Buck Rogers (song)
|Single by Feeder|
|from the album Echo Park|
|Released||8 January 2001|
|Recorded||Great Lindford Manor Studios|
|Feeder singles chronology|
"Buck Rogers" is the eleventh single by Feeder. It was the first single to be taken from the Echo Park album and was released on The Echo Label. The track reached number 5 in the UK Singles Chart after its release on 8 January 2001. The group had originally not intended the track to be one of theirs, as frontman and main songwriter of the band Grant Nicholas, originally wrote "Buck Rogers" for SR-71, only for producer Gil Norton and A&R staff of Echo to convince the band they could have a hit with it themselves, after hearing a demo recorded by Feeder. It continues to be played on UK alternative radio stations as a classic hit of its genre during the early 2000s.
The song title was inspired by the television show of the same name as Nicholas wanted to create a futuristic sound. Critical reaction was largely positive with the song being named one of Kerrang! magazine's "666 Songs You Must Own" in November 2004, and appearing on various other lists, despite NME giving a heavy negative reaction, claiming that the single would be "Lucky to reach the top 30". The music video for "Buck Rogers" was directed by Markus Walter and features footage of the group performing the song inside an elephant named "Daisy", situated in an underground car park.
The song was written by frontman Grant Nicholas for their third album Echo Park. During the year the band played festivals in the UK which previewed the material they were working on at the time, and would then play a series of small venues near the end of the year. Amongst the new songs they played, was their then forthcoming new single "Buck Rogers".
The song is about a relationship ending, in which the character in the song meets a person named "Buck Rogers" who owns a "brand new car" that "looks like a Jaguar". His partner leaves him for the "Buck Rogers" character, which leads him to say "but I don't want to talk about it anymore", before looking on a positive side saying that he thinks he's going to make it through if he buys "a house in Devon", and starts "all over again" with her. The character then reunites with his friends to "drink cider from a melon". Grant has said that the song employs an element of humour upon closer scrutiny.
The track's name came about when Grant was playing on a keyboard and invented a piece of music he said was "futuristic", and asked his engineer Matt Sime what to call the piece. They both thought "Buck Rogers" would sound appropriate for a working title which then stuck. The recorded demo was originally for SR-71, but was convinced by producer Gil Norton not to part with the song as he believed the band could have a hit with it.
The first ever live performance of "Buck Rogers" at Glastonbury in 2000 featured the lyrics "Driving wheel to stone" instead of "Looks like a Jaguar", the song has been played at every gig on tour, one-off gigs and festivals, until the May 2008 tour, which saw the song dropped from setlists (excluding TV appearances and a gig supporting Coldplay), for the first time in its history. Since then the song has made a comeback into the bands sets. It also appeared in the video game Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, the DVD and VHS versions of the 2003 Human Bodyboarding Teahupo'o Challenge, as well as the high-impact Top Gun style opening sequence of 2001 film Behind Enemy Lines.
The video starts with the band walking out from a spaceship, which is disguised as an elephant. During the first chorus after they walk out they are holding various fast food items, while looking around the velodome looking complex, wondering where they have landed. After the chorus, shots of the band standing still in mid-air positions are shown, and then the band mostly performing the song in fast motion with occasional freeze-frame shots added in.
Before the last chorus, the band make their way back inside the elephant spaceship and look surprised as the inside is bigger than it looks on the outside. Here the band perform the last verse playing on instruments already inside the elephant, while the camera pans round the band before the screen turns black as the song ends at the same time.
On the day of single release, the band performed an in-store at the now closed London branch of Tower Records. Due to the single selling strongly during the course of the week, the band were invited onto The Pepsi Chart Show on Channel 5, and BBC One's Top of the Pops. The band were forced to cancel two signings as a result of this.
"Buck Rogers" entered the charts at #5 in the United Kingdom, it went on to spend a second week in the top 10 at #8.
In South Africa, the track was very well received by radio DJs by reaching #1 on the 5FM top 40. Later in the year the band were invited by the radio station as a headline act for their 26th birthday celebrations concert, due to the success the band had with them at the time.
After the top 5 success of the single, Grant was asked in an April 2001 edition of a Feederweb fanzine if he felt under pressure to deliver another radio-friendly song, in reply he said:
"Not really, I think with the radio thing you have to be really careful; at the end of the day Feeder's not a typical daytime radio band, but what we've done is that we've proved that a guitar band – a British guitar band, and a band that doesn't have the profile of U2 or someone can still get into the top ten. It is possible!, it just seems to be that it's always the big American bands who sort of dominate the top ten; a Limp Bizkit or whatever, but saying that I think the whole Travis and Coldplay thing has been really good as sort of a stepping stone, and also I think people are getting fed up of just seeing Westlife or Steps on the TV. I think people are finding rock, and real bands again – I think that the market is currently so bombarded with pop stuff that we're just quite refreshing. Rock never went away, but it never really got the exposure. Hopefully it'll get "Seven Days in the Sun" away..."
Grant said in a 2005 Q magazine interview that he did not want to be remembered for it, as he said it is "a throwaway pop song" and he is more of a dark songwriter. However, he said if it was not for the song, Feeder would not be here today.
All-time list appearances
"Buck Rogers" has made numerous appearances in the all-time lists conducted by Kerrang! magazine, and the now defunct radio station XFM. The track charted at #37 in a December 2002 readers poll conducted by Kerrang!. This was later followed-up by four successive appearances in the annual XFM X-List, with a #25 peak in 2004. Kerrang!'s writers have also approved of the track as one of the 666 Songs You Must Own, when it appeared at #5 in the rock songs list in November 2004. In May 2009, listeners of XFM were invited to vote for their top 10 fave British singles of all-time; their top song would get 10 points, while their 10th song would get just the one with all the points added up to compile the order. "Buck Rogers" ended up at #86 in their all-time top 100 list with "Just a Day" at #81. "Buck Rogers" also features in the book The Xfm Top 1000 Songs of All Time.
After "Buck Rogers"
Feeder continued to have chart success after "Buck Rogers", despite many critics labelling the band as One-hit wonders. Drummer Jon Lee however died in January 2002 after taking his own life, before the band made their return to the live stage in August later that year, with the highlight being a well-received set on the second stage of the Reading Festival. Comfort in Sound became a big success in their homeland and was recorded with Mark Richardson on drums. It propelled Feeder to a brief arena status which ended after Silent Cry fell behind sales expectations, but last played arenas in 2006, two years before the album was released.
After releasing three more top 10 albums from Comfort in Sound onwards, which included a singles album, Mark parted company to return to a reformed Skunk Anansie, before Karl Brazil joined the band as an unofficial member. He was later joined by Damon Wilson and Tim Trotter as additional session drummers. Karl is however the only drummer in the current line-up to have recorded with the band. Feeder's chart success has however not been on the same level as in the past, but have since charted three more top 20 albums, allowing them to chart in that section of the album chart, for three consecutive decades, only for 2016's All Bright Electric see the band make a top 10 return.
The Echo Label, who released "Buck Rogers", folded as a record label in 2008, leading to Feeder to search for a new deal. Although there were deals on the table, Feeder decided to create their own label Big Teeth Music in 2010, releasing two albums on the label before signing with Cooking Vinyl in 2016. In 2011, Matt Sime briefly retired from the music business only to work with the band again soon after.
- "Buck Rogers" – 3:13
- "Purple" – 4:05
- "Heads" – 3:06
- "Buck Rogers" – 3:13
- "We the Electronic" – 4:00
- "21st Century Meltdown" – 3:07
- "Buck Rogers" (video)
- "Buck Rogers" – 3:13
- "Sex Type Drug" – 3:16
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