Happy House

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"Happy House"
Single by Siouxsie and the Banshees
from the album Kaleidoscope
B-side "Drop Dead/Celebration"
Released 7 March 1980
Format 7" single
Recorded 1980
Genre Post-punk
Length 03:48
Label Polydor
Writer(s) Siouxsie Sioux
Steven Severin
Producer(s) Nigel Gray
Siouxsie and the Banshees
Siouxsie and the Banshees singles chronology
"Mittageisen"
(1979)
"Happy House"
(1980)
"Christine"
(1980)

"Happy House" is a song recorded by British rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees. The song was written by Siouxsie Sioux and Steven Severin and was released as the first single from the band's third album, Kaleidoscope.

Background and recording[edit]

"Happy House" and the Kaleidoscope album marked a change in musical direction for Siouxsie and the Banshees due to the arrival of two new musicians: drummer Budgie, previously of The Slits, and guitarist John McGeoch, previously of Magazine.

Budgie, who was interested in African polyrhythms, used a reggae vibe on the song, while McGeoch played both atmospheric and edgy guitars. Siouxsie stated that the band almost invented a new sound with this single: it was "Banshees - phase two".[1]

When asked if "Happy House" is a cynical song, Siouxsie replied, "It is sarcastic. In a way, like television, all the medias, it is like adverts, the perfect family where as it is more common that husbands beat their wives. There are mental families really. The projection is everyone smiling, blond hair, sunshine, eating butter without fat and everyone perfect".[2]

Chart performance[edit]

The single became the band's second top 20 hit, peaking at number 17 in the UK singles chart.

Music video[edit]

The video is set in an studio "cartoon house" made to look "fun and happy", reflecting the sarcastic lyrics. Siouxsie explores the house, dressed in a Harlequin outfit while the band support her, playing their instruments in the living room.

Despite the very distinctive guitar riff (played by McGeoch) that is arguably the centrepiece of the song, McGeoch does not feature in the video. Instead Siouxsie occasionally mimics playing the riff with a ukulele, with Severin on bass and Budgie on drums playing along in the background.

Covers and samples[edit]

The song was later revisited by several acts. The Italian dance act Cappella had a hit single in 1993 with the song "U Got 2 Know", which used the distinctive riff from "Happy House". Cappella was later sued for failure to pay publishing royalties and lost.[3] In 2003, European band Ginger Ale covered the song on their debut album. [4]

In 2011, The Weeknd sampled several elements of the original version in his song "House of Balloons" from the mixtape album of the same name. Pitchfork wrote in their review:

"Happy House" is worked into a softly anthemic slow-burn number full of diva-ish vocals tied to a chilly beat. John McGeoch's riff remains untouched and runs throughout most of the track, giving it a filmy pop feel that periodically peaks with a generous swipe from the "Happy House" chorus".[5]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Tracks" TV'interview. Arte. Broadcast June 1999
  2. ^ "Siouxsie interview". Elektron (dutch television). December 1982.
  3. ^ Price, Simon. "Kisses in the Dreamhouse". Melody Maker. 8 August 1993. P.41. "Happy House built on a naggingly eerie synth riff (recently stolen by Cappella's "U Got 2 Know)"
  4. ^ "Happy House" by Ginger Ale. 2003
  5. ^ Neyland, Nick."The Weeknd’s House Of Balloons". Pitchfork. 2011-03-28.