Happy Pills (song)

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"Happy Pills"
Single by Norah Jones
from the album Little Broken Hearts
Released March 6, 2012
Genre Indie pop, rock, jazz
Length 3:36
Label Blue Note, EMI
Writer(s) Norah Jones, Brian Burton[1]
Producer(s) Danger Mouse
Norah Jones singles chronology
"More Than This""
"Happy Pills"

"Happy Pills" is a song by the American singer-songwriter Norah Jones. It is the lead single from her fifth studio album Little Broken Hearts and was released digitally on March 6, 2012. The song was written by Jones and co-written and produced by Brian Burton. It tells the story of Jones emancipating herself from a relationship and finding that she is better off alone. Musically, it is a gritty, bluesy song with a surprisingly playful pop sound. It received mostly positive reviews, with many critics complimenting the chemistry between Jones and Burton and also its "catchy and breezy" style.


On February 28, 2012, she premiered "Happy Pills" via her Facebook page on SoundCloud.[2] After she announced that she would be performing at SXSW in 2012, she added that she would perform the single for the first time at that event.[3]


"Happy Pills" was written by Jones and co-written and produced by Brian Burton.[1] The song surprised Jones and Burton from the moment they wrote it. "We both were like 'Oh my God, this is awesome' at first and then went away and listened over the weekend," explained Jones. "We didn't know if it fit on the record. But I couldn't stop singing it, and neither could Brian. Eventually we decided it was too much fun, it had to be there."[1][4] The song revolves around a break up as Jones admits to be feeling good about not having to deal with her lover anymore.[5] "Would you please just let me go now?" pleads Jones, addressing some fool who crushed her feelings.[6] Becky Bain of Idolator wrote that the song is "a sunny, languid tune".[7] The song was also described as "upbeat" and "jazzy".[4]

Critical reception[edit]

"'Happy Pills' tells the story of Jones emancipating herself from a relationship and finding that she’s better off alone – or at least without whoever it is she’s leaving behind. The narrative is far from groundbreaking and the lyrics themselves read like a high school poetry assignment (“with you gone, I’m alive / makes me feel like I took happy pills / and time stood still”), yet the song itself is undeniably addictive and pleasant. Thick, clean percussion fills the track – what else would you expect from a Danger Mouse production? – and Jones’ soulful voice takes on an almost sinister tone, as if she wants to make the mate she’s left behind writhe with the realization that she’s happier without him."

—Andrew Bailey from "Beats Per Minute" in his review.[8]

Bain wrote another review for the song, stating that it "is a lethargic but lovely lark of a song."[9] Simon Vozick-Levinson from Rolling Stone wrote that her voice is "breezy" and that "breaking up never sounded so fun."[6] Glenn Gamboa from Newsday called the track "stellar" and wrote that the song "shows how Jones is still looking to stretch musically, while maintaining her core appeal, and is destined to be in heavy rotation at cafes near you."[10] Ray Rahman from Entertainment Weekly wrote that "the song is a simple, catchy, pop-leaning number that makes us that much more excited about Jones’ comeback year."[11]

Chris Coplan from Consequence of Sound wrote that "the track features a bluesy guitar line as filtered through an ’80s pop sensibility, with vocals that are equal parts cooing sex kitten and retro soul songbird."[12] Katherine St Asaph, a writer of "Pop Dust", wrote that "her vocals are serviceable and frequently better" and that the song "is likely neither to alienate fans or placate those with words for Come Away With Me (2002). It’s exactly what a Norah Jones record would sound like in the current alt-pop climate, where breezy usually does better than torchy."[13]

Chart performance[edit]

The song has reached number 46 on the Billboard Rock Songs and number 13 on the Adult Contemporary chart.[14] It was a hit on the Japan Hot 100 chart, reaching number 7.[14]

Live performances[edit]

Jones has performed the song on the Late Show with David Letterman, Later... with Jools Holland and Good Morning America.[15][16][17]

Music video[edit]

A lyric video for the track was released on March 5, 2012.[4] The official music video was premiered on VH1 on April 6, 2012 and it was directed by Isaiah Seret.[18] According to "Under the Gun", on the video, Jones croons about the feeling of being in love against visuals of simple elegance, murder, and grace.[19] Norah Jones told to VH1 that "It’s like a murder-not-so-much-of-a-mystery. It’s more like a murder-thriller. A thriller!".[20]


  • Norah Jones - Piano, electric guitar & vocals
  • Brian Burton - Drums & synthesizer
  • Blake Mills - Electric guitar
  • Dan Elkan - Electric guitar
  • Todd Monfalcone - Electric guitar
  • Johnathan Hischke - Bass guitar

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[21] 16
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[22] 16
France (SNEP)[23] 188
Japan (Japan Hot 100)[24] 7
US Billboard Rock Songs[25] 44
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[14] 13


  1. ^ a b c "Happy Pills by Norah Jones Songfacts". Songfacts. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Happy Pills by norahjonesofficial on SoundCloud – Create, record and share your sounds for free". Soundcloud.com. Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Need We Say More? > News > Norah Jones to Debut New Songs at SXSW". Jambands.com. February 22, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Norah Jones' 'Happy Pills' Lyric Music Video Released". Huffington Post. March 5, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  5. ^ Gotay, Denise (March 20, 2012). "Norah Jones Debuts a new sound in "Happy Pills"". The Scribe. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Vozick-Levinson, Simon (February 29, 2012). "Happy Pills | Song Reviews | Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  7. ^ Bain, Becky (February 28, 2012). "Norah Jones Grooves With Danger Mouse On "Happy Pills"". Idolator. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Track Review: Norah Jonas – "Happy Pills" | Beats Per Minute". Beats Per Minute (website). April 6, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2012. 
  9. ^ Bain, Becky (March 26, 2012). "Norah Jones Unveils "Happy Pills" Lyric Video". Idolator. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  10. ^ Gamboa, Glenn (March 9, 2012). "Hot Song: Norah Jones' 'Happy Pills'". Newsday. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ Rahman, Ray (March 6, 2012). "Norah Jones releases lyric video for new song 'Happy Pills': Watch it here". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  12. ^ Coplan, Chris (February 28, 2012). "Check Out: Norah Jones – "Happy Pills"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  13. ^ St. Asaph, Katherine (March 7, 2012). "The Singles Bar: Norah Jones, "Happy Pills" – Popdust". Popdust. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c "Happy Pills - Norah Jones | Billboard.com". Billboard. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Norah Jones - Happy Pills (Live on Letterman)". Norah Jones VEVO. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Norah Jones - Happy Pills (Live on Later with Jools Holland 24.04.2012)". Norah Jones VEVO. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Norah Jones - Happy Pills (live @ GMA)". Norah Jones. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  18. ^ Blanton, Kristen (April 5, 2012). "Watch Norah Jones' New Music Video for "Happy Pills"". Paste Magazine. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  19. ^ "MUSIC VIDEO: NORAH JONES – HAPPY PILLS". Under the Gun. April 5, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  20. ^ Graham, Mark (April 4, 2012). "EXCLUSIVE: Go Behind The Scenes Of "Happy Pills", The New Music Video From Norah Jones". VH1. Retrieved June 12, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Ultratop.be – Norah Jones – Happy Pills" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
  22. ^ "Ultratop.be – Norah Jones – Happy Pills" (in French). Ultratip.
  23. ^ "Lescharts.com – Norah Jones – Happy Pills" (in French). Les classement single.
  24. ^ "Norah Jones Album & Song Chart History | Billboard.com". Billboard. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Norah Jones Album & Song Chart History | Billboard.com". Billboard. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved May 19, 2012. 

External links[edit]