Blue Velvet (song)

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This article is about the Clovers song. For Shizuka Kudō song, see Blue Velvet (Shizuka Kudō song).
"Blue Velvet"
Single by The Clovers
from the album Blue Velvet
Released 1954
Format 12" vinyl record
Genre Classic pop
Length 2:33[1]
Label Atlantic
Writer(s)

"Blue Velvet" is a popular song written in 1950 by Bernie Wayne and Lee Morris. Originally recorded and performed by Tony Bennett, who charted with it in 1951, it was remade four years later by the traditional R&B group the Clovers. Many other artists have recorded the song, most notably Bobby Vinton. Rolling Stone called the song a doleful prom anthem.[2] The original recording by Bennett was a top twenty hit, while Vinton's version soared to the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100.

Background[edit]

While visiting friends in Richmond VA songwriter Bernie Wayne stayed at the Jefferson Hotel, and it was the sight of a woman at a party held at the Jefferson which inspired Wayne to write the lyric for "Blue Velvet".[3] When Wayne pitched "Blue Velvet" to Columbia Records head a&r man Mitch Miller he'd only played the opening line: "She wore blue velvet...", when Miller interrupted saying: "How about [my giving the song to] Tony Bennett?" Wayne's response: "Don't you want to hear the rest of the song", drew this advice from from Miller: "Quit while you're ahead!"[4]

History of recordings[edit]

  • The first public performance of the song was by singer Ray Mason in 1950 at a fashion show in Boston.[5]
  • The first artist for whom "Blue Velvet" was a hit was Tony Bennett, whose 1951 recording peaked at #16 on the Billboard Best Selling Pop Singles Chart (the predecessor of the Billboard Hot 100).[6]
  • The song was recorded by the Clovers for their album of the same name.[1][7] Released in 1954 through Atlantic Records, the song was released as a single on 10" shellac.[7] The song was initially recorded, produced, and released when the R&B group was still composed of John "Buddy" Bailey (lead singer), Billy Mitchell, Matthew McQuater, Harold Lucas, Harold Winley, Bill Harris.[7] Since, various members left, died, or were replaced, although the group as a whole still performed the song regardless of whom its members were. After the release of the track, it ranked fourteenth on the Billboard chart, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[7]
  • The most popular recording of the song is that of Bobby Vinton, which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 21, 1963, and held the top spot for three weeks and also spent eight weeks atop the U.S. Middle-Road charts[6][8] Vinton's recording failed to make the British charts when originally released, but a re-release in 1990 went to #2 in the United Kingdom. It was #3 in Ireland, #7 in Australia and #9 in Korea.[clarification needed] Having had a #3 hit in the summer of 1963 with "Blue on Blue" had led to Vinton's recording a Blue on Blue album comprising songs featuring the word "blue" in the title. Vinton's friend music publisher Al Gallico suggested "Blue Velvet" as a Blue on Blue album track. Gallico sent his secretary with a dollar to a music store to purchase the song's sheet music, and an hour later Vinton recorded "Blue Velvet" in two takes. Vinton was not a fan of the track and wanted his remake of the standard "Am I Blue?" to be the follow-up single to "Blue on Blue".[9]
  • "Blue Velvet" was included on the Trini Lopez LP The Love Album (1963), issued by Reprise Records.
  • The song was also included on the Brenda Lee album By Request (1964).
  • Jimmy Velvit released a 45rpm single of Blue Velvet in the mid-1960s.
  • Leon Ware covered the song on his 1987 album Undercover.
  • Jazz saxophonist and producer Houston Person recorded it twice, once as an organ quintet version with Joey DeFrancesco, guitarist Randy Johnston, drummer Bertell Knox and percussionist Sammy Figueroa for an 1991 Muse album titled The Party, and then a decade later for the HighNote label. The song became the title track, and was performed with pianist Richard Wyands, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Grady Tate.
  • Barry Manilow included "Blue Velvet" on his 2006 album, The Greatest Songs of the Sixties.
  • Australian singer Jason Donovan recorded the song for his album Let It Be Me (2008).
  • Singer Thomas Truax included a version of "Blue Velvet" on his 2009 album Songs From The Films Of David Lynch.
  • Singer Lana Del Rey has recorded a version for The Paradise Edition re-release of her 2012 debut album, Born To Die and its individual EP title Paradise.[2]

