Mulder and Scully (song)

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"Mulder and Scully"
Single by Catatonia
from the album International Velvet
Released January 1998
Format CD
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:11
Label Blanco y Negro Records
Writer(s) Cerys Matthews, Mark Roberts
Producer(s) Tommy D, Catatonia
Catatonia singles chronology
"I Am the Mob"
(1997)
"Mulder and Scully"
(1998)
"Road Rage"
(1998)

"Mulder and Scully" is a song by Catatonia, released as a single from their 1998 album, International Velvet. The song makes direct reference to FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), the two main characters of the popular sci-fi TV series The X-Files who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. In an interview Cerys Matthews, co-writer of the song, explained that while she was not a serious fan of the show, the basic premise of the series matched the conceit of what she was trying to express.

"Mulder and Scully" was released as the second single from the band's album International Velvet. Originally, it was supposed to be the first single, but was delayed due to circumstances beyond the band's control. The song was Catatonia's first single in the United States. "Mulder and Scully" became the group's break-out hit and received a mixed to positive from the music press; many critics felt that, musically, the song was well played, but that the track's pop culture references were out of place.

A music video was released that featured the band performing the track while Mulder and Scully, played by look-alikes, search the concert venue with torches. It was popular in both the United Kingdom and the United States. The song reached number three in the UK Singles Chart, making it Catatonia's highest UK charting song. It also charted in Ireland, peaking at number 17.

Lyrics and composition[edit]

The song makes direct reference to FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), the two main characters of the popular sci-fi TV series The X-Files who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files.[1] Although the title and refrain reference the popular show, the song has little to do with the two characters. The use of Mulder and Scully are used to represent a metaphor for a relationship "turning pear-shaped"; that is to say a relationship becoming so "strange" that it could be "a case for Mulder and Scully", a reference to the paranormal cases—the titular X-Files—the two investigate on the show.[2] Cerys Matthews, the co-writer of the song, explained that the conceit of the song was "about asking Mulder and Scully to figure out this thing called love. I like the idea of two people going round the planet investigating odd phenomena, in this case love".[3]

Matthews later admitted that she was not a serious fan of the show, but that she only used the line because it adequately described the type of relationship she was singing about.[4] In an interview with the Daily Record, she explained, "I'm not a big fan of [The X-Files] but I got the line about things getting strange for Mulder and Scully from watching the odd episode".[5] After questioning, she later said that she would "prefer to go out for a night on the town with Gazza and Chris Evans than meet [The X-Files] stars Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny".[5] Matthews also related that "I'm sure loads of people bought the record by mistake, but who cares? They should be flattered we wrote a song about [The X-Files] anyway".[6]

Release and acclaim[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[7]
Melody Maker "Single of the Week"[2]

The song was met with mixed to positive reviews from critics; many reviewers lauded the band's musical composition, but maligned the track for its heavy reliance on pop culture references. The Sunday Mirror wrote positively of the song and called it "hard rockin' [sic]".[8] Ben Myers from the now-defunct music magazine Melody Maker named the song the "Single of the Week" and called it "fantastic".[2] He noted that "they've damn near written a perfect pop song. The first best single of the year".[2] Jerry Rubino, host of the popular radio show "Left of Center", named the song one of his favorite "Brit Things".[9] A review from PopMatters noted that the song was built around "somewhat silly X-Files references", but that it possessed "hooks to die for".[10] Stephen Thomas Erlewine, from AllMusic gave the song a relatively positive review and singled it out as an "AllMusic Pick". He also praised the song's "terrific [hook]" but was slightly critical of the "self-conscious pop culture references".[11] Despite this, he noted the band was successfully able to "bring memorable melodies to the [song]".[11] A subsequent review by AllMusic awarded the single, by itself, two-and-a-half stars out of five.[7] NME called the song "little more than fodder for nostalgia TV", written by a "lazy television researcher's imagination".[12]

The song was later included on various Britpop compilations, including the Common People: The Britpop Story album,[13] and the 100 Hits of the 90s album, released by the BBC.[14] Cerys Matthews and the band were extremely pleased with the final product, calling it a "better song" than "All Around the World" by Oasis, the single's main competitor at the time.[15] Matthews later said that the lyrics for "Mulder and Scully" were "good, top to bottom".[15] Catatonia later released the song as part of their 2002 greatest hits album.[12]

Chart performance[edit]

Originally, Catatonia wished to release "Mulder and Scully" during the summer of 1997. However, due to complications, these plans were scrapped and the song "I Am the Mob" was released instead.[16] "Mulder and Scully" was eventually released in January 1998 and, due to heavy promotion via BBC Radio 1, soon became the band's break-out hit, propelling them "into the limelight […] numerous interviews and television appearances".[16][17][18] The band's record label, Blanco y Negro Records, promoted the single with a press release that described the song as "[s]pooky but spiky" and a "clever grower of a track".[19] The song debuted on the United Kingdom chart on 31 January 1998 and made its last appearance on 4 April 1998. During its first week of release, the single performed exceptionally well. Music stores reported that the physical release of "Mulder and Scully" was selling slightly fewer copies than Usher's single "You Make Me Wanna...". Cerys Matthews later told Melody Maker that the single out-sold Oasis "for two days".[15] During its first week, "Mulder and Scully" peaked on the chart at number three and spent a total of 10 weeks on the chart.[20][21] The song also charted on the Irish Singles Chart, entering the charts on 2 May 1998. It peaked at number 17 and spent five weeks charting.[22] Later, a Japanese EP was released under the name "Mulder and Scully EP". It combined tracks from the title single, as well as the "I Am the Mob" and "Road Rage" singles.[23]

