|Single by Elvis Costello and the Attractions|
|from the album Trust|
|Released||12 December 1980|
|Elvis Costello and the Attractions singles chronology|
"Clubland" is a song written by new wave musician Elvis Costello and performed by Costello and the Attractions on their 1981 album, Trust. Written in 1980, the song was performed live in festivals before the album's release. The lyrics, inspired by the band's most recent tour, describe life in night clubs, while the music includes inspiration from the Police.
The song was released as the first single from Trust in 1980, backed by two unreleased songs from the Armed Forces sessions. It under-performed as a single compared to the band's previous releases, reaching number 60, but has been praised by critics.
"Clubland" had been written in the summer of 1980, before the recording of the Trust album. A demo of the song was created during this same time. Early versions of the song and other songs from Trust, including "From a Whisper to a Scream", "You'll Never Be a Man", and "Lover's Walk", were debuted at the band's festival appearances in 1980, such as the band's performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
In his memoir, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, Costello writes that the lyrical inspiration for the song, as well as other songs on Trust such as "Pretty Words" and "White Knuckles", comes from the Get Happy!! tour. The song's lyrics detail the nightlife and club scene, containing multiple double entendres and puns. Musically, Costello claims that his guitar work on the song was inspired by new wave band the Police. The song also contains "quasi-latin" piano work by Steve Nieve and drumming by Pete Thomas that is, according to Jim Beviglia of American Songwriter, "all over the place propelling the song in different directions without ever getting in the way of the tune". Costello claimed in the liner notes for Trust that the studio version of the song was lacking in comparison to later renditions.
"Clubland" was released as a single in Britain in December 1980, prior to the release of Trust. The single featured "Clean Money" and "Hoover Factory" on the B-side. "Clean Money", which was rejected from Armed Forces in favor of "Accidents Will Happen", was inspired by Cheap Trick's In Color and was dismissed by Costello as "an overly powdered-up rocker". "Hoover Factory", recorded in 1979, was written before Costello signed his first contract and was originally intended to be the B-side to the "Oliver's Army" single. "Clubland" was not released as a single in the United States, where "Watch Your Step" was released instead.
The "Clubland" single was a chart disappointment, only reaching number 60 on the British charts. This ended Costello's streak of nine Top 40 British singles that he had held since "Watching the Detectives" reached number 15. The second British single from Trust, "From a Whisper to a Scream", failed to chart at all, despite the guest appearance of Squeeze singer Glenn Tilbrook. Costello would not return to the Top 40 until 1983, when "Pills and Soap" reached number 16.
Despite a lack of commercial success, "Clubland" has received positive reception from critics. Blender praised the song's "peerless acid-tongue", while Stephen Thomas Erlewine lauded its "jazzy flourishes". Stewart Mason of AllMusic labeled the song "both an entirely typical Elvis Costello song ... and a harbinger of a new and more mature sound" and noted that the "somewhat meandering melody of the verses ... contrast nicely with the urgent, pumping chorus". Jim Beviglia of American Songwriter ranked the song as the eleventh best Elvis Costello song ever, calling the song "a powerful indictment of any scene where greed and the pursuit of pleasure take the place of restraint and common sense".
- Thomson, Graeme (7 March 2013). Complicated Shadows: The Life And Music Of Elvis Costello. Canongate Books. ISBN 978-1841957968. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Costello, Elvis (13 October 2015). Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. Blue Rider Press. ISBN 978-0399167256. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Beviglia, Jim. "The Top 20 Elvis Costello Songs". American Songwriter. ForASong Media, LLC. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Mason, Stewart. "Clubland". AllMusic. All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Bruno, Franklin (28 April 2005). Elvis Costello's Armed Forces. A&C Black. pp. 39–40. ISBN 978-0826416742. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Mason, Stewart. "Hoover Factory". AllMusic. All Media Network, LLC. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- "Elvis Costello". Official Charts. British Phonographic Industry and the Entertainment Retailers Association. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- "Imposter". Official Charts. British Phonographic Industry and the Entertainment Retailers Association. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
- Harrison, Andrew. "Elvis Costello: (various reissues)". Blender. Archived from the original on 24 October 2004. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Trust – Elvis Costello / Elvis Costello & the Attractions". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 December 2015.