1901 (song)

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"1901" cover art
Single by Phoenix
from the album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
ReleasedFebruary 23, 2009 (2009-02-23)
StudioMotorbass (Paris)
Phoenix singles chronology
"Consolation Prizes"

"1901" is a song by French indie pop band Phoenix. It was released as the lead single from their fourth studio album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009), on 23 February 2009. It peaked at number 73 in Canada and number 84 in the United States, making "1901" the band's first song to chart there. It also reached number one on the US Alternative Songs chart. The song has been covered by English singer Birdy.

Origin and description[edit]

It was released in February 2009 as the album's lead single, originally as a free download from the band's official website, but was issued as a retail single due to the song's popularity. A black-and-white music video for the song was released in May.[2] In July, the song entered the U.S. Billboard Alternative Songs chart, where it later reached number one,[3] becoming only the fourth independent label single to achieve the feat.[4] The single was re-issued in the UK in February 2010.[5] According to lead singer Thomas Mars, the song is about early 20th century Paris. Mars said, "Paris in 1901 was better than it is now. So the song is a fantasy about Paris."[6]

Phoenix performed "1901" on television programs such as The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien,[7] Late Show with David Letterman,[8] Saturday Night Live,[9] and MTV's It's On with Alexa Chung.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

The song has received very positive reviews from music critics, with Pitchfork Media's Jason Crock saying it is "just as smooth and spirited and dementedly catchy as any of their best singles."[10] The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll ranked "1901" at number two to find the best music of 2009, after Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind". In October 2009, "1901" ranked number 228 in Pitchfork's list of "The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s,"[11] the fifth-highest placement on the list amongst 2009 songs.[12] The NME's Gavin Haynes praised the song's "rave-like stop-go guitars,"[13] while Evan Sawdey of PopMatters said it might be Phoenix's "finest song to date."[14] Philadelphia Inquirer music critic Dan DeLuca described the song as "joyously exultant riff-happy pop."[15] The song was ranked number two on Spin magazine's list of the "20 Best Summer Songs of 2009."[16]

In popular culture[edit]

The song is featured in episodes of Friday Night Dinner, Gossip Girl, Melrose Place, The Vampire Diaries and Hellcats, the trailer for the film New York, I Love You,[17] television advertisements for PlayStation[5] and the 2010 Cadillac SRX,[7] and appears on the soundtrack to the NHL 2K10 video game.[18] An edited version is also used as the theme tune for BBC Radio 5 Live's 6-0-6 football phone-in show.

Samples from the song were also used for the track "Triple Double" from Girl Talk's fifth studio album, All Day.

The song was released for the Rock Band series on January 19, 2010 along with "Lisztomania". It was released as part of a Phoenix Track Pack for Guitar Hero 5 on April 8, 2010. It appears on the Test Drive Unlimited 2 soundtrack. The song is also featured as the default music for the "Modern" template in the iOS version of iMovie. The song is also featured on the NHL 2K10 and NBA 2K13 soundtrack. The song appears on the soundtrack of Forza Horizon, playing on the Horizon Pulse in-game radio station, and in the free-to-play MMOTPS sandbox game APB: Reloaded (All Points Bulletin: Reloaded). In 2014, the song was featured in Boyhood.[19]

Track listing[edit]

Promo CD single
  1. "1901" – 3:13

Chart performance[edit]

For the week ending December 19, 2009, "1901" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 90. It peaked at number 84 for the week ending January 23, 2010. The single also reached number 73 on the Canadian Hot 100. The single would also top the Alternative chart for two weeks, and become the second longest running song on the chart at the time at 57 weeks, trailing only "Savior" by Rise Against, which was also in the latter part of its record breaking 65-week run.

