Steal My Sunshine

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"Steal My Sunshine"
Single by Len
from the album Go soundtrack and You Can't Stop the Bum Rush
Released July 22, 1999
Format CD single, cassette, 12-inch
Recorded Four Ways Studio B
Genre Indie pop
Length 4:25 (album version)
4:00 (edit with dialogue)
3:30 (radio edit)
Label Work
Writer(s) Marc Costanzo, Gregg Diamond
Producer(s) Mumble C
Len singles chronology
"Trillion Daze"
(1997)
"Steal My Sunshine"
(1999)
"Feelin' Alright"
(1999)

"Steal My Sunshine" is a song by Canadian band Len, co-written by band member Marc Costanzo and featuring on their third album You Can't Stop the Bum Rush. The backdrop is based on a sample of a short instrumental portion of Andrea True Connection's 1976 disco single "More, More, More". Supposedly inspired by The Human League's 1982 synthpop hit "Don't You Want Me", the song's vocals alternate between Marc and Sharon Costanzo. Mumble C produced the track. Gregg Diamond, who was given songwriting credit as the original composer of "More, More, More", died three months before the album was released.

The indie pop track became a sleeper hit when radio stations began playing it in March 1999, four months before Len planned to release its album. "Steal My Sunshine" had a commercial single release in July 1999 (see 1999 in music). It received positive reviews from music critics, and its chart success has made Len a one-hit wonder. The song earned a nomination for "Best Single" at the Juno Awards of 2000.

Background[edit]

The song uses chords sampled from "More, More, More".

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Marc Costanzo went to a rave during a time when he and his sister Sharon had gone several months without speaking.[1] While out, he was listening to old disco music with friends and heard Andrea True Connection's "More, More, More".[2] Marc decided to loop part of the song's bridge and wrote "Steal My Sunshine". When he returned home, he presented the song to Sharon. The two recorded it on an 8-track 1/2 inch recorder, and she threw the reel in a closet.[1] Marc stated that "Steal My Sunshine" did not make much of an impression on him, so Len did not originally plan to include it on You Can't Stop the Bum Rush. The master recording was under his bed, so the group was almost unable to find the song.[2]

When producing "Steal My Sunshine", Marc Costanzo wanted to make a song similar to The Human League's 1981 synthpop single "Don't You Want Me".[2] As a result, the song's structure is characterized by alternating between male and female vocals from Marc and Sharon.[3] The lyrics are mostly nonsensical, including lines such as Now the fuzzy stare from not being there on a confusing morning week impaired my tribal lunar-speak,[4] yet have been interpreted as reflecting the extremes of an adolescent love affair.[5]

Release and reception[edit]

"Steal My Sunshine" was included on the soundtrack to Go, released on March 30, 1999 by Sony Music Entertainment. It received heavy airplay as a result, causing Sony's subsidiary Work Records to push the album's release date from mid-June to May 25, 1999.[6] The song became Len's most successful, reaching the Top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in September 1999.[7] It reached the top ten on the Adult Top 40, Modern Rock Tracks, Top 40 Mainstream, and Top 40 Tracks charts.[8] At the 2000 Juno Awards, "Steal My Sunshine" was nominated for "Best Single" but lost to The Tragically Hip's "Bobcaygeon".[9]

"Steal My Sunshine" received positive reviews from music critics. Rob Brunner of Entertainment Weekly rated it a B+, describing it as a 1990s "Don't You Want Me" with a "smiley groove and alternating male/ female vocals".[10] For The Village Voice, Richard Riegel described the song's beat as "McCoy Tyner playing the Kraftwerk songbook, outlined in aural neon".[11] In her review for Rolling Stone, Karen Schoemer compared Sharon Costanzo's vocals to Josie and the Pussycats.[12] The publication listed "Steal My Sunshine" tenth on its list of the best singles of 1999.[13] The single also garnered high praise from AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine: "Then, there's Len's 'Steal My Sunshine,' as perfect as songs get. This sun-kissed, sun-bleached blend of hip-hop, pop, disco, post-Beastie Boys cleverness and California culture is a priceless, timeless confection that instantly calls up sweltering, shimmering beaches the second the looped keyboard plays. It's a monumentally great single...put it this way, if 'Steal My Sunshine' was the last song I ever heard on this earth, I'd die happy — and it shows that mainstream pop can truly be transcendent".[14] The song was listed third on the 1999 Pazz and Jop list, a survey of several hundred music critics conducted by Robert Christgau.[15] In 2007, Stylus Magazine ranked the song thirteenth on its list of the top fifty one-hit wonders, stating that it "perfectly captured that warm, lazy feeling you get when late summer still seems like it could last forever."[16] For a short period of time, baseball player Melky Cabrera used the song as his batting music. It is also included on the soundtrack of Major League Baseball 2K9, which was released in 2009. It's also included on the Zack and Miri soundtrack. It was also played and referenced to in the "Camping" episode of the TV show Parks and Recreation.

