He Don’t Love You (S Mac/W Hector) 2000 and When You Say You Love Me (D.Hayes/R.Nowels) – Human Nature 2004
When Human Nature entered the recording studio in Sydney in 2000 to record their third studio album, they were accompanied by an army of songwriters and no less than nine different producers, and they were now moving away from the smooth R&B/pop of their previous hits to a more upbeat, electronic boyband genre of music exemplified by NSYNC (below), the group that revealed Justin Timberlake to the world.The standout track was He Don’t Love You, the group had turned to songwriters who were eminently successful at generating slick harmony-drenched sounds, with a catchy dancefloor beat like those charting for Take That, Boyzone, NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.In Steve Mac, above (Steve MacCutcheon) and Wayne Hector, the songwriting and production team behind the successful Irish boyband Westlife (below); Human Nature tapped into two Brits who had written and produced four #1 hits for Westlife including Swear It Again, Against All Odds, World Of Our Own, Queen Of My Heart amongst many other top ten hits, not surprisingly this song took the band back into the top 5 on the singles charts after an absence of two years, when lifted from their eponymous album.The song opens with a brief a capella intro followed by the bass and drums of the rhythm section which underscore the vocal harmonies with Mike Tierney on lead tenor, additional brass and orchestration is added giving the song a glossy sheen and a polished dancefloor beat, it was classic boyband pop and charted #5 nationally. It would be four years before the group hit the top ten again with their last major hit in 2004 with When You Say You Love Me (#8, 2004).
By 2004 Human Nature had not had an hit for over three years, and their last major chart entry had been a greatest hits album Here and Now which climbed to #12 in 2001, but the teen market for boyband acts was moving on, so it was surprising that the group managed to squeeze one more hit out of what seemed to be an outdated musical genre for them.In 2004 they released the album Walk the Tightrope and the first single lifted off it was the Darren Hayes (ex-Savage Garden) and Rick Nowels (prodigious American songwriter/producer – Dido, Cee Lo, New Radicals, etc) composition, When You Say You Love Me, originally recorded in 2003 by Clay Aitken, runner-up in the second season of American Idol in 2003. This song would fit seamlessly on a Savage Garden album, and Darren Hayes had also recorded it, Human Nature appropriated the Hayes vocal styling, and it delivered a top 10 hit for them.
When the follow up Guilty (One in a Million) flopped in August 2004 their manager suggested that they switch to record an album of Motown covers, they pitched their retro sound to a broader market via appearances on Australian Idol and Dancing with the Stars, the subsequent albums, Reach Out – The Motown Record (2005) sold 480,000 copies and won the ARIA Award for the Biggest- Selling Album in 2006.A second volume of Motown Hits in 2006 entitled Dancing In The Street, also hit #1 and sold 280,000 copies, more retro cover albums also proved successful with Get Ready #2 in 2007, and Symphony of Hits #10 in 2008, for the band and their manager Denis Handlin, the future direction was clear.
Continuing their adept re-invention, Human Nature took their act to Las Vegas in 2009, a residency at the Imperial Palace Casino was followed by a more prestigious residency at the Sands Showroom in the Venetian Casino (above), where they have continued to wow the denizens of Fremont Avenue ever since by taking back to the Americans the songs that they had already invented, in Motown’s Detroit and New York’s Brill Building, fifty years before.The albums Vegas- Songs From Sin City (#21 in 2010), Christmas Album (#4 in 2013), Jukebox (#2 in 2014), Gimme Some Lovin’- Jukebox Vol 2 (#1 in 2016) and Romance of the Jukebox (#2 in 2018) were all substantial hits and included such golden oldies as Will You Love Me Tomorrow (The Shirelles), Earth Angel (The Penguins) and a classic cover of the doo wop standard Runaround Sue, formerly a hit for Dion De Mucci in 1961.
Human Nature has become a successful covers band, their sound and look has also been ridiculed by some who question their musical choices, and seek great originality, creativity and spontaneity from their performers. A recent appearance by the band members on Tom Gleeson’s (above) Hard Chat posed them such questions as “Is it a coincidence that the most successful part of your career started when you began singing other people’s songs?” “How do four white Australians capture the essence of Motown?” “Why was there was no cool member of the group?” “Do you get group rates when you all go to the barber’s?”Human Nature have notched up total record sales in excess of 2.5 million copies, won the admiration of one of their musical idols, Motown recording legend Smoky Robinson, who toured Australia with the band in 2014, they were awarded an Order of Australia in 2019, and were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame by Guy Sebastian in the same year.