A Flock of Seagulls: A Legacy of Influence and Insults

Rarely has a band been so influential and so derided at the same time as a Flock of Seagulls. A group very much of its era — that being the early ‘80s — these Liverpool-based synth-poppers took control of the charts early in the decade. Their first major hit, “I Ran (So Far Away),” was followed by several other soon-to-be-standards, among them "Space Age Love Song,” “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)” and “The More You Live, the More You Love.” In the process, they established a signature sound that not only gave rise to various contemporaries — Depeche Mode, the Fixx, Erasure, and Yazoo among them — but also established the template for much of what defines contemporary pop, dance music, and electronica these days.

Had band members been content to simply focus on their delivery, more appreciation may have come their way. Indeed, in retrospect, their songs are still capable of offering a certain guileless guilty pleasure. They even managed to establish themselves as cultural icons of a sort, thanks to a mention in the film Pulp Fiction and a sound and style that came to epitomize an entire era. At the dawn of the age of MTV, a Flock of Seagulls became one of the channel’s early mainstays, with “I Ran” establishing a record for the most video plays, significantly trouncing the competition in the process.

And yet it was that very visual image proffered in those videos that brought them such disdain. Though the New Age Romantics were a cartoonish-looking lot to begin with, a Flock of Seagulls took that silly-looking essence to an extreme. Their gravity-defying pompadours — hairstyles seemingly at odds with any sense of taste or logic — and obvious penchant for garish get-ups provoked the ire of critics and cynics and became synonymous with ’80s indulgence. Style seemed to mean as much to the band as its music, and in turn, it discouraged many pundits from taking the band seriously.

"Of course, everyone remembers this group now for singer Mike Score's ridiculous back-combed haircut and the fact that they are mentioned in Pulp Fiction," New Musical Express once noted. “So now they're kind of cool, but in the early ’80s it was a different story."

Nowadays, their sound and style are remembered with some degree of fondness in equal measure. Like relics of a different age, a Flock of Seagulls represents a quaint cultural phenomenon.

A Flock of Seagulls and the Fixx perform as part of July Fourth Celebration presented by Wheelabrator Technologies .Gates open at 5 p.m. Music starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 4, at BB&T Center, 2555 NW 136th Ave., Sunrise. Free admission. Call 800-745-3000.
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Lee Zimmerman