How did the Cure get so huge? -- Why the band can sell out stadiums

Three years ago, when the Cure sold out Dodger and Giants stadiums, somebody somewhere had to be asking, How did the band ever get so huge?

* It got happier. After a series of conspicuously gloomy albums, culminating with 1982’s harrowing Pornography, Curemeister Robert Smith got happy feet and recorded danceable pop tunes like ”Let’s Go to Bed.”
* It made the right records. Albums like 1985’s The Head on the Door mixed the Cure’s new pop approach with just enough depression to attract a larger audience without turning off old fans.
* It made groovy videos. They gave the band nearly nonstop MTV exposure (and inspired a small but terrifying number of Smith look-alikes).
* It stayed good. ”Some bands make the same record over and over again, and people lose interest,” says Lewis Largent, music director at L.A. alternative radio mainstay KROQ, a station that has been a Cure loyalist for more than a decade. ”But the Cure has always been artistically challenging.”
* It changed labels. Elektra Records, which picked the group up in ’85, has filled stores with Cure albums, CD singles, and video collections. ”Elektra totally focused the right amount of energy and resources on them,” reckons Howie Klein, general manager of Sire Records, which itself released two Cure LPs in the early ’80s, before Klein got there. As he now wistfully recalls: ”One of the first things I did when I got to Sire was reissue both of them on CD.”