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Depeche Mode - People Are People (1984)

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  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2
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“People Are People” is Depeche Mode‘s 10th UK single, and was recorded at Hansa Mischraum in West Berlin, ...

“People Are People” is Depeche Mode‘s 10th UK single, and was recorded at Hansa Mischraum in West Berlin, and released on 12 March 1984. It was their first hit single in the US and the first single from the Some Great Reward album.

Song information

As with many Depeche Mode songs, the band members see different meanings in “People Are People”. According to Martin Gore, the song is about racism. Alan Wilder adds that it could also be about war.

“People Are People” was written by Martin Gore, but the dancy, pop feel of the song may be credited to Alan Wilder. Wilder wrote the B-side, “In Your Memory”. Each song has an extended remix, the “Different Mix” and the “Slik Mix” respectively (although the “In Your Memory” mix is often incorrectly called the “Slick Mix” or “Silk Mix”). It was one of the first songs recorded for the album when sessions began at the Hansa Mischraum studio in January 1984.

“This was the first song of ours that made a dent, really, into popular radio,” said Dave Gahan in 2017. “We were using all these tape loops to create rhythms and the technology was quite advanced, but it wasn’t anything like it is today, the things that you can do. We used to go into studios, and the first thing we’d do, we’d ask where the kitchen was — literally for pots and pans and things that we could throw down the stairs, and record the rhythms they would make crashing around, and then make it into loops.”

The Clive Richardson-directed “People Are People” video was released in two versions. The original video was made for the single version, but an alternate video was made with the “Different Mix”. The music video featured footage of various military scenes from the Cold War, mixed with footage of the band aboard HMS Belfast and of a record press. The “Different Mix” video appears on Some Great Videos and Video Singles Collection.

Despite the song’s success, Martin Gore considers it one of his least favourite songs. He prefers his songs to have subtle metaphors to allow people to find their own meanings to his songs, and feels “People Are People” does not fit that description. In 1990, he listed the song among some of the music he “regrets”, calling “People Are People” “too nice, too commercial.” It has not been played live since 1988.

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