Who Did ‘It’s My Life’ First Before No Doubt?

This post contains independently chosen affiliate links. See full affiliate disclosure. 

Song: It’s My Life (1984)

Artist: Talk Talk

Writers: Mark Hollis and Tim Friese-Greene

Album: It’s My Life

Label: EMI (UK), EMI America (US)

It may be hard to believe, but No Doubt’s huge hit It’s My Life was recorded almost twenty years after the original. The song was written by Tim Friese-Greene and Mark Hollis and released in 1984 by Mark Hollis’ so-called synth-pop group Talk Talk. It reached no. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May, 1984, spending 14 weeks on the chart.

Talk Talk was a British group formed by Hollis in 1981, formed in the mold of Human League, Duran Duran, and other popular groups of the era. They had their first hit in 1982 with Talk Talk, followed by It’s My Life and Such a Same in 1984. They only cracked the top 40 once in the US with It’s My Life.

While I don’t think they ever should have been labelled synth-pop (perhaps synth-forward) they began leaving behind a more electronic sound after this period and I absolutely love some of the music that followed, such as the song Living in Another World.

They then left EMI after a legal dispute and became more experimental in terms of instrumentation and recording techniques. They even, reportedly, absolutely forbade the release of any group photos.

While the critics loved this new approach, they were no longer commercially successful, despite some very hard work in the studio. If you listen to their 1988 album, Spirit of Eden, you will understand why. Much of the album is just what some would call ‘textures’ and I would just call noises and musical-masturbation. Mark Hollis seems to have had a Brian Wilson moment during the marathon recording sessions, without Brian Wilson’s direction and purpose. The song intros are overlong and, to my ears, with no purpose other than to make the multitrack tape worth its cost while overdubbing as many different musical instruments as you can find musicians to play.

There may be some double-irony at work here. No Doubt released their cover of the somewhat hit song It’s My Life in 2003, turning it into a huge hit. It reached no. 10 on the Hot 100. Talk Talk broke up after a final album in 1991, Laughing Stock. But their experimental music was later credited for inventing what is often called ‘post-rock.’ The band became a big influence for commercially successful groups like Tears For Fears, Radiohead, and Death Cab for Cutie.

Listen to It’s My Life by Talk Talk

More 1980s Music

More Who Did It First?

More Pop Music