Depeche Mode

People Are People

Composed by Martin Gore

Song Review by

Originally released as a stand-alone single in the U.K. in April 1984, "People Are People" ended up becoming Depeche Mode's U.S. breakthrough hit, getting enough MTV and club airplay that Sire Records ended up gathering a number of stray single tracks and remixes and releasing the stopgap People Are People LP in the States. (This made U.S. consumers feel slightly cheated a few months later when "People Are People" showed up yet again on the Some Great Reward album.) It's ironic that this is the song that broke the group in the States as opposed to a poppier slice of synth pop like "See You," because "People Are People" was the single that introduced Depeche Mode's next-level sound as the group that made industrial music (à la Einsturzende Neubauten or Test Dept.) palatable to the masses: the song features samples of clanging pipes, shattering glass, and other sounds recorded by the group and engineer Gareth Jones at a German junkyard during the sessions for Construction Time Again, manipulated into a deliberately choppy rhythm that emphasizes the beat to a considerably larger extent than Depeche Mode's earlier singles. (The overall effect is oddly similar to the contemporaneous singles by the Art of Noise, particularly since "People Are People" also makes use of a Trevor Horn trademark, the Fairlight orchestral stab.) Over this, the group repeatedly chants a sloganeering chorus, in between which Dave Gahan sings a well-intentioned but unfortunately trite set of lyrics about hatred and other bad vibes. Lyrically and musically, the song's saving grace is a refrain sung by songwriter Martin Gore, whose lightweight voice suits the lyrics' questioning tone better than Gahan's more strident delivery.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Some Great Reward 1984 Rhino
People Are People 1984 Sire 3:45
No Image 1985 Mute
No Image 1986 Warner Reprise Video
People Are People 1988 Mute 7:14
101: Live 1989 Rhino
Best of 1980-1990, Vol. 2 1990
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:54
Singles Box, Vol. 3 1991 Mute
X2 Disc 8: Live Two (Oziem) 1991 Arista 4:43
The Singles 81>85 1998 Mute
The Singles 81>98 2001 Sony Music
Just Say Sire: The Sire Records Story 2005
Various Artists
Rhino 3:46
The Best of Depeche Mode, Vol. 1 2006 Sony Music
No Image 2007 Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution
Mute Audio Documents 2007
Various Artists
Mute 3:47
Classic Pop Songs, Vol. 02
Various Artists
Arcade Music
De Pre Historie: 1984, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eva 3:52
Hits of the 80's [DVD]
Various Artists
blue highlight denotes editor's pick