Use in film soundtracks[edit]

"Blue Velvet" is one of thirteen songs featured in Kenneth Anger's groundbreaking experimental film Scorpio Rising (1964). Tony Bennett's version of the song is featured in The Last Picture Show and Raging Bull, while Bobby Vinton's version features several times in David Lynch's film, Blue Velvet (1986). The film is partly inspired by the song's lyrics, where Isabella Rossellini, who plays a singer in the film, also sings the song in-character.[10]

Bobby Vinton's cover[edit]

"Blue Velvet"
Single by Bobby Vinton
from the album Blue on Blue
B-side "Is There a Place (Where I Can Go)"
Released 1963
Genre Classic pop
Length 2:47
Label Epic
Writer(s)
Producer(s) Bob Morgan
Bobby Vinton singles chronology
"Blue on Blue"
(1963)
"Blue Velvet"
(1963)
"There! I've Said It Again"
(1964)

In August 1963 Bobby Vinton released a cover of the song for his sixth studio album, Blue on Blue, which was alternately titled Blue Velvet. The song served as the album's lead single and is, arguably, the most popular recording of the song to exist. On September 21, 1963, it hit number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 and held the top spot for three weeks and also spent eight weeks atop the U.S. Middle-Road charts[6][8] Vinton's recording failed to make the British charts when originally released, but a re-release in 1990 went to #2 in the United Kingdom. It was #7 in Australia and #9 in Korea.[clarification needed]

Neo-noir filmmaker, David Lynch, was inspired by the song, eventually writing and directing a film of the same name. Lynch selected the song because it conceptually matched the mood of the film. Specifically, Lynch said of the song: "the mood that came with that song a mood, a time, and things that were of that time".[11] The film itself heavily incorporates portions of the song. During filming, Lynch placed speakers on set and in streets and played Shostakovich to set the correct mood he wanted to convey for the song.[12] The score makes direct quotations from Shostakovich's 15th Symphony, which Lynch had been listening to regularly while writing the screenplay.[13] In the film, psychotic criminal Frank Booth is infatuated with the song. His slave-lover, Dorothy Vallens (played by Isabella Rossellini) performs the song at a seedy nightclub, which Booth enjoys attending. A fragment of dialogue in the film revolves around the song. In it, Booth asks Vallens on the telephone why she performs the song every night, to which she replies, "Why? But, I love Blue Velvet." Frank uses a strip of the fabric as a fetish object, holding it while watching Dorothy sing, and using it during his sadomasochistic episodes with her.

Lana Del Rey cover[edit]

"Blue Velvet"
Single by Lana Del Rey
from the album Paradise
Released September 20, 2012 (2012-09-20)
Format Digital download
Length 2:36
Label Interscope
Writer(s)
  • Bernie Wayne
  • Lee Morris
Producer(s) Emile Haynie
Lana Del Rey singles chronology
"National Anthem"
(2012)
"Blue Velvet"
(2013)
"Ride"
(2013)
Audio sample
file info · help

American recording artist Lana Del Rey released a cover of the song "Blue Velvet" in 2012. It was taken from reissue of her second studio album Born to Die - The Paradise Edition and her third EP, Paradise. It was released as a single on September 20, 2012, through Interscope Records, and used in an advertising campaign for the clothing retailer H&M.

