Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - If You Leave (1986)
- 80's score: 1.4
"If You Leave" is a 1986 song by English electronic band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD). It was recorded for the ...
"If You Leave" is a 1986 song by English electronic band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD). It was recorded for the soundtrack to the film Pretty in Pink (1986), in which it is played prominently during the final scene. Along with 1980's "Enola Gay", the track has been described as OMD's signature song.
"If You Leave" is the group's highest-charting single on the US Billboard Hot 100, where it reached number 4 in May 1986. The song was also a Top 5 entry in Canada and New Zealand, and charted at number 15 in Australia. A defining track of the 1980s, it was described by Interview as "one of the most influential, zeitgeist-capturing songs ever to be written".
Reception and legacy
"If You Leave" has garnered both praise and derision since its release. Ian Cranna in Smash Hits wrote that the song is "false and contrived and seems to last about 3 years" (but described UK B-side "88 Seconds in Greensboro" as "OMD at their blazing best"). On the other hand, Chicago Sun-Times journalist Dennis Hunt asserted that the track "is too good to be ignored". Retrospectively, Alfred Soto of The Village Voice said it "starts promisingly" and features "admirably straightforward" lyrics, but concluded: "Gradually the annoyances become menaces. The parts are garish, overstated; it's a cluttered mix." Trouser Press called the song a "dull ballad" that "was thankfully omitted from OMD's subsequent album, The Pacific Age".
Conversely, Stereogum critic Ryan Leas considered the track to be among "the best songs of the '80s", and described its intro/chorus synthesizer melody as "one of the best sounds ever". Andrew Unterberger in Stylus Magazine said that the "gorgeous" song makes the final scene of Pretty in Pink "one of the best in cinematic history". AllMusic journalist Mike DeGagne named "If You Leave" as the best track from Pretty in Pink, adding that "its adult feel and smooth transition from stanza to chorus makes it [OMD's] most memorable song".
Hugo Lindgren in The New York Times Magazine argued that the stateside popularity of "If You Leave" – as well as that of the similarly pop-oriented Crush (1985) – "obscured OMD's legacy as musical innovators" from US audiences, and marked a shift toward "making music for whoever signed the checks". Listeners in OMD's native UK – where the band had gained an audience with edgy, experimental music – were particularly resistant to the track, which peaked at no. 48 on the UK Singles Chart. Frontman Andy McCluskey commented: "It's a blessing to have such a big hit, but a shame that it overshadows so many other good songs for the US audience. We have many European fans who hate the song." Along with 1980's "Enola Gay", "If You Leave" has been described as OMD's signature song.
Entertainment Weekly journalist Dana Falcone described "If You Leave" as a "now-classic tune" and "OMD's best-known song to Americans". Kevin Wuench of the Tampa Bay Times dubbed the track "a signature song of the '80s that will never leave the radio", while Interview called it "one of the most influential, zeitgeist-capturing songs ever to be written". The track has been included in various "greatest songs" listings; KOOL-FM named it the third-best new wave song of the 1980s, while Time Out ranked it the 10th greatest track of 1980s cinema. In a poll of 6,528 Slicing Up Eyeballs readers, "If You Leave" was voted the fifth-best song of 1986.