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"Love Action (I Believe in Love)" is a song by the British synthpop group The Human League, released as a single in the UK in July 1981. It became the band's first Top 10 success, peaking at number three in the UK Singles Chart.

"Love Action (I Believe in Love)"
Single by The Human League
from the album Dare
B-side"Hard Times"
Released27 July 1981[1]
Format7", 12", 3" CD single (re-issue)
RecordedGenetic Studios, Reading, England
GenreSynthpop, new wave
Length3:51 (Single edit) 4:58 (Album Version)
Songwriter(s)Philip Oakey, Ian Burden
Producer(s)Martin Rushent
The Human League singles chronology
"The Sound of the Crowd"
"Love Action (I Believe in Love)"
"Open Your Heart"

The song was written jointly by lead singer Philip Oakey and keyboard player Ian Burden. It features lead vocal by Oakey, female backing vocals by Susanne Sulley and Joanne Catherall, and analogue synthesizers by Jo Callis, Philip Adrian Wright and Ian Burden. Drum machines, sequencing and programming were provided by producer Martin Rushent and his then Engineer and Programmer David M. Allen. One of the most notable synth sounds on the recording makes use of the pitch-to-voltage converter and envelope shaper on the Roland System 700 modular synth. Jo Callis' guitar strumming was fed into the synth and used to shape and trigger the sounds, producing an unusual choppy, strumming synth patch.

Some copies of the single were mispressed, with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "Souvenir" as the A-side.[citation needed]



Chart (1981) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[2] 12
Ireland (IRMA)[3] 11
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[4] 21
United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company)[5] 3


"Love Action (I Believe in Love)" was the second of three songs from the Dare album to be released in advance of the album itself in 1981. It was released as a double A-side single with the non-album track "Hard Times". In the US, "Love Action (I Believe in Love)"/"Hard Times" made the dance charts twice: in 1981, the tracks first peaked at number thirty-seven, and one year later, re-entered the dance chart and peaked at number fifty-seven.[6]

The song is a semi-autobiographical account of Oakey’s relationships.[7] Oakey often refers to himself and at one point uses the lyric "this is Phil talking." The line was inspired by Iggy Pop's line "Jesus, this is Iggy". The Human League had previously supported Iggy Pop live. Oakey borrows from another of his influences and the title "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" is named after the Lou Reed song "I Believe in Love". The song contains another cryptic reference to Lou Reed in the lyric, "I believe what the old man said". Oakey, speaking in 1982 said, "no one ever asks me who the old man is... it's Lou (Reed)." [8]


The release of the single was widely advertised in music press in early August 1981 with prominence given also to the B-side "Hard Times" as well as the A-side, and to the fact that a "limited" 12" single would also be made available as "Hard Times/Love Action" in "Disco Mix and Odd Mix"[9] although these names were not used for the actual release. The single was designated 'Red' on the Human League’s short-lived self-imposed labelling system of 'Blue' for pop songs and 'Red' for dance tracks.[10]

The single made number 3 in the UK charts and placed The Human League in the forefront of media attention. It also renewed Virgin Records' faith in the band and guaranteed the release of the album that was to become Dare, just four months later.

The song was ranked at number 5 among the top ten "Tracks of the Year" for 1981 by NME.[11]


The song was sampled in the UK hit single from dance duo Utah Saints in the mid-1990s and by George Michael for his politically charged 2002 hit "Shoot the Dog."

The song is featured on the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and in the series 1, episode 4 of Ashes to Ashes. The song was also used for an episode of Skins in 2009. The song was used in the 1982 teen film The Last American Virgin but has been excised from the DVD release. The song was covered by Mark Thwaite and Ashton Nyte on the album MGT: Gemini Nyte, released in 2018 ([12]).

Promotional videoEdit

Screenshot of Joanne Catherall in promotional video for "Love Action" 1982

Originally the song was released without a promotional video; at the time promotional videos were still rare, very expensive and only very high-profile bands received them. At this point the Human League were not sufficiently marketable to warrant the expense of a video. Instead, video from the band's television appearances to promote the song (mainly an appearance on Top of the Pops) was used.

Following the huge success of "Don't You Want Me", a video for "Love Action" was shot retrospectively for the single's release in America in 1982. The storyline is loosely based on the 1967 film The Graduate. The opening scene is an exact copy of the church scene from the film with Oakey taking Dustin Hoffman's role. The majority of the video was filmed on a derelict South London council estate while the church scenes were filmed at St Saviour's, Warwick Avenue. Most of the female camera time went to Joanne Catherall, in a wedding dress for the first half. Susan Ann Sulley's scenes mainly involved her having a tantrum and throwing objects around a flat. At one point in the scene, she accidentally managed to score a direct hit on the camera and a production crew member with a flying lamp. She momentarily broke character and cringed as she realizes she had just hit one of the crew.

Formats and track listingsEdit

  1. "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" - 3:50
  2. "Hard Times" - 4:53
  1. "Hard Times" - 4:53
  2. "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" - 5:06
  3. "Hard Times" (Instrumental) - 5:45
  4. "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" (Instrumental) - 5:23
3" CD (re-issue)
  1. "Hard Times" - 4:53
  2. "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" - 5:06
  3. "Hard Times" (Instrumental) - 5:44
  4. "Love Action" (Instrumental) - 5:23


  1. ^ "The Human League - Love Action (I Believe In Love) (Vinyl)". 27 July 1981. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  2. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  3. ^ "Chart Track: Week 13, 1981". Irish Singles Chart.
  4. ^ " – Human League – Love Action (I Believe in Love)". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 262. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 125.
  7. ^ "Sounds 12th August 1978 THE HUMAN LEAGUE". 12 August 1978. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  8. ^ Smash Hits magazine December 1981
  9. ^ "The Human League The new RED single advertisement)". Smash Hits: 14. 6 August 1981.
  10. ^ "Sounds 12th August 1978 THE HUMAN LEAGUE". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  12. ^

External linksEdit