Chinese Democracy (song)
|Single by Guns N' Roses|
|from the album Chinese Democracy|
|Released||October 22, 2008|
|Format||Digital download, CD single|
|Genre||Hard rock, industrial rock, heavy metal|
|Writer(s)||Axl Rose, Josh Freese, Eric Caudieux, Caram Castanzo, Robin Finck, Dizzy Reed, Tommy Stinson, Paul Tobias|
|Producer(s)||Axl Rose, Caram Costanzo|
|Guns N' Roses singles chronology|
"Chinese Democracy" is a song by the American rock band Guns N' Roses, and the title track from their sixth studio album of the same name. The song was released as the band's twenty-first radio single on October 22, 2008 and was released on the iTunes Store on November 9, 2008. It was primarily written by Axl Rose and Josh Freese. It was the band's first single of original material released since "Estranged".
|“||The movie Kundun was on [television] about the Dalai Lama. I was getting ready to leave...and it was the end of the movie. And the Dalai Lama is about to cross over the border, to you know, be in exile for the rest of his life from his own country. And he looks back at the men who helped him, and you know he's escaped the Chinese government. And he looks back at them and he waves and they wave at him. And then they show a scene where he looks back at them again and he sees every one of them dead. Because he knew they would be killed, and they knew that in helping him they would be killed. And you know the emotion in this next song, that's all that's about. It's not like an intelligent song. It doesn't have the answer to anything. And it's not necessarily pro or con about China. It's just that right now China symbolizes one of the strongest, yet most oppressive countries and governments in the world. And we [Americans] are fortunate to live in a free country. And so in thinking about that it just kinda upset me, and we wrote this little song called "Chinese Democracy."||”|
"Chinese Democracy" has been played live at most Guns N' Roses shows since the first Chinese Democracy Tour in 2001. With each tour, the performances drastically changed, gaining more background structure and guitar parts, along with a second solo akin to the album version. During the 2009/2010 tour, the song was used exclusively as the show opener. The song continues to be played even after the pre-Chinese Democracy members, Slash and Duff McKagan, have rejoined.
The song has received a mostly positive reception from critics. It was played over 4 million times on Myspace in one day. Spin Magazine noted that with "a thick, muscular four-chord riff and that Axl banshee wail, only the most stubbornly jaded will manage to suppress the goosebump reflex", but criticized it for being "hook-free".
The Los Angeles Times, on the other hand, described Axl as "the most ambitious hard rocker of the late 20th century" and though also noting that "the chorus is just an extension of the verses" and that the song therefore "doesn't behave the way radio-friendly singles usually do", still stated that "the refrain sticks after several listens". Ultimately, the Los Angeles Times concluded that the song "brings back a passionate weirdness that the hard rock airwaves have lacked", also comparing it to David Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans", noting that "Both songs have a suffocated quality, as if their makers are pushing through smoke to express these thoughts. It's the sound of florid, romantic rockers aiming for something cold and modern".
Popwatch noted that not "even the greatest GNR song ever conceived could possibly be worth so sustained a buildup" and echoed the sentiment that the chorus of the song "feels like the buildup to a great refrain, but turns out to really be the refrain", while MenStyle.com suggested that, judging amongst the leaked songs, "Chinese Democracy" was a curious choice for lead single, suggesting that "Madagascar" or "There Was a Time" would have been superior. A review on the site Zimbio argued that "no matter how I wanted to hate this song, I can't", describing the tune as "better than some songs on Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II" and declared that "if you can put your bias aside, you will find this song isn't bad" and that "it does make me excited to hear the rest of the album".
The then former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash reacted positively to the song upon release, saying "That sounds cool. It's good to hear [Axl Rose's] voice again, y'know".
In the U.S. "Chinese Democracy" debuted at #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 based on downloads, becoming the band's highest charting single since 1992's "November Rain". It also did very well on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks peaking at #5. In Canada it debuted at #83 on the Canadian Hot 100 on the issue of November 8, and on the issue of November 22 it then skyrocketed from #60 to #10 the next week based on sales strength. In Ireland, the song peaked at number 3. In the UK it entered at number 27.
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||34|
|U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks||5|
|U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks||24|
|Australian Singles Chart||10|
|Canadian Hot 100||10|
|Finnish Singles Chart||3|
|Greek Singles Chart||6|
|Irish Singles Chart||3|
|Italian Singles Chart||7|
|Norwegian Singles Chart||1|
|Swedish Singles Chart||2|
|UK Singles Chart||27|
Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.
- Guns N' Roses
- Axl Rose - lead vocals, keyboards
- Paul Tobias- rhythm guitar
- Robin Finck - lead guitar, rhythm guitar
- Buckethead - lead guitar, rhythm guitar
- Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal - rhythm guitar
- Richard Fortus - rhythm guitar
- Tommy Stinson - bass, backing vocals
- Frank Ferrer - drums
- Dizzy Reed - keyboards, backing vocals
- Chris Pitman - sub bass, keyboards, backing vocals
- Additional credits
- Guitar solos - Robin Finck, Buckethead
- Intro - Eric Caudieux, Caram Costanzo
- Arrangement - Axl Rose, Paul Tobias, Sean Beavan
- Digital editing - Eric Caudieux, Caram Costanzo, Axl Rose, Sean Beavan
- Additional guitar processing - Chris Pitman
- Guns N’ Roses Officially Announce “Chinese Democracy”: Pre-Orders Start Today
- Image of CD single
- "Meaning Behind Songs". Guns N' Roses - N.I.R. Archived from the original on August 31, 2003.
- "Guns N’ Roses Setlist April 1 2016". last.fm. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
- "First Listen: New Guns N' Roses Single Reviewed | Spin Magazine Online". Spin.com. Retrieved 2010-04-29.
- "Snap judgment: Guns N' Roses' 'Chinese Democracy' (single)". Los Angeles Times. 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2010-04-29.
- Willman, Chris (2008-10-22). "Vote for (or against) Guns N' Roses' 'Chinese Democracy' single | EW.com". Popwatch.ew.com. Retrieved 2010-04-29.
- "The GQ Eye: GQ". Men.style.com. 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2010-04-29.
- "Chinese Democracy Song Review - Guns N' Roses". Zimbio. Retrieved 2010-04-29.
- "Slash Endorses 'Chinese Democracy'". Starpulse.com. 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2010-04-29.
- "WWE Armageddon home page". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
The official theme song for Armageddon was “Chinese Democracy” by Guns N’ Roses. The song is off the album Chinese Democracy, which is in stores now on Geffen Records.
- Chinese Democracy (Media notes). Guns N' Roses. Geffen Records. 2008.