China in Your Hand

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"China in Your Hand"
Single by T'Pau
from the album Bridge of Spies
B-side "No Sense of Pride"
Released October 1987 (1987-10)
Format 7", 12"
Genre Pop
Length 4:07
Label Siren, Virgin
Writer(s) Carol Decker, Ron Rogers
Producer(s) Ron Rogers, Tim Burgess (single version)
Roy Thomas Baker (12"/album version)
T'Pau singles chronology
"Heart and Soul" (reissue)
"China in Your Hand"
"Bridge of Spies"

"China in Your Hand" is a song by the British band T'Pau, released from their album Bridge of Spies. A re-recorded version was released as a single in October 1987, spending five weeks at number one in the UK and is arguably the song for which the group is best known in their native Britain, though their debut single "Heart and Soul" was a much bigger hit in the United States. "China in Your Hand" was the 600th song to top the UK charts and kept George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set on You" from hitting the top spot. In 2015 the song was voted by the British public as the nation's 11th favourite 1980s number one in a poll for ITV.[1]


The song's lyrics refer to the novel Frankenstein and its author Mary Shelley. This is more readily heard on the longer album version of the song, as the re-recorded single edit omits most of the more obvious references to the book. The song's title was more unclear however and when quizzed, co-writer Ron Rogers was unsure of to what it referred. Lyric writer Carol Decker explained that it is the effect that if you hold a china cup to a light, you can see your hand through it – therefore 'china in your hand' means something that is transparent.[2] In a segment on the BBC1's The One Show on 6 March 2014, Carol Decker explained that she had been holding a china tea cup belonging to Ronnie Roger's mother in her hand while washing up and had felt a lump in the bottom. She held the cup to the light and saw an image of a young woman in the base of the cup. Decker had the cup with her and showed the viewers the image. Sadly Ronnie's mother died of breast cancer just before T'Pau achieved major chart success.

The song is in the key of B-Flat major on the original album version but the radio edit version is slightly sped up to reduce its length resulting in the tuning being mid-way between B-Flat and B Major.

Other versions[edit]

In 2011, contestant Amelia Lily performed the song on series 8 of UK's The X Factor. Judge Gary Barlow said it was "nice to hear the song being sung in tune for once", in mockery of Decker, who reacted to the comment via Twitter.[3]

British EDM artist Jimmy Rotten used a sample of the song's intro in his track "Join Hands".

Track listing[edit]

7" vinyl
Side one

  1. "China in Your Hand" (Carol Decker, Ron Rogers) – 4:07 (Sax solo by Gary Barnacle)(Guitarist Dean Howard)

Side two

  1. "No Sense of Pride" (T'Pau) – 3:25

12" vinyl
Side one

  1. "China in Your Hand" (Full Length Album Version) (5:06)

Side two

  1. "China in Your Hand" (Single Version) – 4:07
  2. "No Sense of Pride" – 3:25

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1987/1988) Peak
Austrian Singles Chart[4] 5
Belgian Singles Chart 1
Canadian Singles Chart[5] 20
Dutch Singles Chart[6] 1
French Singles Chart[7] 44
West German Singles Chart[8] 2
Irish Singles Chart[9] 1
New Zealand Singles Chart[10] 8
Norwegian Singles Chart[11] 1
Polish Singles Chart 8
South African Singles Chart[12] 12
Swedish Singles Chart[13] 5
Swiss Singles Chart[14] 1
UK Singles Chart[15] 1

See also[edit]

Preceded by
"You Win Again" by Bee Gees
UK number-one single
8 November 1987 – 12 December 1987
Succeeded by
"Always on My Mind" by Pet Shop Boys
Preceded by
"Got My Mind Set on You" by George Harrison
Irish IRMA number-one single
21 November 1987 – 28 November 1987
Succeeded by
"The Way You Make Me Feel" by Michael Jackson


  1. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (25 July 2015). "The Nation’s Favourite 80s Number One: 12 more classic 80s chart-toppers which didn’t make the cut". Metro. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  2. ^ Top 10 of 1987, Channel 4 documentary
  3. ^ "T'Pau's Carol Decker calls Gary Barlow a t**t over 'X Factor' comments – X Factor News – TV – Digital Spy". 26 November 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  4. ^ Steffen Hung. "Austria Top 40 – Hitparade Österreich". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  5. ^ "Welcome to the Library and Archives Canada website". 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  6. ^ Steffen Hung (31 December 2011). "Dutch charts portal". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  7. ^ Steffen Hung. "Les charts français". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  8. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  9. ^ Jaclyn Ward – Fireball Media Ltd. – (1 October 1962). "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  10. ^ Steffen Hung (2014-03-24). "New Zealand charts portal". Retrieved 2014-03-30. 
  11. ^ Steffen Hung (15 June 2006). "Norwegian charts portal". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  12. ^ Brian Currin & Stephen Segerman. "The South African Rock Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  13. ^ Steffen Hung (30 December 2011). "Swedish Charts Portal". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  14. ^ Steffen Hung. "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  15. ^ "UK Singles & Albums Chart Archive". Chart Stats. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 

External links[edit]