In 2014, "Steal My Sunshine" was re-released on cassette tape by Alcopop! Records.[17]

Music video[edit]

The song's music video was directed by Marc Costanzo and Bradley Walsh, under the stage names The Burger Pimp and B-Rad.[18] When Len had signed to Work Records, one of its demands was to be able to direct its own videos.[3] The group used a $100,000 budget to make the video. They flew to Daytona Beach, Florida with two dozen friends while the area was crowded with people on their spring vacations. They spent much of the budget on alcohol, buying so much that they broke their hotel's elevator trying to lift it. They shot the video in the afternoon so that they could recover from hangovers in the morning and drink in the evening. The scenes were shot without a script or storyboard. In the video, Len and its friends are shown relaxing together and riding on scooters, go-karts, and jet skis.[19] The other half of the video was shot in Venice Beach, California, with the same cast but different background.

Motorrad, whose scooters were included in the music video, later held a promotion giving away scooters of the same model.[3] At the 1999 MuchMusic Video Awards, "Steal My Sunshine" won awards for "Best Video", "Best Pop Video", and "Favourite Canadian Video".[20]

The music video also appeared as a bonus feature on the special edition DVD release of the film Go.

Track listings[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Let the Sunshine In". MTV News. July 1, 1999. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Brunner, Rob. "'Steal' this hook". Entertainment Weekly, issue 501, page 69. September 3, 1999. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c Hay, Carla. "Work's Len 'Bum Rushes' charts". Billboard, volume 111, issue 31, page 9. July 31, 1999.
  4. ^ Lyrics of Steal My Sunshine
  5. ^ Scherman, Tony. "Recordings; High-Quality Bubble Gum". The New York Times. August 8, 1999. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  6. ^ Bell, Carrie. "LEN blends '80s hip-hop, sex-kitten vocals and sarcastic pop". Billboard, volume 111, issue 26, page W14. June 26, 1999.
  7. ^ Pietroluongo, Silvio. "Hot 100 spotlight". Billboard, volume 111, issue 51, page 101. December 18, 1999.
  8. ^ "LEN > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  9. ^ Nazareth, Errol. "McLachlan, Morissette, More Up For Junos". MTV News. February 3, 2000. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  10. ^ Brunner, Rob. "Len: 'Steal My Sunshine'". Entertainment Weekly, issue 490, page 78. June 18, 1999.
  11. ^ Riegel, Richard. "Pretty fly as you feel". The Village Voice, volume 44, issue 31. August 10, 1999.
  12. ^ Schoemer, Karen. "Len". Rolling Stone, issue 820, page 110. September 2, 1999.
  13. ^ Sheffield, Rob. "The year in singles". Rolling Stone, issue 828/829, page 223. December 16–23, 1999.
  14. ^ The Best of TRL Pop review Allmusic.com
  15. ^ "Pazz & Jop 1999". The Village Voice. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  16. ^ Bradley, Jonathan. "Top 50 One Hit Wonders". Stylus Magazine. March 26, 2007. Retrieved from the Internet Archive October 2, 2008.
  17. ^ Gibsone, Harriet (15 May 2014). "Debunking the one-hit wonder: Len's Steal My Sunshine". The Guardian. 
  18. ^ "MTV's buzzworthy". Adweek, volume 40, issue 25. June 21, 1999.
  19. ^ Mason, Neil. "Canada Fly". Melody Maker, volume 76, issue 47, page 26. December 8, 1999.
  20. ^ Hay, Carla. "Canuck MuchMusic Video Awards honor hip-hoppers Len, Infinite". Billboard, volume 111, issue 41, page 94. October 9, 1999.
  21. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Len – Steal My Sunshine". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  22. ^ Italian peak
  23. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Len – Steal My Sunshine" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  24. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Len – Steal My Sunshine". Top 40 Singles.
  25. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Len – Steal My Sunshine". Singles Top 60.
  26. ^ "UK Top 40 Hit Database". everyHit.com. Retrieved October 2, 2008.
  27. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 70, No. 8, December 13, 1999". RPM. Retrieved 2011-03-11. 
  28. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1999". Retrieved 2010-08-28. 

External links[edit]