The duo formed in late 1981 after Clarke responded to an advertisement Moyet placed in a British music magazine, although the pair had known each other since their schooldays. Over the next 18 months the duo released two albums, Upstairs At Eric's, containing the hits "Only You" and "Don't Go" (and in the USA, "Situation", a B-side in the UK) and You and Me Both (containing the hit "Nobody's Diary"). Both received critical acclaim for their production, particularly the blending of Clarke's synthesizer melodies with Moyet's blues- and soul-influenced vocals.
Despite their success, the duo split acrimoniously in May 1983 as a result of what they would later attribute to a combination of Clarke's reluctance to make more records under the Yazoo name, a clash of personalities, and a lack of communication between the pair. Although their musical career was short, Yazoo's combination of electronic instrumentation and soulful female vocals has been cited as an influence on the house music scene that emerged in the mid-1980s, as well as on bands such as LCD Soundsystem (who name-checked the duo on their debut single "Losing My Edge"), Hercules and Love Affair (whose leader Andy Butler has said that "Situation" was his biggest musical inspiration), Shiny Toy Guns and Blaqk Audio.
In 2008, 25 years after splitting, Clarke and Moyet reconciled and reformed Yazoo to play a successful tour of the UK, Europe and North America in support of the reissue of Yazoo's two studio albums and a box set of their material titled In Your Room. The pair later further reunited briefly in May 2011 to play three Yazoo songs at a music festival organised by their record label.
Tropes related to Yazoo:
- The '70s: the subject of a massive Take That! in "Goodbye 70s".To your credit to the thirty faces you created
To your headache to the shape of the 1980's
I'm glad that we don't hear you any more
I'm tired of playing in your fashion war
- Armies Are Evil: "Unmarked" doesn't particularly paint a flattering picture on joining the Army.Go and join the army
Said the father to the son
See the world around you boy
And learn to use a gun
Think you're something special
Well, we'll make you just the same
There's nothing wrong in dying
After all, it's just a game
Just a game
- Broken Record: The second half of "Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I)" is just repetitions of the title and the phrase "All night".
- Market-Based Title: The band was known as Yaz in the U.S. due to a lawsuit from a record company with a similar name.
- Rhyming with Itself: "Unmarked" rhymes "on our side" with "the other side".
- Spoken Word in Music: The lyrics of "I Before E Except After C" are spoken normally as opposed to singing.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Vince sings "Happy People", his only lead vocal in any of the bands he's been in.
- Synth-Pop: One of the key "fire and ice" duos (cold synths with passionate vocals) of the second wave of Synth-Pop.
- Vocal Dissonance: Alison's voice is so deep, it's not uncommon for people hearing Yazoo to assume the singer is male.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Good luck trying to guess what "Situation" is about.Now, he's in control, he is my lover
Nations stand against him, he's your brother
Been a long time, been a long time now
I'll get to you somehow, yeah