Porcelain (song)

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This article is about the song by Moby. For other songs, see Porcelain (disambiguation).
"Porcelain"
Single by Moby
from the album Play
B-side "Summer"
Released June 12, 2000
Format CD single, cassette, 12-inch
Genre Downtempo, ambient, trip hop
Length 4:01 (album version)
3:32 (single version)
Label Mute, V2
Writer(s) Moby
Producer(s) Moby
Moby singles chronology
"Natural Blues"
(2000)
"Porcelain"
(2000)
"Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?" / "Honey" (Remix)
(2001)

"Porcelain" is a song by American electronica musician Moby. It was released as the sixth single from his fifth studio album Play on June 12, 2000. Its melancholy lyrics describe a break-up and were written by Moby – who also performs lead vocals on the track – based on his experiences with an unidentified woman. An ambient song, it also incorporates reversed string samples and piano rhythms into its instrumentation. While Moby initially expressed disdain over the song and its production, he was eventually talked into including it on Play.

The song was well received by music critics, who praised its arrangement and named it a standout track on Play. It became one of the most successful singles from the album upon release, becoming a top five hit in the United Kingdom and managing to chart highly in several other countries. Moby later licensed "Porcelain", along with the remainder of Play, for use in several forms of media. Two different music videos were produced for the song, directed by Jonas Åkerlund and Nick Brandt.

Background and composition[edit]

A 24-second sample of the song

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Porcelain" was written and produced by Moby for his fifth studio album Play (1999) and recorded in his Little Italy, Manhattan apartment.[1] He found the inspiration to compose the song from his experiences with an unidentified woman; speaking to Billboard, he explained: "I was involved with this really, really wonderful woman, and I loved her very much. But I knew deep in my heart of hearts that we had no business being romantically involved. So, it's sort of about being in love with someone but knowing you shouldn't be with them."[2] Moby initially disliked the track, criticizing his production as "mushy" and his vocals as "really weak".[3] He had dismissed "Porcelain" as "average" and later recalled that he "couldn't imagine anyone else wanting to listen to it" – however, he was eventually talked into including it on Play.[3]

Featuring vocals performed by Moby,[4] "Porcelain" is a mid-tempo, ambient song.[5] Its introspective, wistful lyrics describe "loving someone, but having to break up with them anyway."[6] Composed in the key of E-flat major and running at a tempo of 96 beats per minute, "Porcelain" follows a constant four-chord progression (Gm−B♭−Fm−A♭) in the B♭ mixolydian mode, with the exception of a bridge midway through the song.[7] Its instrumentation incorporates reversed string samples and piano rhythms.[8] "Porcelain" also makes use of the drum machine and includes several layered elements, including vocal samples, synthesizer chords and a cello line.[1] Pilar Basso performs additional vocals on the song.[9]

The strings in the song are sampled from Ernest Fold's song Fight For Survival and are reversed.

Critical reception[edit]

"Porcelain" received generally positive reviews from music critics. Alexandra Marshall of MTV called the song a "lush little snippet which sounds like a basement tape from a Magnetic Fields EP."[10] A writer for the Birmingham Evening Mail wrote that its "sweeping melody and atmospheric vocals" create a "distinctive soundscape".[11] Brent DiCrescenzo of Pitchfork Media remarked that the song "tenderly glides down throats like lithium."[12] While commenting that Play "need[s] of a bit of pruning", David Browne of Entertainment Weekly cited "Porcelain" as an exception and praised it as "gorgeous".[4] In their "Chartslot" feature, the Daily Record described the song as "ideal for chilling out to on a summer's evening."[13] Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times characterized the Play songs "Honey" and "Porcelain" as "emotional and gripping" and wrote that if "[they] didn't move you (in every sense of the word), then you probably had no pulse."[14] Playlouder named "Porcelain" the twenty-sixth best single of 2000, calling it the album's "most crushingly heavenly track" and praising its combination of piano melodies with Moby's "hauntingly haunted" vocals.[15] The song ranked at number fifty-six on The Village Voice '​s annual Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[16] Q placed "Porcelain" at number 253 on their list of the 1,001 Best Songs Ever.[17]

Commercial performance[edit]

The song was released as the sixth single from Play on June 12, 2000.[18] Like all other songs from its parent album, it was licensed for use in several commercials, television programs and films.[19] English film director Danny Boyle featured "Porcelain" in his 2000 film The Beach, with Moby crediting its inclusion in the film for raising awareness of the record.[3] Other notable uses include commercials for the Volkswagen Polo, Bosch and France Télécom.[20] "Porcelain" became one of the most successful singles from Play upon release – Moby has since referred to it as the "most signature song" on the album.[3] It debuted at number five on the UK Singles Chart and spent a total of six weeks on the chart.[21] The single became a top thirty hit in Ireland and Poland, where it peaked at numbers 26 and 14 respectively.[22][23] "Porcelain" also managed to chart in several other European countries, including France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.[24][25][26][27] In North America, it peaked at number 50 on the Canadian RPM singles chart and charted on the United States Billboard Adult Pop Songs, Alternative Songs and Hot Dance Club Songs charts.[28][29][30] Liana Jonas of Allmusic wrote that the song's commercial success "helped bring electronica music into the limelight", calling it a "groundbreaking recording".[1]

Music videos[edit]

Two separate music videos were produced for "Porcelain". The first version, directed by Jonas Åkerlund,[31] is primarily a simple close-up of a human eye; various images are reflected onto the eye throughout the course of the video, including Moby performing the song, people smiling and a piano being played.[32]

