Message in a Bottle (song)

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"Message in a Bottle"
Single by The Police
from the album Reggatta de Blanc
B-side "Landlord"
Released September 1979
Format 7" single
Recorded 1979
Length 4:50
Label A&M
Writer(s) Sting
Producer(s) Nigel Gray, Stewart Copeland, Sting, Andy Summers
Certification Gold (BPI)
The Police singles chronology
"So Lonely"
"Message in a Bottle"
"Walking on the Moon"
Audio sample
file info · help

"Message in a Bottle" is a 1979 song by English rock band The Police, from their second album, Reggatta de Blanc. Written by Sting; the song is ostensibly about a story of a castaway on an island, who sends out a message in a bottle to seek love. A year later, he has not received any sort of response, and despairs, thinking he is destined to be alone. The next day, he sees "a hundred billion bottles" on the shore, finding out that there are more people like him out there.

Rolling Stone ranked it number 65 on its list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time".


The Police debuted the song on live television on the BBC's Rock Goes to College, filmed at Hatfield Polytechnic College in Hertfordshire, England.[1] The Police donated all money earned from the show to the school.

The single was The Police's first number one hit in the UK Singles Chart,[2] but only reached number 74 in the United States. An alternative "classic rock" mix is available on Every Breath You Take: The Classics. Sting's told Jools Holland of the BBC that this is his favourite song.[citation needed]

The Police performed at Live Earth, a 2007 charity concert to raise awareness of global warming and other environmental hazards, and performed "Message in a Bottle" as the US finale, with John Mayer playing guitar with Andy Summers (who described the track as a personal favourite in his book One Train Later) and Kanye West performing a rap verse over the chorus of the song.


The song exemplifies the reggae/post-punk style of early Police. It is composed in the key of C-sharp minor with a chord progression of C#m9-Amaj9-B7-F#m. The song's structure is verse-chorus-verse-chorus-outro.

Samples and covers[edit]

Appearances in other media[edit]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Message in a Bottle" (edit) – 3:50 (This edit has yet to appear on CD anywhere)
  2. "Landlord" – 3:09


Chart (1979–80) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[6] 5
Austrian Top 40[7] 24
Belgian Singles Chart 6
Canadian RPM Top Singles[8] 2
Dutch Singles Chart[7] 2
French Singles Chart 3
German Singles Chart[7] 35
Irish Singles Chart 1
Italian Singles Chart 21
New Zealand Singles Chart[7] 11
South African Singles Chart 5
Spanish Singles Chart 1
Swedish Singles Chart[7] 20
UK Singles Chart[2] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 74

Year-end chart[edit]

Chart (1979) Peak
UK Singles Chart 13
Dutch Top 40 37
Belgian VRT Top 30 53
Chart (1980) Peak
Spanish Singles Chart 6
Canadian RPM Top Singles 34
Australian Kent Music Report 40
Italian Singles Chart 80



  1. ^ Shaun Keaveny (2010). R2D2 Lives in Preston: The Best of BBC 6 Music's Toast the Nation!. p. 125. Pan Macmillan,
  2. ^ a b "POLICE | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "John Butler Trio - Message in a bottle". YouTube. 14 March 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  4. ^ A message from Guy. Mount Franklin Water. Archived from the original on 7 December 2012.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Steffen Hung. "The Police - Message In A Bottle". Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  9. ^ "The Police - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 28 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Cars" by Gary Numan
UK number one single
29 September 1979 – 13 October 1979
Succeeded by
"Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles