist. Vince used to state this in the band's early days, but gave up by the time Abba-esque came out and just ran with the Camp.
- Intercourse with You: "Sexuality", "Sometimes". The latter had to be performed with alternate lyrics in one TV appearance.
- Lighter and Softer: Cowboy attempted to be this to Erasure, showing a return to fluffy three-minute pop songs.
- Literal-Minded: The video for ''A Little Respect'' is this, along with a generous helping of Visual Puns.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Fingers & Thumbs". The verses and tune are fairly happy, but then you get to the chorus and realize it's about AIDS.
- Mistaken for Gay: Happens to Vince all the time.
- New Sound Album: Basically every other one. Wild! was their first use of MIDI, Erasure was heavily influenced by prog-rock, Loveboat was their "indie" album and Union Street was entirely acoustic.
- One-Woman Wail: Diamanda Galás's appearances on the Erasure album.
- Performance Video: "Love to Hate You", combined with Behind The Scenes Video.
- Rhyming with Itself: "Always" — "Open your eyes, I see/Your eyes are open/Wear no disguise for me/Come into the open". Usually forgiven for its early 2010s status as Awesome Music du jour.
- Sampling: Only once — "Love to Hate You" is driven by an interpolation of the riff from "I Will Survive".
- Self-Empowerment Anthem: "Chains of Love". It's worded generically enough that it doesn't have to be about gay couples specifically, but it's hard to read it as anything but a call-to-arms for lovers in proscribed romances.
- Self-Titled Album: Their seventh album. Ironically, its style is quite different from their usual material.
- Silly Love Songs: Quite a lot of them are either this or Breakup Songs.
- Studio Chatter: The intro to "Star".
- Synthetic Voice Actor: "Video Killed The Radio Star" on Other People's Songs is sung by Vince's laptop. Depending on whom you ask, Andy either thought it was a stupid song and wouldn't cover it or didn't think his voice could do the song justice.
- The lead vocal on 1989's "Drama!" b-side "Sweet, Sweet Baby" is a Speak & Spell machine.
- The Cover Changes the Gender: Averted. All of their covers leave the pronouns intact, which works with songs sung by women but gives an odd effect in "Everyday".
- The Quiet One: Vince, the archetypal "miserable keyboardist", in marked contrast to Andy's onstage flamboyance.
- Uncommon Time: "Always" inserts an extra beat at the end of every chorus.
- Vocal Dissonance: Andy is a slender and kinda frail-looking blond man... who sings like this.
- Visual Pun: The video for "A Little Respect" is a visual Hurricane of Puns. Right down to the Title Drop ("give a little respect to me") being represented by someone off-camera handing Andy a small sign that reads "respect".
- Wholesome Crossdresser: The music videos for "Who Needs Love Like That?" and "Take A Chance On Me" feature Vince and Andy dancing around in drag. That's not even touching on the live performances. Fortunately, Vince at least looks pretty nice in makeup.
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: When they covered ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me", they apparently concluded that one thing missing from the original was raggamuffin toasting. Cue MC Kinky for the bridge.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Mild examples show up here and there, due to the nature of the songwriting process. Andy makes up gibberish to sing while developing the vocals, and sometimes they just keep it.