Strict Machine

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"Strict Machine"
Single by Goldfrapp
from the album Black Cherry
B-side "White Soft Rope"
Released 21 July 2003 (UK)
10 May 2004 (UK re-release)
Format CD: worldwide
12": UK
Download: worldwide
Box set: UK
Recorded Bath, England
Genre Electroclash
Length 3:45 (single mix)
3:51 (album version)
Label Mute
Writer(s) Alison Goldfrapp, Will Gregory, Nick Batt
Producer(s) Goldfrapp
Goldfrapp singles chronology
"Strict Machine"

"Strict Machine" is an electronic dance song written by British group Goldfrapp and Nick Batt for their second studio album Black Cherry (2003). It was produced by Goldfrapp and describes laboratory rats in neuroscience experiments.[1] Alison Goldfrapp read in a newspaper about experiments in which scientists stimulated rats' brains so that the rats would feel joy when following commands. She was inspired to write "Strict Machine" based on images of the experiment and "more human aspects of machines and sex and control."[2]

Wonderful Electric, Goldfrapp's concert tour DVD in support of Black Cherry, was named after lyrics in the song.

Release and reception[edit]

The song was released as the album's second single in July 2003 (see 2003 in music). It received a positive reception from music critics and became the band's second single to appear in the top thirty on singles charts in the United Kingdom. In May 2004, the song was re-issued and became Goldfrapp's first top twenty single in the UK. In the United States, "Strict Machine" was released to success on the Billboard dance charts, where it reached the top position on the Dance Club chart and number three on the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart. The song won the dance award at the 49th Ivor Novello Awards.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

"Strict Machine" received positive reviews from music critics. In a review for the NME, Peter Robinson called it "a solid gold, honest-to-goodness hit record which should be Number One immediately."[4] Andy Hermann wrote for PopMatters that the song was "a future S&M club anthem if ever there was one".[5] Dorian Lynskey of Blender magazine also linked "Strict Machine"'s lyrics to sadomasochism, and he compared it to Donna Summer's 1977 disco single "I Feel Love".[6] In his review for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis likened the song's "tubthumping drums" to Gary Glitter, 1980s arena rock, and hardstep, adding that "the end result is not only fantastic, but quiveringly sexy to boot".[7]

In August 2009, American music web site Pitchfork Media listed "Strict Machine" in their Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s at number 379.[8]

Chart performance[edit]

On 21 July 2003, "Strict Machine" was released in the United Kingdom. The song became Goldfrapp's second top thirty single when it debuted at number twenty-five on the singles chart, and spent a total of six weeks in the top seventy-five. The song was re-released on 10 May 2004 and surpassed its previous chart position in the UK by recharting at number twenty, becoming Goldfrapp's first top twenty single.

The song was also successful outside the UK. It reached number twenty-six in Canada and became Goldfrapp's first single release to chart in the country. Although the single sold considerably, "Strict Machine" did not chart on the Canadian BDS Airplay chart, receiving most of its sales from its fans in the dance clubs. In Australia, the song peaked at number fifty-four and would remain as Goldfrapp's only single to chart in the country until the release of "Ooh La La" in 2005.

After the favourable reception of "Twist" and "Black Cherry" on the dance charts, "Strict Machine" was released in the United States. It became their first release to reach the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, where it remained for one week.[9] It also performed well on the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart, where it reached number three.[10] The single sold over 170,000 copies worldwide.[11]

Music video[edit]

Alison Goldfrapp in a kaleidoscopic setting containing Archigram-style buildings.

The song's music video, a mixture of graphic and live action segments, builds upon the art direction featured on the band's album and single covers. Throughout the video, Alison Goldfrapp is surrounded by black and white animated backgrounds, Siberian Husky-headed dancers, and colourful butterflies. The video uses kaleidoscopic layouts and dense graphic designs.[12]

The music video was directed by Jonas Odell. The settings' architecture is inspired by the work of Archigram.[13] Goldfrapp and her back-up dancers were filmed in London against a bluescreen. The animated sequences were done by Odell's Filmtecknarna studio in Stockholm, Sweden.[14]


The track appears to contain backmasking. When played backwards, the reversed lyrics appear to say, "Eeeooh, eeeooh, something's new. I love, you. I love, you." There also seem to be hints that backmasking is present even when the track is played forwards. Vocalised elements from 1min:17secs to 1min:30sec from the end of the track are clearly reversed, and when those elements are played forward (i.e. when the track is played backwards) they turn out to be Alison erotically enthusing, "yeah, yeah, oh yeah."[15]

Formats and track listings[edit]

These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "Strict Machine".