Background[edit]

Del Rey had recorded a cover of "Blue Velvet" for her 2012 H&M Autumn campaign.[14][15] On September 20, the song was released as a single.[16] Del Rey was selected for the H&M ad campaign after an impressionable performance at a Mulberry dinner party. Industry moguls Michelle Williams, Alexa Chung, Elizabeth Olsen, and Anna Wintour attended the party and were impressed by the performance. A public relations manager for H&M said Del Rey was chosen because they "were looking for a style icon and singer to model our fall collection and so Lana Del Rey was the perfect choice".[17][18][19]

Music video[edit]

On September 19, the music video, which serves as a commercial for the H&M 2012 Autumn Collection as well, for "Blue Velvet" was released through H&M.[20] In the video, Del Rey is singing the song in a low-lit room before an audience of pallid people, playing an Americana lounge singer dressed in a pink mohair sweater,[21] She is then hypnotized.[2] Three women dressed identically to Del Rey sit on a couch and watch her coldly.[22] At the end, a little man walks into the room, pulls out the plug for Del Rey's microphone, silencing her.[2] Compared to the David Lynch film of the same name,[23] it was directed by Johan Renck.[23] and composed in post-World War II Americana fashion and the notion of external beauty cloaking inner vulnerability.[24] A behind the scenes video was filmed and posted to H&M's official YouTube station.[25]

Critical reception[edit]

Rolling Stone called Del Rey's cover "doleful".[2] Carl Williot of Idolator dubbed Del Rey's cover, "beautifully languorous and dreary (though [it] is replete with her go-to swell of strings and grainy programmed beats).[24] Jenna Hally Rubenstein, writing for MTV, called the commercial and vocals, "moody, totally broody", playfully adding, "what would a Lana Del Rey campaign be if it didn't make you feel a tad depressed?" In the video, Rubenstein said Del Rey was a "ridiculous beauty" sporting a Brigitte Bardot–inspired look, which she added, not every singer can pull off.[22] People said the video was dramatic, intriguing, unique, and played off the moody, vintage Hollywood image of the retro-inspired starlet. Appropriately, they wrote, the video had film noir elements.[26] Specifically, it was compared to the neo-noir film, Mulholland Drive as well as the film Blue Velvet itself.[27] In an interview with Artinfo, David Lynch spoke out about Del Rey's cover:[27][28]

Track listing[edit]

"Digital download"[29]
  1. "Blue Velvet" – 2:36

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Paradise.[30]

Performance
Instruments
  • The Larry Gold Orchestra – strings
Technical and production
  • Ben Baptie – mixing assistant
  • Spencer Burgess Jr. – assistant recording engineer
  • John Davis – mastering
  • Tom Elmhirst – mixing
  • Larry Gold – string arrangements
  • Emile Haynie – production

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[31] 40
France (SNEP)[32] 40
Germany (Official German Charts)[33] 49
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[34] 44
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[35] 42
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[36] 60

