Zane Lowe On The Power Of Spandau Ballet

Jan 9, 2020
Originally published on January 14, 2020 12:02 pm

Last week, Morning Edition began a series called One-Hit Wonders / Second-Best Songs. Each segment focuses on a musician or band whose career in the United States is defined by a single monster hit, and explains why their catalog has much more to offer.

In this installment, Zane Lowe, host of Apple Music's Beats 1 radio, makes his case for Spandau Ballet, a group whose sensual song "True" was a Top 10 hit in the U.S. in 1983 and endures as a film sync favorite. Read Lowe in his own words below, and hear the radio version at the audio link.


"True" is the one-hit [wonder] in America, but it just blows my mind that America didn't recognize the value in "Gold." "Gold" is a smasher. The beginning is melodic and it's emotional. It's almost melancholic. And it just leads you up to this dynamic, Thor-style hammer drop of the chorus.

I've had one default karaoke song — I mean, that would suggest I'm invited to karaoke; I'm never invited to karaoke — but if I was invited to karaoke, my go-to karaoke song is hands-down "Gold."

I know I'm putting a slight humor on this because it's One-Hit Wonders and you've got to approach this thing with tongue-in-cheek, but for me, I have really vivid memories of driving around with my mom in Auckland while I was growing up, listening to the radio and Spandau Ballet kind of being omnipresent — not just "True." And "Gold" was one of those moments that really jumped out, even as a kid. I just think it has that real power, a powerful vocal. It's a strange song; they're a strange band. Maybe that's why they're a one-hit wonder, because "True" was the most obvious, straight-down-the-line, smash, Top 40 radio-type moment for them, but they definitely had enough hits to make a Greatest Hits album. Which kind of goes to show that Spandau Ballet in other parts of the world – predominantly the United Kingdom – are considered a legacy act.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This is a one-hit wonder from the group Spandau Ballet.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TRUE")

SPANDAU BALLET: (Singing) I, I, I, I, I, I - I know this much is true.

INSKEEP: This song, "True," was a Top 10 hit in 1983, success that Spandau Ballet was never able to match again - at least not in the United States. That's what longtime BBC radio DJ Zane Lowe wanted to emphasize for our series One-Hit Wonders, Second-Best Songs.

ZANE LOWE: It just blows my mind that America didn't recognize the value in "Gold." Gold is a smasher.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOLD")

SPANDAU BALLET: (Singing) Thank you for coming home. Sorry that the chairs are all worn. I left them here, I could have sworn.

LOWE: I mean, the beginning is melodic, and it's emotional. It's almost melancholic. And it just leads you up to this dynamic, Thor-style hammer drop of the chorus, which has, like...

(SOUNDBITE OF THUMPING)

LOWE: I mean, any song that has a...

(SOUNDBITE OF THUMPING)

LOWE: ...In it is a smash.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOLD")

SPANDAU BALLET: (Singing) Gold - always believe in your soul. You've got the power to know you're indestructible, always believing. You are gold - gold.

LOWE: I've had one default karaoke song. I mean, that would suggest I'm invited to karaoke. I'm never invited to karaoke. But if I was invited to karaoke, my go-to karaoke song is, hands down, "Gold."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOLD")

SPANDAU BALLET: (Singing) After the rush has gone, I hope you find a little more time. Remember we were partners in crime.

LOWE: I know I'm putting, like, a slight humor on this because it's one-hit wonders and you've got to approach this thing with tongue in cheek, but for me, you know, I have really vivid memories of driving around with my mom in Auckland when I was growing up listening to the radio and Spandau Ballet, you know, kind of being omnipresent, not just "True." "Gold" was one of those moments that really jumped out even as a kid. I just think it has that real power, has a powerful vocal.

And it's just a strange song. They're a strange band, Spandau Ballet. Maybe that's why they're a one-hit wonder because, you know, "True" was the most kind of obvious, straight-down-the-line, smash, Top 40 radio-type moment for them, but they definitely had enough hits to make a greatest hits album, which kind of goes to show that Spandau Ballet in other parts of the world, predominately the United Kingdom, are considered a legacy at.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOLD")

SPANDAU BALLET: (Singing) Something I could have learned. You're indestructible, always believing.

INSKEEP: Zane Lowe talking about the song "Gold" by Spandau Ballet, his choice for our series One-Hit Wonders, Second-Best Songs. You can hear Zane Lowe these days on Apple's Beats 1 radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPANDAU BALLET'S "GOLD") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.