In short, you always know when you’re watching an ’80s music video, and if you want an example, then look no further than Dead or Alive’s 1984 hit “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).”
If that song didn’t start playing in your heard the moment you read the title, you’ve never heard it before. If so, then you should go and listen to it right now because this is the kind of music you need in your life. It’s loud, expressive, imaginative, overflowing with style, and incredibly catchy.
But who was the band behind the song?
The story of Dead or Alive begins in Liverpool in 1977 when vocalist Pete Burns formed his first band, a short-lived group called The Mystery Girls. Although Mystery Girls only ever played one gig, it was the beginning of a long career for Burns.
Their first real chart success was 1982’s “The Stranger”–a dark post-punk melody with New Wave influences–but the band took off in ’85 when they put out their second album Youthquake, from which the big hit was the unforgettable “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).”
The song, according to Burns, was inspired by Luther Vandross’ “I Wanted Your Love” and “See You’ Round Like A Record” by Little Nell–famous for her appearance as Colombia in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Although the song does not sample from either, the inspiration is quite apparent. There are stylistic similarities, particularly with Vandross’ “I Wanted Your Love,” but at the same time, you’d be hard pushed to claim that there was even a hint of plagiarism at work.
An Unexpected Chart Topper
In case you couldn’t guess, “You Spin Me Right Round (Like a Record)” was the band’s first song to top the UK singles chart and hit No.1 in Canada and No.11 in the US.
While the song’s success might seem evident, it wasn’t so apparent to the record label or the production team in 1984. In fact, according to Burns, the record label had next to no faith in the single, and the song only got recorded because he took out a £2500 loan. Even after it was finished, the label still didn’t think much of the song, and the band ultimately funded the music video themselves.