In 1985, keyboardist Vince Clarke, having parted ways with Depeche Mode and Yazoo singer Alison Moyet, took an ad out in Melody Maker magazine looking for a new singer to work with. Some 40 respondents showed up at the recording session, each performing two songs Clarke had written for the session. The second-to-last audition of the session was a shy young butcher named Andy Bell. As soon as Andy famously burst into falsetto on the chorus of "Who Needs Love Like That?", Vince knew he had found what he was looking for. They released the track almost immediately, and Erasure was born.
Bell was one of the first openly gay performers in the pop music industry, and his voice is regarded as one of the greatest in British soul. They are one of Britain's most successful pop acts, with five Number One albums and 40 Top 40 hits.
Although they are most commonly known today as "The band that wrote the song to Robot Unicorn Attack".
- Wonderland (1986)
- The Circus (1987)
- The Innocents (1988)
- Wild! (1989)
- Chorus (1991)
- Abba-esque (1992)
- I Say I Say I Say (1994)
- Erasure (1995)
- Cowboy (1997)
- Loveboat (2000)
- Other People's Songs (2003)
- Nightbird (2005)
- Union Street (2006)
- Light at the End of the World (2007)
- Tomorrow's World (2011)
- Always Second Best: Although completely overshadowed by Andy Bell and Alison Moyet, Vince is a pretty good singer himself. He initially handled lead vocals for Depeche Mode, before he recruited Dave Gahan. He also sang one song, "Happy People", while with Yazoo.
- The band itself was generally loathed by the British music press, who characterised them as the poor man's Pet Shop Boys.
- Anti-Christmas Song: "She Won't Be Home".
- Break Up Song: Most of their songs are either this or Silly Love Songs. Examples that hit the charts: "Oh L'Amour", "Victim of Love", and "Love to Hate You".
- Camp: They absolutely revel in it. Just the tip of the iceberg: One concert involved Andy wearing a giant feather boa and being wheeled onstage in a giant swan.
- Camp Gay: Andy, on stage.
- Cover Version: Other People's Songs is a whole album full, as is ABBA-esque.
- Covered Up: "Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile)"
- Gayngst/ComingOutStory: "Hideaway".
Oh my father, why don't you talk to me now?
Oh my mother, do you still cry yourself to sleep?
Are you still proud of your little boy?
- Possibly "Run to the Sun" as well.
- Epic Rocking: The Self-Titled Album brings us two examples, "Sono Luminus"(7:52), and "Rock Me Gently"(10:01). The single mix for the latter, however, shaves six minutes off of the song length.
- Gaia's Vengeance: Arguably, "Chorus"
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Yes, straight male fans do exist. Vince used to state this in the band's early days, but gave up by the time ABBA-esque came out and just ran with the Camp.
- Intercourse with You: "Sexuality", "Sometimes". The latter had to be performed with alternate lyrics in one TV appearance.
- Lighter and Softer: Cowboy attempted to be this to Erasure, showing a return to fluffy three-minute pop songs.
- Literal-Minded: The video for A Little Respect is this, along with a generous helping of Visual Puns.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Fingers & Thumbs". The verses and tune are fairly happy, but then you get to the chorus and realize it's about AIDS.
- Mistaken for Gay: Happens to Vince all the time.
- Name's the Same: There was an Andy Bell in Oasis; also a source of conflict when "A Little Respect" was written--Vince thought it would get confused with the Aretha Franklin classic "Respect".
- New Sound Album: Basically every other one. Wild! was their first use of MIDI, Erasure was heavily influenced by prog-rock, Loveboat was their "indie" album and Union Street was entirely acoustic.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Overwhelming fan reaction to Loveboat--the critics, however, disagreed.
- One-Woman Wail: Diamanda Galas's appearances on the Erasure album.
- Performance Video: "Love to Hate You", combined with Behind The Scenes Video.
- Rhyming with Itself: "Always" - "Open your eyes, I see/Your eyes are open/Wear no disguise for me/Come into the open". Usually forgiven for its current status as Crowning Music of Awesome du jour.
- Sampling: Only once--"Love to Hate You" is driven by an interpolation of the riff from "I Will Survive".
- Self-Titled Album
- Signature Song: "A Little Respect" and, in Britain, "Sometimes".
- Silly Love Songs: Quite a lot of them are either this or Breakup Songs.
- Spiritual Successor: Wonderland was this to Yazoo, with Andy imitating Alison Moyet's style on some of the album tracks.
- Studio Chatter: The intro to "Star".
- Synth Pop
- Synthetic Voice Actor: "Video Killed The Radio Star" is sung by Vince's laptop, because Andy thought it was a stupid song and wouldn't cover it.
- The Cover Changes the Gender: Averted. All of their covers leave the pronouns intact, which works with songs sung by women but gives an odd effect in "Everyday".
- The Quiet One: Vince, the archetypal "miserable keyboardist", in marked contrast to Andy's onstage flamboyance.
- Visual Pun: The video for "A Little Respect" is a visual Hurricane of Puns.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: The music videos for "Who Needs Love Like That?" and "Take A Chance On Me" feature Vince and Andy dancing around in drag. That's not even touching on the live performances. Fortunately, Vince at least looks pretty nice in makeup.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Mild examples show up here and there, due to the nature of the songwriting process. Andy makes up gibberish to sing while developing the vocals, and sometimes they just keep it.