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
France[37] September 20, 2012 Digital download Universal Music Group
Germany[38]
United Kingdom[39] Polydor Records
United States[40] September 25, 2012 Interscope Records
Canada[41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "iTunes - Music - Blue Velvet - The Clovers". iTunes. Apple Inc. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Nika, Colleen. "Lana Del Rey Debuts Lynchian H&M Commercial". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Herbert, Paul N (2012). The Jefferson Hotel: the history of a Richmond landmark (1st US ed.). Charleston SC: The History Press. p. 126. ISBN 978-1-60949-687-6. 
  4. ^ Bennett, Tony (1998). The Good Life: the autobiography of Tony Bennett. New York: Simon & Shuster. ISBN 978-1-4165-7366-1. 
  5. ^ Meunier, Michael. Ray Mason: Baritone From Brockton. 
  6. ^ a b c "Lana Del Rey's Cover of Blue Velvet Streaming Online (Recap)". antiMUSIC. Iconoclast Entertainment Group. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Record of the Week - "Blue Velvet" by The Clovers". The Vocal Group Harmony. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  8. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 250. 
  9. ^ "Blue Velvet by Bobby Vinton". SongFacts.com.com. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  10. ^ Pelly, Jenny. "Watch: Lana Del Rey Covers "Blue Velvet" in New David Lynch-Inspired H&M Commercial". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  11. ^ Borden, Lizzie (September 23, 1986). "The World According to Lynch". Village Voice. 
  12. ^ Mysteries of Love: The Making of Blue Velvet, Blue Velvet Special Edition DVD documentary, [2002]
  13. ^ Blue Velvet film score at The City of Absurity; Retrieved June 24, 2007
  14. ^ Alexander, Ella (July 17, 2012). "H&M Confirms Lana". Vogue UK (Condé Nast Publications). Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  15. ^ London, Bianca (July 17, 2012). "Lana del Rey for H&M: Singer announced as the new face of the high street brand". Daily Mail (Associated Newspapers). Retrieved September 19, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Lana Del Rey: Blue Velvet". Amazon.com. September 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2012. [dead link]
  17. ^ Lee, Anne. "Lana Del Rey treats fashion crowd to Blue Velvet at H&M launch party". Metro. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  18. ^ Thornhill, Cher (19 September 2012). "Lana Del Rey 'Blue Velvet' cover featured in H&M ad now available online". Daily Mail (London: Associated Newspapers). Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  19. ^ Nissim, Mayer. "Lana Del Rey unveils full 'Blue Velvet' advert video - watch". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "Lana Del Rey - Blue Velvet". H&M (YouTube). September 19, 2012. Retrieved September 20, 2012. 
  21. ^ Hogan, Marc. "Watch Lana Del Rey Sing 'Blue Velvet' in Mohair for H&M". Spin. Buzz Media. Retrieved 3 October 2012. 
  22. ^ a b Rubenstein, Jenna Hally. "Watch Lana Del Rey Cover 'Blue Velvet' For H&M (VIDEO)". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  23. ^ a b Snead, Elizabeth (September 17, 2012). "Lana Del Rey Stars in David Lynch-Inspired 'Blue Velvet' H&M Commercial (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved September 20, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b Williot, Carl. "Lana Del Rey’s Dreary "Blue Velvet" Cover: Hear It In Full". Idolator. Buzz Media. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  25. ^ Cowels, Charlotte. "Lana Del Rey’s H&M Commercial Includes a Little Person, Wigs, Telephones". New York. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  26. ^ Cress, Jennifer. "Exclusive Video: Behind the Scenes of Lana Del Rey’s H&M Campaign". People. Time Inc. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  27. ^ a b c Freeman, Nate. "Lana Del Rey to Channel David Lynch’s "Blue Velvet" as the Face of H&M's New Global Campaign". Artinfo. Louise Blouin Media. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  28. ^ a b "Watch Lana Del Rey cover 'Blue Velvet' for H&M commercial". NME. Time Inc. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  29. ^ "iTunes – Music – Blue Velvet – Single by Lana Del Rey". United Kingdom: iTunes Store. Archived from the original on September 23, 2012. 
  30. ^ Paradise (Booklet). Lana Del Rey. Polydor Records. 2012. 
  31. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Lana Del Rey – Blue Velvet" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  32. ^ "Lescharts.com – Lana Del Rey – Blue Velvet" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  33. ^ "Musicline.de – Lana Del Rey Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  34. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Lana Del Rey – Blue Velvet" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  35. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Lana Del Rey – Blue Velvet". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  36. ^ "Archive Chart: 2012-09-09" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
  37. ^ "Blue Velvet: Lana Del Rey: Amazon.fr" (in French). Amazon.com. Archived from the original on February 15, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Blue Velvet: Lana Del Rey: Amazon.de" (in German). Amazon.com. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. 
  39. ^ "Blue Velvet: Lana Del Rey: Amazon.co.uk". Amazon.com. Archived from the original on December 6, 2013. 
  40. ^ "Blue Velvet (2012) | Lana Del Rey". United States: 7digital. Retrieved December 16, 2014. 
  41. ^ "Blue Velvet (2012) | Lana Del Rey". Canada: 7digital. Retrieved December 16, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"My Boyfriend's Back" by The Angels
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
September 21, 1963 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer & the Fireballs
Preceded by
"Blowin' in the Wind" by Peter, Paul and Mary
"Billboard" Easy Listening number-one single by
Bobby Vinton

September 7, 1963
(eight weeks)
Succeeded by
"Washington Square" by The Village Stompers