Chart (2009–11) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[3] 84
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[3] 1
US Rock Airplay (Billboard)[3] 3
US Rock Songs (Billboard)[3] 3
US Adult Alternative Songs (Billboard)[3] 6
US Adult Pop Songs (Billboard)[3] 34
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[3] 73


Country Certification
(sales thresholds)
United States Platinum[20]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Spin U.S. Best Songs of 2009[21] 2009 2
Pitchfork Media U.S. Top 100 Tracks of 2009[22] 2009 3
Slant Magazine U.S. Top 25 Songs of 2009[23] 2009 3
Rolling Stone U.S. Best Songs of 2009[24] 2009 5
Rolling Stone U.S. Best Songs of the Decade[25] 2009 80
Pitchfork U.S. Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s[11] 2009 228
Triple J Australia Hottest 100 Countdown 2009[26] 2010 13

Birdy version[edit]

Single by Birdy
from the album Birdy
Released9 March 2012 (2012-03-09)
FormatDigital download
GenreIndie folk
Producer(s)Rich Costey
Birdy singles chronology
"People Help the People"

English singer Birdy released a cover version of the song on March 9, 2012 as a digital download in the United Kingdom.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "1901" was uploaded to YouTube on October 25, 2009.[27] Featured artists include Helen George and Ian Roe.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[28] 12
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[29] 11

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United Kingdom 9 March 2012 Digital download Warner

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Payne, Chris (15 April 2013). "Phoenix, 'Bankrupt!': Track-by-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  2. ^ "New Phoenix Video - '1901'". Stereogum. 2009-05-14. Archived from the original on 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "'1901' - Phoenix". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.). Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  4. ^ "Chart Beat Wednesday: Phoenix, Black Eyed Peas, Kutless". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc.). Retrieved 2010-02-17.
  5. ^ a b "Phoenix Add Extra London Date". Clash. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  6. ^ "12 Best Spin Sessions of 2009". Spin. 2009-12-31. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
  7. ^ a b "Phoenix Play Conan, Cadillac Crossover Commercial". Stereogum. 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  8. ^ a b "Phoenix Play '1901' For Alexa Chung, David Letterman". Stereogum. 2009-06-19. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  9. ^ "Uninspired SNL At Least Yields Extra Phoenix". Stereogum. 2009-04-05. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  10. ^ Crock, Jason (2009-03-08). "Track Reviews - Phoenix - '1901'". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  11. ^ a b "The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s: 500-201". Pitchfork Media. 2009-08-17. Archived from the original on 2010-06-22. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  12. ^ "Pitchfork's 20 Greatest Songs of the '00s (and 15 Greatest Songs of 2009 So Far)". Stereogum. 2009-08-21. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  13. ^ Haynes, Gavin (2009-05-15). "Album review - Phoenix". NME (IPC Media). Archived from the original on 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  14. ^ Sawdey, Evan (2009-05-27). "It's Not a Miracle They Needed..." PopMatters. Archived from the original on 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  15. ^ "A Playlist of the Best for Your Summer Mix". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 2009-07-05. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  16. ^ "20 Best Summer Songs of 2009". Spin. 2009-09-08. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  17. ^ "Phoenix - Filmography". IMDb.com, Inc. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  18. ^ "'NHL 2K10' Soundtrack Revealed". 2kHockey.net. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
  19. ^ Rodriguez, Cain (13 June 2014). "Soundtrack For Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' Includes Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Flaming Lips & More". IndieWire. Archived from the original on 2014-08-10. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  20. ^ "Recording Industry Association of America". RIAA. Archived from the original on 2013-02-25. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
  21. ^ "The 20 Best Songs of 2009". Spin. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  22. ^ "Pitchfork Staff Lists: The Top 100 Tracks of 2009". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  23. ^ "2009: Year in Music". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  24. ^ "The 25 Best Songs of 2009". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2010-01-14.
  25. ^ "100 Best Songs of the Decade". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  26. ^ "Hottest 100 Countdown 2009". Triple J. Retrieved 2010-02-04.
  27. ^ "Phoenix - 1901". YouTube.com. October 25, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  28. ^ "Ultratop.be – Birdy – 1901" (in Dutch). Ultratip.
  29. ^ "Ultratop.be – Birdy – 1901" (in French). Ultratip.

External links[edit]