Throwback Thursday: Spandau Ballet – “True”
In the world of popular music, there are one-hit wonders, and then there are musical acts who are erroneously remembered as such because one song in their catalog has such an outsized legacy that people forget they did anything else. One of such acts is British group Spandau Ballet, who had a string of hits in the early-to-mid ’80s. The group logged 10 top 10 hits in the UK, but in the US, they only managed three top 40 hits. Of those three was a song called “True.”
Released in April 1983 as the third single and title track of the group’s third album, “True” is what happens when a synthesizer is put to good use. Written by the group’s lead guitarist, Gary Kemp, the song is peak “new wave” (an dodgy term) and “blue-eyed soul” (an even dodgier term) — basically, it is an R&B song performed by white people in a very specific early ’80s kinda way. Kemp says he was inspired by Al Green and Marvin Gaye, the latter of which is mentioned in the song.
I don’t have any memories of “True” before watching The Wedding Singer, so I will assume that was my introduction to it. Starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, the movie was set in the early ’80s and features many hits from that era. The spoofy nature of the movie colored my perception of the songs featured in it, and for years, I would think of “True” only as the humorous soundtrack to the final scene of the movie — in fact, I hadn’t even listened to it from start to finish until very recently. When I finally did, I discovered new parts of the song I’d never heard and fell deeper in love with it — and this time, it was a serious kind of love.
“True” is an absolute masterpiece and Gary Kemp was most definitely in his bag when he wrote it. As you can imagine, the song was Spandau Ballet’s highest-charting song in both the US, where it peaked at No. 4, and the UK, where it topped the chart.