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Music / Frankie Goes to Hollywood

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"The power of love,
A force from above,
Cleaning my soul.
Flame on burn desire,
Love with tongues of fire,
Purge the soul, make love your goal."
— "The Power of Love"

Frankie Goes to Hollywood was a British dance and pop band from Liverpool. Formed in 1980, the band eventually found success under the wing of producer Trevor Horn and became the flagship band of his Zang Tuum Tumb (or ZTT) record label. Their debut album, Welcome to the Pleasuredome, is considered a masterwork of Horn's production and featured the extremely popular singles "Relax", "Two Tribes" and "The Power of Love". "Relax" came under fire for featuring homoerotic lyricism and was banned by the BBC. Having two openly gay bandmembers — vocalists Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford — maybe didn't help.

1986 saw the release of Liverpool, their second album and the first to actually feature the band performing on it (Horn having overproduced Pleasuredome to the point where every note was played by Horn or session musicians; the only band member heard on the final record was Johnson). While charting high and having a successful lead single in "Rage Hard", Liverpool had much less of an impact. The band folded in 1987 after a world tour, when lead singer Holly Johnson was sued by ZTT for trying to sign to another record label for a solo career. The courts eventually sided with Johnson, noting the band's contract being highly restrictive. Johnson has since released material sporadically while he enjoys a career as a painter, while Rutherford released one solo album before retiring; the rest of the band have tried at various times to get back together, hiring vocalist Ryan Molloy from 2004-2007 to tour again.

Frankie Goes to Hollywood was also known for their very esoteric packaging: a form of Design Student's Orgasm courtesy of Paul Morley, in which every inch of space was covered either with text or with visuals (a technique used throughout the ZTT stable, including Art of Noise, Propaganda, Act, etc.) The single for "Two Tribes" famously included a chart detailing all of the biological effects of nuclear fallout on civilians, as well as a breakdown of the nuclear armament of the United States and Russia. Like other Trevor Horn-affiliated acts, Frankie also had a habit of releasing an excessive amount of remixes across every format available at the time, with unique mixes appearing in various territories.


  • Holly Johnson: lead vocals (1980-1987)
  • Paul Rutherford: vocals and "I came to dance" (1980-1987, 2004-2007)
  • Brian Nash: guitar (1982-1987)
  • Mark O'Toole: bass (1980-1987, 2004-2007)
  • Peter Gill: drums (1980-1987, 2004-2007)
  • Jed O'Toole: guitar (1980-1982, 2004-2007)
  • Ryan Molloy: lead vocals (2004-2007)


  • 1984 - Welcome to the Pleasuredome
  • 1985 - Bang - Japanese-only remix EP
  • 1986 - Liverpool


