Recording an album that a million people purchase is no mean feat, but doing so is not always a benchmark of musical quality. Celebrity ( and notoriety ), timing, even technology such as the viral internet video can propel the likes of Milli Vanilli, Billy Ray Cyrus, Vanilla Ice, and Ashlee Simpson past the million sales mark only to be relegated to trivia contests at best, punch-lines at the worst. However, to get over ten million or more people to buy your album, as in the case of Tears for Fears and Songs from the Big Chair in 1985, is in no way trivial or a joke. It implies with it a measure of universal approval that transcends time, geography, and that most indefinable of attributes, taste. To sell through to more than ten million individuals, the music’s appeal has to spread horizontally across a wide cross-section of age, ethnicity, education, financial and lifestyle strata.
That’s precisely what Tears for Fears did in Summer 1985, displacing Bruce Springsteen‘s Born in the USA , Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required, and Dire Straits‘ Brothers in Arms at the top of the US sales chart with only their second effort, Songs from the Big Chair . While the two individuals’ names, Roland Orzabal and my guest here Curt Smith who then and now comprise Tears for Fears, may indeed be the stuff of ’80s Trivia Night down at your local pub, the songs “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, “Head Over Heels“, and the #1 “Shout” on the ten million-plus seller…Big Chair give no indication of becoming comical any time soon, unless you count laughing all the way to the bank. -Redbeard