In my personal opinion, nearly every Tears for Fears single is the perfect amalgation of why 80s pop was and is incredible. They truly are the sound of the 80s and their music ages so well, like every truly great pop song.
The trope of annoying the librarian because you have a crush on her, dumping your keyboard on her desk and having achimpanse in the reading room. How rude.
Also, if I may be so bold: 80s Ian Stanley might have been the only living keyboard player ever who was the most attractive band member. If you wonder what happened, since he is the only original member who did not return for the bands reunion: he became a pretty prolific music producer, so there’s that.
Now, “Head over Heels” has hit me right in the guts in 2001 when I was 17 and saw “Donnie Darko”. This song is the introduction to the typical 80s high school life. The scene was specifically written and edited for the song and it shows. I haven’t watched that movie in years but this song is basically the whole mood of the entire movie, this hightened sense of surreal wonder.
What starts out as a love song, gets a little political (?) at the end. Even though the beginning is about trying to ask someone out, by the end, we have to ponder heavy lines like “It’s hard to be a man when there’s a gun in your hand” – I guess, Tears for Fears were never meant to be the band that writes “just” a love song.
Especially, since the song is supposed to be a twin with “Broken” which is just a super sad song of having given up all hope. The lines “one little boy one little man” as well as “funny how time flies” are repeated in “Broken” and in that way, this could be read as two songs about innocence (which always is hopeful) and the loss of it. The little boy (Head over heels) and the little man (broken). In “Head over Heels”, the demands that society puts on young men already weigh on the protagonist/narrator, so by the end, he already is turning jaded. But that’s just my two cents. I know that not every song is supposed to have a clear cut interpretation.
The amazing thing about the entire song is that the big musical promise the intro makes (a keyboard extravaganza leading up to greatness and really showing those butterflies of first crushes) is completely delivered by the song’s dramaturgy with the chorus as well as those heartfelt interludes. When Roland Orzabal sings “I feel so” in his high-pitched voice and then immediately drops into the chorus, it’s like my heart stops, it’s absolutely beautiful.
This song changes constantly. Again, this is like the ups and downs of being in love, this confusion and its perfectly delivered by Roland Orzabal who puts so much emotion in his vocals, it’s unashamedly 80s because it’s all so extreme and so much but it’s perfect that way. I love big emotions in pop music, give me all the pathos!!!