  • Badass Boast: The narration in some remixes of "Two Tribes" says: "You may pronounce us guilty a thousand times over, but the Goddess of the Eternal Court of History will smile and tear to tatters the brief of the state prosecutor and the sentence of this court, for she acquits us."
    • This is a bit of a Genius Bonus — the words are a translation of a speech given by Adolf Hitler at his trial over the Beer Hall Putsch.
  • Black Comedy: "Two Tribes", especially the extended mixes when Patrick Allen gets going: "Mine is the last voice you will ever hear."
  • Book Ends: "The Power of Love" begins and ends with the lyrics "I'll protect you from the hooded claw / Keep the vampires from your door".
  • Character Action Title
  • Christmas Songs: "The Power of Love" is often to be considered this due to its music video, which depicts the nativity, coupled with its being released at Christmas time. The song itself is a rather straightforward (as straightforward as anything produced by Trevor Horn with an epic orchestral arrangement by Anne Dudley ever is, that is) love ballad whose lyrics have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas whatsoever.
  • Epic Rocking: The title track of Welcome To The Pleasuredome, including its three intros, is 16 minutes long (13 without them.) It was banded as one track on vinyl and indexed as two on CD ("well…" and "The World Is My Oyster" on one, "snatch of fury (Stay)" and the title track on the other) and includes faux opera, a passage of acoustic guitar and vaguely Asian-sounding pizzicato, and birdsong and flute, before getting into the chugging rhythm of the title track.
  • Extreme Omnisexual: In one of the interview snippets used between tracks on the "Two Tribes" single, one of the band members claims to be this as Rule of Funny.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Although they didn't usually fade exactly, the singles were largely presented as programmes rather than individual tracks (CD singles without indexing, 12" singles without banding). The first side of Welcome to the Pleasuredome, originally pressed as one 16-minute block, did include fades, however.
  • I Am the Band: By some people's reckoning, producer Trevor Horn was this on the first album, with the actual band — apart from Holly Johnson — appearing very little on it (Stephen Lipson supposedly forced them to play on the second album "for their own good").
  • Intercourse with You:
    • "Relax" (as mentioned above) is about the singer trying to get the listener off.
    • The central theme of "Watusi Love Juicy" seems to be the singer asking the listener to forget their troubles and have sex with them instead.
    • "Krisco Kisses" is an ode to the joys of gay sex.
  • New Sound Album: Since the band were allowed to perform on their second album, Liverpool tips towards a rock sound.
  • The Place: Liverpool. Ironically, they were in tax exile at the time, so it was mainly recorded in The Netherlands.
  • Power Ballad: "The Power of Love", featuring a show-stopping arrangement by composer Anne Dudley.
  • Product Placement: "Krisco Kisses" is named after the Crisco brand of shortening, which was a popular impromptu lubricant for sexually active gay men in the '70s and '80s.
  • Protest Song: "Two Tribes", which lyrically portrayed glee in a pointless nuclear war between the United States and Russia.
  • Rearrange the Song: The singles were basically all about Trevor Horn and Steve Lipson showing off their skills at this. Horn said he originally released multiple edits to figure out how to really configure a song for the 7", 12" and album formats, but once he got the hang of it, he never stopped producing alternate versions.
    • "Relax" started out as a 18-minute studio jam, consisting only of the signature bass/hi-hat thump, Holly's singing and noises made by throwing objects or jumping into a pool. The version we currently recognize as "Relax" is actually the fifth released version of the song, with the pool sound and bass line being the only components kept through all versions.
    • The b-side of the "Warriors of the Wasteland" 7" single, "Warriors (Of the Wasteland)", featured Trevor Horn at the production helm, taking the rock song and giving it the same synthpop sheen he had given the band's first album.
  • Record Producer: Their first album was one of Trevor Horn's greatest triumphs as a producer. He didn't produce the follow-up, leaving it to his protege Stephen Lipson — which may at least partly account for its different sound.
  • Re-Cut: The original CD edition of Welcome to the Pleasuredome replaced "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" with "Happy Hi!" and included alternate mixes of several songs in place of the LP versions (most prominently sporting the Annihilation Mix of "Two Tribes"). The 25th anniversary edition would revert to the LP tracklist.
  • Remix Album: Reload! Frankie: The Whole 12 Inches and The Club Mixes 2000. Bang! and Twelve Inches also consist primarily of remixes with the exception of a couple of tracks each.
  • Re-release the Song: They're still a reliable banker for ZTT Records and their singles (well, those from the first album — Liverpool doesn't get quite the same love) have been endlessly reissued in countless configurations. Welcome to the Pleasuredome got some critical disdain for re-releasing "Relax", "Two Tribes" and "War" for the umpteenth time already.
  • Self-Demonstrating Song: One of the 12" mixes of "Rage Hard" has a female narrator explaining the track's structure, introducing the band and the instruments, and commenting on the music.
  • Shaking the Rump: "Watusi Love Juicy" implores the listener to "shake [their] booty".
  • Shout-Out:
    • Welcome to the Pleasuredome features several nods to Pink Floyd, including: the guitar solo on the title track (described in the liner notes as "the dark side of the mood solo"); the use of Studio Chatter; and the sound of both "the ballad of 32" and "Black Night White Light".
    • "The Power of Love" makes reference to The Hooded Claw.
    • The song "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" has a shout out to Kubla Khan.
    • "Rage Hard" alludes to Dylan Thomas' "Do not go gentle into that good night".
    • The "(+) mix" of "Rage Hard" — a single from the album Liverpool — begins with the narrator asking, "Listen: do you want to know a secret?"
    • "Warriors of the Wasteland" was inspired by T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland, as well as the Mad Max films.
    • The band's "FRANKIE SAY" shirts were inspired by Katharine Hamnett's "CHOOSE LIFE" anti-war shirts. According to Paul Morley, the choice of inspiration was born out of him reading that Hamnett openly wanted her shirts to be "ripped off."
  • Spelling Song: "Disneyland" features the recurring line "M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E".
  • Spoken Word in Music: As part of the ZTT aesthetic, several of their 12" remixes featured spoken word passages in them:
    • The first release of "Relax", the 18-minute "Sex mix", was basically Holly Johnson ad-libbing overtop of the bass line and kick drum.
    • "Two Tribes" featured both actor Chris Barrie (Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf) impersonating Ronald Reagan, and Patrick Allen reprising his role as narrator of Britian's Protect and Survive public information films on surviving nuclear fallout. B-side "War" also featured Barrie's Reagan impression, even on the album version. An extended version of the song adds a cut-up of Richard Nixon's 1960 presidential address.
    • "The Power of Love" featured Barrie again, this time impersonating DJ Mike Read, who famously refused to play "Relax" while on air.
    • "Welcome to the Pleasuredome" featured excerpts from Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, read by both Gary Taylor and Geoffrey Palmer.
    • "Rage Hard" featured a female narrator, describing the 12" remix format and commenting on the music as it occurs. She even brings out Paul Rutherford for comment, then whips him a few times with a whip-like sound effect.
    • The album Welcome to the Pleasuredome featured a Hidden Track in the center of the album called "(tag)", in which Barrie once again, this time impersonating Charles III, ruminates over the orgasm. There's also a spoken intro to their cover of "Born to Run", between Paul Rutherford and a female employer; a short skit introducing "the ballad of 32"; and the album ends with another Barrie voice exclaiming, "Frankie say: no more."
  • Stop and Go: Both "Relax" and "Two Tribes" do this.
  • Studio Chatter: The intro to "Krisco Kisses."
  • Take That!: The 12" version of "The Power of Love" begins with Chris Barrie impersonating Mike Read in a send-up of the DJ's refusal to play "Relax".
  • Wall of Text: The artwork for Welcome to the Pleasuredome and its accompanying singles were absolutely loaded with text by resident ZTT musical journalist Paul Morley, whose work also appeared on all ZTT artists' albums at the time. This includes both the myriads of anecdotal text scattered everywhere, as well as the factual text ("Two Tribes"' sleeve was covered with information about nuclear weapons.)