The second video, directed by Nick Brandt, features Moby sitting in the back seat of a moving car without a driver as it drives through a city, on a highway where an oncoming car with a girl in the back, looking at Moby, had to go in the other lane when the DeVille drifted into their lane. The car then left turns into a field and drives through a forest, past cattle, and finally down the hills going into the distance.[33] The Åkerlund-directed version only aired in European markets and was not released in the United States until its inclusion on the video album Play: The DVD.[34]

Formats and track listings[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2000) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[40] 56
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[41] 6
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[42] 2
Canada (RPM)[43] 50
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[44] 46
France (SNEP)[24] 99
Germany (Media Control AG)[25] 63
Ireland (IRMA)[22] 26
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[26] 68
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[45] 17
Poland (ZPAV)[23] 14
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[27] 79
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[21] 5
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[28] 24
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[29] 18
US Hot Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[30] 14

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United Kingdom[46][47] June 12, 2000 CD single Mute Records
July 3, 2000 12-inch single
United States[48] August 22, 2000 V2 Records
France[49] August 29, 2000 CD single Mute Records
Germany[36] September 8, 2000
France[50] April 30, 2001 CD single (enhanced)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Jonas, Liana. "Porcelain – Moby". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ Pesselnick, Jill (July 22, 2000). "The Modern Age". Billboard (New York) 112 (30). Retrieved June 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Weingarten, Christopher R. (July 2, 2009). "'Play' 10 Years Later: Moby's Track by Track Guide to 1999's Global Smash". Rolling Stone (New York). Archived from the original on May 10, 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Browne, David (June 11, 1999). "Music Review: Moby – Play". Entertainment Weekly (New York). Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  5. ^ Flick, Larry (February 26, 2000). "V2 Album Reveals Moby at 'Play'". Billboard (New York): 18. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Moby The Very Best Of Interview". Shakenstir. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  7. ^ Hall, Richard. "Moby – Porcelain Sheet Music". Kobalt Music Publishing America. MN0039682. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ Bush, John. "Moby – Play". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on May 12, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2013. 
  9. ^ Play (liner notes). Moby. V2 Records. 1999. 63881-27049-2. 
  10. ^ Marshall, Alexandra (February 23, 2001). "Play". MTV. Viacom Media Networks. Archived from the original on February 3, 2002. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Music Power: Singles: Pick Of The Week". Birmingham Evening Mail. June 13, 2000. Retrieved May 18, 2013. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ DiCrescenzo, Brent (June 1, 1999). "Moby: Play". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Chartslot". Daily Record (Scotland). June 23, 2000. Retrieved May 18, 2013. (subscription required (help)). 
  14. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (December 26, 1999). "Best music off the beaten path; It was a bad year for pop-rock music". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 18, 2013. (subscription required (help)). 
  15. ^ "Top 50 Singles". Playlouder. Archived from the original on April 20, 2001. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  16. ^ "The 2000 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice (New York). February 22, 2000. Archived from the original on August 23, 2004. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  17. ^ "1,001 Best Songs Ever". Q (London). November 2003. 
  18. ^ "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? Elton John Sings". NME (London). April 7, 2000. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  19. ^ Grundy, Gareth (June 15, 2011). "Moby licenses every track on Play. Ker-ching!". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  20. ^ Simpson, Dave (May 5, 2000). "Plug and play". The Guardian (London). Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  21. ^ a b "Archive Chart: 2000-06-24" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  22. ^ a b "Chart Track: Week 25, 2000". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  23. ^ a b "Notowanie nr 967 z dnia 11.08.2000". Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  24. ^ a b "Lescharts.com – Moby – Porcelain" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  25. ^ a b "Moby – Porcelain". Charts.de. Media Control. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  26. ^ a b "Dutchcharts.nl – Moby – Porcelain" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  27. ^ a b "Swisscharts.com – Moby – Porcelain". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  28. ^ a b "Moby Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Adult Pop Songs for Moby. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  29. ^ a b "Moby Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Alternative Songs for Moby. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  30. ^ a b "Moby Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs for Moby. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  31. ^ Play: The DVD (back cover). Moby. Mute Records. 2001. 7243 4 92573 9 9. 
  32. ^ "Porcelain | Moby | Music Video". MTV. Viacom Media Networks. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  33. ^ Rahman, Rema (November 21, 2008). "Songs I Forgot I Loved: Moby's Porcelain". Cinema Blend. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  34. ^ D'Angelo, Joe (June 13, 2001). "Moby Gives Fans The Order: Play The DVD". MTV News. MTV. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Porcelain (CD – Mute #252) – Moby". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  36. ^ a b "Porcelain". Amazon (GER). Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  37. ^ "Porcelain (Remix) [CD2]". Amazon (UK). Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  38. ^ Porcelain (track listing). Moby. Mute Records. 2000. CMUTE252. 
  39. ^ Porcelain (track listing). Moby. V2 Records. 2000. 63881-27650-1. 
  40. ^ "The ARIA Report: Issue 566 (Week Commencing 1 January 2001)" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. p. 4. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  41. ^ "Ultratop.be – Moby – Porcelain" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  42. ^ "Ultratop.be – Moby – Porcelain" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  43. ^ "RPM 100 Hit Tracks & where to find them". RPM (Toronto) 71 (21). September 25, 2000. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  44. ^ "RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks". RPM (Toronto) 71 (14). August 7, 2000. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  45. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Moby – Porcelain". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  46. ^ "Porcelain". Amazon (UK). Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  47. ^ "Porcelain [12" Vinyl]". Amazon (UK). Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  48. ^ "Porcelain Pt.1". Amazon (US). Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  49. ^ "Porcelain 1". Amazon (FRA). Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  50. ^ "Porcelain". Amazon (FRA). Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 

External links[edit]