Breaking Up the Girl

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"Breaking Up the Girl"
Garbage - Breaking Up the Girl.png
Single by Garbage
from the album Beautiful Garbage
  • "Candy Says"
  • "Happiness Pt.2"
  • "Confidence"
ReleasedDecember 8, 2001
Format12", CD single, CD maxi
RecordedApril 2000–May 2001,
Smart Studios,
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
LabelMushroom Records UK
Interscope (North America)
Garbage singles chronology
"Cherry Lips"
"Breaking Up the Girl"
"Shut Your Mouth"
Alternate covers
CD2 single cover
CD2 single cover
Alternative cover
CD3 single cover
CD3 single cover
Music video
"Breaking Up The Girl" on YouTube

"Breaking Up the Girl" is a 2001 alternative rock song written, recorded and produced by Garbage for their third studio album Beautiful Garbage.

In North America, "Breaking Up the Girl" was serviced to alternative radio as the second single to be lifted from the album.[1] The single release coincided with Rolling Stone publishing their critics' Albums of the Year list, on which Beautiful Garbage was ranked the sixth best release of 2001.[1] "Breaking Up the Girl" was licensed out as the theme tune to Is It College Yet?, the final episode of the long-running animated series Daria, which premiered on MTV as a TV movie in January 2002.[1]

"Breaking Up the Girl" was subsequently released internationally in April 2002, where it supported the band's UK and European tour. The single reached the top forty in both Australia[2] and United Kingdom.[3]

Song profile[edit]

"Breaking Up the Girl" was written and recorded by Garbage between April 2000 and May 2001 at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin during the year-long writing sessions for Beautiful Garbage.[4] At some point in this period of time, Shirley Manson had overheard the rest of the band working on the body of the song, and was inspired to write the melody and lyrics.[5] During the development of the song, Garbage experimented with Beatles-like harmonies and ad-libs over the coda.[6] and layered a vocal from Manson onto a matching guitar part.[7] "We sampled her going 'aah' and Duke played guitar," Butch Vig explained,"and that made it sound like a weird little melodic quote, not necessarily a vocal part".[7] Although it was one of the album's straightforward rock songs, Garbage couldn't agree on the bass/kickdrum pattern in the chorus, trying various transmutations of a one-bar phrase. Using his Fender Precision Bass and pick, session musician Daniel Shulman created a McCartney-esque bass movement for the verse.[8] Vig felt that the strumming of the guitar chords gave the song a Big Star feel.[5]

A decade earlier, when her Scottish band Angelfish were struggling, Manson had lived in South Queensferry where her friends included Andrew Greig, the poet Iain Banks, Duncan McLean and Alan Warner. At the time she felt washed up, and became reclusive with depression."It was Andrew who came by every morning and knocked on my door. He forced me out of bed and dragged me along the beach. He'd say "If you just keep going along the beach you'll get back on track", Manson later recalled. "He kept me moving. And I did get back on track. Very shortly after that, I got the call to go and join Garbage".[9] Manson credited Greig with saving her career, a debt she tacitly acknowledged by quoting the line "I'm afraid there is much to be afraid of" from his 1994 long poem Western Swing.[9] Lyrically Manson felt that "Breaking Up the Girl" was "a cautionary tale. It's basically saying the world we're living in is harsh and you've got to live in the moment. Focus on the now. If there's something in your life that isn't good then get rid of them."[10] Duke Erikson expanded, "the light, poppy, melodic feel to the song belies the seriousness of the lyrics".[5]

Single release[edit]

Interscope Records released "Breaking Up The Girl" as the second North American single from Beautiful Garbage, to Modern Rock and Triple A radio formats in November 2001.[1] Garbage were booked on the support slot on U2's Elevation Tour throughout the Fall;[11] the band then spent December promoting the Beautiful Garbage album in the United States, recording a VH1 Behind The Music special (for broadcast after the new year) and performing "Breaking Up the Girl" on The Tonight Show on December 12.[1] After the Daria premiere, Interscope re-serviced "Breaking Up the Girl" to radio in February 2002[12] where it peaked at #18 on the Triple A chart.[13]

