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Human Nature

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Biography

In the style of the boy band vocal bands of the time, Human Nature became Australia's most successful pop group of the '90s and beyond, outselling their international contemporaries Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Boyzone.

Andrew Tierney, Michael Tierney, Phillip Burton, and Toby Allen first joined up as the 4Trax in 1989 when they were all still attending a New South Wales agricultural high school. Andrew, Burton, and Allen were all in performances of Godspell and Grease at high school and in the same year level, while Michael, Andrew's younger brother, was a few years behind. Mike used to sing in school choirs and did a performance in an opera. As the 4Trax, the group went from busking in the streets of Sydney to winning three awards for excellence in live performance in the adult club scene. Deciding there was not much more they could accomplish in that area of entertainment, they started to send their demo tapes off to various recording companies. Legend has it they were signed on the spot by Sony after a live performance of "People Get Ready" in the chief executive's office. It was at this point in their career that they changed their name to Human Nature, a name thought up by Mike.

Australia had seen entries into the R&B vocal era via CDB, Kulcha, and Past to Present, but no serious contender in the '90s trend toward vocal pop groups (aka boy bands). Human Nature changed that. As well as the harmony style, which impressed Sony, they had some songs of their own that were added to those of professional songwriters. The first single, "Got It Goin' On," was their first experience in the studio. The group's first album, Telling Everybody, which went on to sell four-times platinum. It also saw Human Nature secure major support slots on international tours by Michael Jackson and Celine Dion. By the time the second album was released, the band had traveled the world several times over.

Counting Down was the result of sessions in Sydney, Los Angeles, and London, and combined the team that had created the first album with international songwriters and producers. Back in Australia, combining Human Nature's harmonies with John Farnham's voice and popularity created one of the top Australian hits of 1997, "Every Time You Cry." That, an appearance in a stage version of Grease, and an all-star concert tour of Beatles songs conducted by George Martin threatened to take Human Nature away from their teen pop group beginnings and turn them into an adult-oriented act.

Human Nature dispelled all thought of such a shift with their third album, self-titled Human Nature, as if to underline the fact that the band had returned to its original emphasis. With sessions in London, Stockholm, and New York, Human Nature worked in the studios and with the producers and songwriters who also name-checked Westlife, Billie Piper, Spice Girls, 5ive, Britney Spears, and Backstreet Boys among their clients. There was also a songwriting session with Gary Barlow, formerly of Take That. Human Nature was declaring they were ready to be thought of in the same league. Since the late '90s, Human Nature has released a number of albums including the Motown-themed Reach Out: The Motown Record in 2005 and its follow-up, Dancing in the Street: The Songs of Motown II, a year later.

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