Music Video[edit]

The music video for "Mulder and Scully" was directed by Gerald McMorrow and features the band performing at a venue intercut with scenes of life on a tour bus at night. All the while, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully—played by look-alikes—investigate the area around the concert with torches. Eventually, the agents begin passionately kissing while Catatonia plays their song on a stage. The video was filmed at T.J.'s, a famous rock concert venue in Newport, Wales. A call was made for fans of the band to arrive and play the part of the audience. The entire video shoot took a full day to film.[24] The video for "Mulder and Scully" was extremely popular; according to Billboard magazine, the video for "Mulder and Scully" received "heavy rotation" and was played "30 to 35" times weekly in the United Kingdom.[25] The video was heavily promoted in the United States, due in part to its direct allusion to The X-Files, and received decent airplay.[25][26]

Track listing[edit]

UK CD single[27]
  1. "Mulder and Scully" – 4:10
  2. "No Stone Unturned" – 3:28
  3. "Mantra for the Lost" – 2:47
  4. "Mulder and Scully (The Ex-Files Mix)" – 4:53
Japanese EP[23]
  1. "Mulder and Scully (Album Version)" – 4:10
  2. "Road Rage (Radio Edit)" – 5:10
  3. "Jump or Be Sane" – 4:00
  4. "No Stone Unturned" – 3:28
  5. "Mantra for the Lost" – 2:47
  6. "I'm Cured" – 2:55
  7. "Blow the Millennium Pt.2" – 2:30
  8. "I Am the Mob (Luca Brasi Mix)" – 3:41
  9. "Mulder and Scully (The Ex-Files Mix)" – 4:53
  10. "Road Rage (Ghia)" – 5:10

Charts[edit]

Chart (1998) Peak
position
Irish Singles Chart[22] 17
UK Singles Chart[21] 3

Personnel[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Trewyn, Hywel; Anthony Barnes (22 September 2001). "Catatonia Split Up; Sadness and Shock as Welsh Band Calls it a Day". Daily Post. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Myers, Ben (17 January 1998). "Mulder & Scully". Melody Maker 75 (3): 38. 
  3. ^ "Chart Slot; Top 10 Singles". Daily Record. 16 January 1998. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  4. ^ Roberts, Leo (18 December 1997). "Catatonia are Restless". The Mirror. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Dingwall, John (30 January 1998). "Tomboy Jones". Daily Record. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  6. ^ Hyland, Ian (29 March 1998). "MUSIC; Bubbly Cerys is Off the Pop After Gliding Shock". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Mulder and Scully – Catatonia". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  8. ^ Hyland, Ian (1 February 1998). "Best Albums". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  9. ^ Rubino, Jerry (13 February 1999). "A Few of Our Favorite Brit Things". Billboard: 80. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  10. ^ Sarah Zupko. "Pop Matters review: Equally Cursed and Blessed". Retrieved 12 January 2007. 
  11. ^ a b "International Velvet – Catatonia". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 January 2007. 
  12. ^ a b "Catatonia : Greatest Hits". NME. 27 August 2002. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "Pulp, Elastica, Supergrass for 'Common People' Britpop compilation". NME. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "100 Hits – 90s at BBC". BBC. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c "Nine out of 10 Cats Prefer It". Melody Maker 75 (5): 5. 31 January 1998. 
  16. ^ a b "Catatonia". Wales Music. BBC. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "Cerys Matthews: Rise of a Star.". Europe Intelligence Wire. 22 September 2002. Retrieved 28 June 2012.  (subscription required)
  18. ^ "Catatonia Biography". Sing365.com. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  19. ^ "Catatonia: Mulder And Scully (Blanco Y Negro NEG109CD)". Music Week. 17 January 1998. Retrieved 28 June 2012.  (subscription required)
  20. ^ "British chart positions". chartstats.com. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  21. ^ a b "1998 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive 31st – January 1998". UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  22. ^ a b "Irish singles positions". irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 3 March 2010.  Note: To retrieve information, type "Catatonia" in the "Search for Artist" bar
  23. ^ a b Mulder and Scully (liner; EP). Catatonia. Japan: Blanco y Negro Records. 1998. 
  24. ^ "New Adventures in Sci-Fi". Melody Maker 4 (75): 24. 24 January 1998. 
  25. ^ a b Pride, Dominic (4 July 1998). "Welsh Act Catatonia Hopes to Rouse U.S. with Vapor Debut". Billboard: 11, 87. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  26. ^ "The Clip List". Billboard: 73. 8 August 1998. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  27. ^ Mulder and Scully (liner; CD single). Catatonia. London, United Kingdom: Blanco y Negro Records. 1998. 

External links[edit]