The UK release of "Breaking Up the Girl" was scheduled to follow the band's concert tour in April 2002. The band performed the song on cd:uk prior to the commencement of the live dates, which ran for eight consecutive nights. On April 8, Mushroom Records issued the single as a 3×CD single set backed with three b-sides: "Confidence", an out-take from Beautiful Garbage and featured drums performed by Matt Chamberlain;[14] "Happiness Pt.2", a discarded demo reworked by Butch Vig while he was recovering from a Hepatitis infection the previous year;[15] and a cover version of Velvet Underground's "Candy Says", featuring a bass guitar part by the band's engineer Billy Bush and recorded during tour rehearsals. The three tracks were spread out over the three discs, as were an acoustic version[16] and a QuickTime music video of the title track,[17] and two remixes of "Breaking Up the Girl" produced by Brothers In Rhythm[17] and Timo Maas;[18] and a version of "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)" by Eli Janney.[16] The single peaked at #27 on the UK Singles Chart.[3] The following week, Pepsi Chart Show broadcast a live recording of Garbage performing "Breaking Up the Girl" on-stage at the Brixton Academy during the tour, while Top of the Pops broadcast a performance of the single pre-recorded by the band the previous November.[19]

In Europe, PIAS Recordings issued "Breaking Up the Girl" across the continent as a five track enhanced CD maxi collecting together both remixes, "Use Me" (an album out-take released earlier in the United Kingdom and Australia on the b-side of "Cherry Lips") and an enhanced music video section;[20] as a two-track CD single backed with a radio edit of the Timo Maas remix;[21] and an exclusive 12" vinyl format of multiple remixes.[22] Garbage returned to tour European rock festivals in June 2002 (follow-up single "Shut Your Mouth" was released to support these dates).[23] Prior to these shows, Garbage performed a special concert for Los 40 Principales and completed a mini-tour of Spain sponsored by telecom company Movistar in Salamanca, Madrid, Bilbao and Barcelona.[24] During this time, "Breaking Up the Girl" reached #33 on the Spanish airplay chart.[25]

Following up Garbage's first Australian top ten hit ("Cherry Lips"),[26] FMR scheduled the release of "Breaking Up the Girl" to begin low-key, with the remixes impacting clubs from March 1, 2002, eight weeks in advance of the single's street date.[27] The song was serviced to Australian radio stations and the music video to television networks on March 25.[27] FMR issued "Breaking Up the Girl" to stores on April 29.[28] The single was issued as 2×CD single set, backed with "Candy Says", "Confidence" and Eli Janney's remix of "Cherry Lips" on the first disc,[29] and the acoustic version, Brothers in Rhythm and Timo Maas mixes on a limited edition second disc.[30] At the start of May, "Breaking Up the Girl" debuted on the ARIA Charts at #19,[31] the band's second single to reach the top twenty in Australia.[2] The single also debuted at #2 on the ARIA Alternative chart.[2] FMR launched a television ad campaign during May, with heavy emphasis on "Breaking Up the Girl";[32] Beautiful Garbage recharted and reclimbed the album charts chart to #27.[33] At the end of June, "Breaking Up the Girl" eventually bowed out of the Top 100 at #96 after an eight-week run.[34] In New Zealand, Beautiful Garbage rebounded on the RIANZ album chart during April, reaching #16.[35]"Breaking Up the Girl" did not make the RIANZ singles chart.[36]

Garbage began a two-month North American tour in mid-April, which was routed into the SoCal area and into Mexico by June;[37] at that time "Breaking Up the Girl" went into heavy rotation on MTV en Español.[38] Garbage's tour ended at the start of June with a concert at Mexico City's National Auditorium;[39] "Breaking Up the Girl" was subsequently released in Mexico through Universal as a five-track CD maxi.[40]

Commercial track listings[edit]

Music video[edit]

Garbage perform in the main "Breaking Up the Girl" clip.

The promotional video for "Breaking Up the Girl" was directed by Francis Lawrence and shot over December 5/6, 2001 in Los Angeles.[41]

Two version of the video were made. The first version released contained footage lifted from the Daria series mixed with montage footage of Garbage performing and shots of the band filming the video. The video was premiered on January 21, 2002 on MTV during the intermission to the first showing of the Daria movie Is It College Yet?.[42] MTV Europe playlisted the video at the end of March.[43]

The second released version, which became the main edit of the video, which was broadcast worldwide from February 2002.[44] The video began with a CGI shot of a shattered rose, which disintegrated as the band appear. While Manson features heavily during the verses, the band perform together during the choruses. For the latter part of the video, all of the montage shots of Garbage disintegrate like the rose at the beginning, and the video ends with the rose reforming. The pace of the video is kept up using aggressive editing and cutting between shots filmed with zoom and fisheye lenses.