Chart (2003) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[16] 54
UK Singles Chart[17] 25
Chart (2004) Peak
UK Singles Chart[17] 201
Canadian Singles Chart[18] 26
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[18] 1
US Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales[18] 3

1 2004 reissue

Use in the media[edit]

  • "Strict Machine" was featured in a short Game Boy Advance commercial in the United States along with the Goldfrapp song "Train".
  • In 2003, the song was featured in a television advert for the fragrance "Night" by Armani. In France, promotional CD singles were created to promote the song and the commercial. The promotional single featured the single mix of "Strict Machine", the song's music video and the commercial.
  • In 2006, the "We Are Glitter" mix of the song was used in the film Miami Vice.
  • In 2006, Verizon Wireless began launching a new phone named "Chocolate". "Strict Machine" is featured on the commercial and website.
  • In 2006, the song was featured at the end of HBO's Big Love season 1 episode 10 entitled "The Baptism".
  • In August 2006, "Strict Machine" was prominently featured in one of many promos for season four of the U.S. television drama Nip/Tuck.
  • "Strict Machine" was used by the WB Television Network show Charmed during the opening sequence of the episode titled "The Courtship of Wyatt's Father" which aired on 22 February 2004.
  • "Strict Machine" was used in the CSI: Miami episode entitled "Going, Going, Gone" in November 2006.
  • The song is featured in a current Subaru advert on New Zealand television.
  • In 2008, was used as part of a Contemporary routine on Season 1 of the Australian So You Think You Can Dance. The dance partners were Jack and Demi.
  • This song is used in the game, Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova 2.
  • The song is featured on the movie D.E.B.S.
  • It was also used in an advertisement for the second line of Fashion Xtravaganza Xelibri phones.
  • In 2010 the track was used briefly in season 7, episode 2, of Entourage.
  • The song was featured in the official trailer for the 2011 film Limitless.


U.K. garage trio Band of Skulls performed a folk version of the song for Australia's Triple J radio station.[19]

Suzi Quatro covered the track for her 2011 album, In the Spotlight. The lyrics of Quatro's version of the song contain two extra lines from her number one hit "Can the Can", in order to show the similarity of the two tunes. Jon O'Brien of AllMusic wrote that Quatro's "Strict Machine" is

"a guitar-chugging mash-up of Goldfrapp's electro-pop reinvention in "Strict Machine"; [with] her own 1973 U.K. chart-topper "Can the Can," cleverly referencing the subtle similarities between the two; ...".[20]

On 16 November 2011 the music video for Quatro's "Strict Machine" was released via the SUZI QUATRO OFFICIAL YouTube channel. It was produced by Victory Tischler-Blue, formerly Vicky Blue of The Runaways, and includes the extra two lines from "Can the Can".[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Benson, Richard (2 February 2008). "Alison Goldfrapp: ethereal girl". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  2. ^ "Electronica Duo Goldfrapp About 'Black Cherry'". Artist Interviews. April 2003. Retrieved 28 September 2008.
  3. ^ Byrne, Ciar (28 May 2004). "The Darkness are named songwriters of year". The Independent. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  4. ^ Robinson, Peter (27 May 2004). "Goldfrapp : Strict Machine". NME. Retrieved 30 September 2008. 
  5. ^ Hermann, Andy (2 May 2003). "Goldfrapp: Black Cherry". PopMatters. Retrieved 30 September 2008. 
  6. ^ Lynskey, Dorian. "Goldfrapp : Black Cherry Review". Blender. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  7. ^ Petridis, Alexis (18 April 2003). "Goldfrapp: Black Cherry". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 September 2008. 
  8. ^ "Staff Lists: The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s: 500-201". 17 August 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  9. ^ "Hot Dance Club Play". Billboard. Retrieved 4 October 2008. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Black Cherry > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 4 October 2008. 
  11. ^ "Albums 22.05.04: Goldfrapp". Music Week: 35. 22 May 2004. 
  12. ^ Willis, Holly (2005). New Digital Cinema. Wallflower Press. p. 57. ISBN 1-904764-25-8. 
  13. ^ Zappaterra, Yolanda (4 November 2004). "Short range". Design Week 19 (45): 21. 
  14. ^ "Nexus creates kaleidoscope promo for Goldfrapp". Televisual. 1 August 2003.
  15. ^ Nothing to do with Bags or Clothes – Hidden Goldfrapp Lyrics?!! Plum E. Blog[dead link]
  16. ^ "The ARIA Report Issue #937" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2 December 2008. 
  17. ^ a b "Chart Stats: Goldfrapp". Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2008. 
  18. ^ a b c "Goldfrapp > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 December 2008.
  19. ^
  20. ^ O'Brien, Jon. "AllMusic review". Ann Arbor, USA: AllMusic. Retrieved 22 October 2011. 
  21. ^ Victory Tischler-Blue (video producer), Suzi Quatro (actor, vocals, bass), Mike Chapman (album producer), et al. (16 November 2011). Suzi Quatro Strict Machine Official Video (Trailer). SUZI QUATRO OFFICIAL YouTube channel. Retrieved 23 November 2011. From the studios of the brilliant Victory Tischler Blue - here is the official video for Suzi Quatro's Strict Machine. It includes live footage from Suzi's recent Rocks The Spotlight Tour (Sept/Oct 2011) of Australia. Suzi's version of the Goldfrapp song is on her new album In the Spotlight. 

External links[edit]