The international edit of the "Breaking Up the Girl" music video was first made commercially available in QuickTime format on the CD-ROM enhanced section of the "Breaking Up the Girl" singles.[45] The video, like the song, did not appear on 2007's Absolute Garbage.[46]

Alternate versions and remixes[edit]

Track title Length Remixer/producer
"Breaking Up the Girl (Acoustic version)" 3:20 Garbage
"Breaking Up the Girl (Brothers In Rhythm Therapy mix)" 10:44 Steve Anderson and David Seaman
"Breaking Up the Girl (Brothers In Rhythm Therapy mix (radio edit))" 3:52
"Breaking Up the Girl (Brothers In Rhythm Therapy dub)" 8:03
"Breaking Up the Girl (Ripped Out Fireplace mix)" 5:14 Black Dog
"Breaking Up the Girl (Spitsville remix)" 6:12
"Breaking Up the Girl (Wounded by the Warbeast mix)" 4:51
"Breaking Up the Girl (Rodeo Rave remix)" 4:39 Jimmy Cauty
"Breaking Up the Girl (Timo Maas remix)" 6:42 Timo Maas
"Breaking Up the Girl (Timo Maas radio edit)" 3:33
"Breaking Up the Girl (Timo Maas dub)" 6:42

The CD format of Beautiful Garbage contained an enhanced element where users could remix four tracks from the album, of which "Breaking Up the Girl" was one of. Created in conjunction with Sonic Foundry, using a customized version of their drag-and-drop ACID Pro music sequencer software, the remixes utilized samples and loops cut direct from the album masters.[47] The enhanced section could be accessed when the user was online; a simplified version of the software featuring only "Androgyny" loops was accessible when the user was offline.[48]

In 2007, the Timo Maas remix of "Breaking Up the Girl" was remastered, edited and included on the Absolute Garbage greatest hits album bonus disc Garbage Mixes.[46] Four rejected mixes by Jimmy Caulty and Black Dog Productions surfaced in May 2011.[49]

Critical reception[edit]

"Breaking Up the Girl" received a mixed response from contemporary music journalists. Paul Elliot of Q, who had the chance to listen to the track as soon as it was mixed, described the song as being "redolent of vintage Blondie".[50] Jerry Ewing of Classic Rock wrote that the song was "wonderful, guitar-based rock, with a magic sprinkling of melody"[51] "This serene delight showcases Garbage's softer side," wrote Sunday Mail's Billy Sloan, "Its soft sound contrasts against the spurned vocals; a testament to the chameleon-like style that is the glory of Garbage"[52] A reviewer for Smash Hits! wrote, "[It's] not as instantly memorable as ["Cherry Lips"]... this radio-friendly rock-tinged pop will have your toes tapping away to the beat in no time". Chuck Taylor of Billboard compared the song to Republica's "Ready to Go" writing "this track conjures up images... of Manson frolicking in a daisy patch. It's all back to Earth with the lyric, which pretty much calls the subject to a loser for hurting a girl. You've been warned, now just enjoy the pace."[12] Jason Arnopp of Kerrang! described "Breaking Up the Girl" as "[It] glides along sultry, sad and dreamy, driven by a practically recognisable acoustic guitar."[5]

Release history[edit]

Release Date Territory Record Label Format(s)
December 8, 2001 United States Interscope Modern rock, Active rock & AAA
February 2002 Mainstream Top 40 & Adult Top 40
March 25, 2002 Australia FMR Airplay
April 8, 2002 Europe PIAS Recordings 12" vinyl, CD maxi, CD single
United Kingdom Mushroom Records UK 3×CD single set
April 29, 2002 Australia FMR 2×CD single set
June 2002 Mexico Universal CD maxi

Comprehensive charts[edit]

Chart (2002) Peak
Australia Singles (ARIA)[2] 19
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[53] 26
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[3] 27
US Triple-A chart (Billboard)[13] 12


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External links[edit]