Free (Ultra Naté song)

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"Free"
Ultra Nate Free.jpg
Single by Ultra Naté
from the album Situation: Critical
ReleasedMarch 31, 1997
Format
GenreHouse
Length
  • 5:52 (album version)
  • 3:25 (Mood II Swing radio mix)
LabelStrictly Rhythm
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Springsteen
  • Ciafone
Ultra Naté singles chronology
"How Long"
(1994)
"Free"
(1997)
"Found a Cure"
(1998)
Music video
"Free" on YouTube

"Free" is a song by American recording artist Ultra Naté released on March 31, 1997 by her record label Strictly Rhythm. The song was co-written by Naté, Lem Springsteen and John Ciafone while production was held by both Springsteen and Ciafone. "Free" was served as the lead single from her third studio album, Situation: Critical (1997). Musically, the song is a house influenced song that incorporates strong '90s soul, dance, garage and disco.

"Free" received positive reviews from contemporary music critics, who commended her vocal ability and production. The song has been noted as one of the best dance anthems during the '90s era. The song became Naté's most successful single to date, charting in many countries around the world. "Free" reached number one in Italy and peaked inside the top ten in Canada, France, Iceland, Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The song also managed to chart on the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 75, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart.

Ultra Naté performed the song in various TV-shows, like the British music chart television programme Top of the Pops, where she performed several times.[1][2]

Critical reception[edit]

"Free" received positive reviews from most music critics. Billboard stated that the song "shows [Ultra Naté] in excellent vocal form, belting with a level of authority that only comes with time and experience." They noted further that "She has a field day with the message of empowerment that fuels "Free," not to mention producers Lem Springsteen and Jon Ciafone's invigorating soul-house groove."[3] AllMusic had highlighted three official versions of the song as "AllMusic Track Picks": the Bob Sinclar Remix, Jason Nevins Mix and the original version of the song.[4] A reviewer from the publication Resident Advisor awarded the song four stars out of five. The reviewer said "This is a solid package from Curvve Recordings. “Free” has already received widespread plays from jocks worldwide, this time around it appears that it may well do the same. An absolute crowd puller, and an essential release for any house dj that is looking for something to fill up a dance floor in seconds." Dave Sholin from the Gavin Report commented "Don't let this one slip by without a careful listen."[5]

Music video[edit]

The music video of "Free" was directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato.[6] It features Naté performing in an empty hospital. There are two different edits of the video, with some different scenes.

Impact and legacy[edit]

DJ Magazine ranked it number 5 in their list of the "Top 100 Club Tunes" in 1998.[7]

MTV Dance placed "Free" at number 31 in their list of "The 100 Biggest 90's Dance Anthems of All Time" in November 2011.[8]

Mixmag included the song in their list of "The 30 best vocal house anthems ever" in 2018. They wrote: "The opening bars are delicate, but soon enough the bumping production kicks in, underpinning a vocal that burns with the potency of the sun’s surface, encouraging dancers to live by Ultra Naté’s words and be free."[9] In 2019, "Free" was also included in their list of "The 20 best diva house tracks".[10]

British singer-songwriter and actor Will Young chose "Free" as his all-time favorite sunshine track in 2019. He said about the track: "MTV was so big then and this video came along and Ultra Nate had very short hair, dyed yellow and was so different-looking – she paved the way for a different kind of artist."[11]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Free" (Mood II Swing Radio Edit) – 3:41
  2. "Free" (Full Intention Radio Edit) – 3:20
  3. "Free" (Mood II Swing Extended Vocal Mix) – 12:09
  4. "Free" (Full Intention Vocal Mix) – 6:50
  5. "Free" (R.I.P. Up North Mix) – 6:45
  6. "Free" (R.I.P. Down South Dub) – 6:25
  7. "Free" (Mood II Swing Live Mix) – 7:42
  8. "Free" (Mood II Swing Dub Mix) – 8:52
  9. "Free" (Full Intention Sugar Daddy Dub) – 6:05

Remixes[edit]

  • In 2005, Curvve Recordings released the official remixes of "Free". Remixers included:
    • "Free" (Oscar G remix)
    • "Free" (Junior Sanchez Remix)
    • "Free" (Brick City Remix)
    • "Free" (Corbett and Troia remix)
    • "Free" (Jason Nevins Remix)
  • In 2016, Defected Records released a Deep House remix/mashup of "Free" made by Claptone, called "The First Time Free (Claptone Remix)". This track includes the guitar riff from "Free", overlaid with the vocals from "The First Time", by Roland Clark.

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ultra Nate – Free – Top Of The Pops – Friday 4th July 1997". YouTube. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  2. ^ "Ultra Nate – Free". YouTube. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  3. ^ "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard magazine. June 21, 1997. p. 73. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  4. ^ "Ultra Naté – Songs". AllMusic.
  5. ^ Sholin, Dave (August 15, 1997). "Gavin Picks > Singles" (PDF). Gavin Report. No. 2168. p. 62. Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  6. ^ "Ultra Nate Free". mvdbase.com. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  7. ^ "DJ Magazine Top 100 Club Tunes (1998)". discogs.com. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  8. ^ MTV Dance – Tuesday 27.12.2011
  9. ^ "The 30 best vocal house anthems ever". Mixmag. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  10. ^ "The 20 best diva house tracks". Mixmag. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  11. ^ "The ultimate summer playlist: 21 golden tracks chosen by 21 artists". The Guardian. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  12. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Ultra Naté – Free". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  13. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Ultra Naté – Free" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  14. ^ "Ultratop.be – Ultra Naté – Free" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  15. ^ "Ultratop.be – Ultra Naté – Free" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  16. ^ "Ultratop Dance 13/09/1997". ultratop.be. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  17. ^ "Ultra Naté Chart History (Canadian Digital Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Dance/Urban: Issue 3344." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  19. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 14 no. 39. September 27, 1997. p. 13.
  20. ^ "Lescharts.com – Ultra Naté – Free" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  21. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Ultra Naté – Free". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  22. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (14.08.1997 – 21.08.1997)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir – Tónlist. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  23. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Ultra Nate". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  24. ^ "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 14 no. 37. September 13, 1997. p. 14. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  25. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 38, 1997" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  26. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Ultra Naté – Free" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  27. ^ "Charts.nz – Ultra Naté – Free". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  28. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Ultra Naté – Free". VG-lista. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  29. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  30. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Ultra Naté – Free". Singles Top 100. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  31. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Ultra Naté – Free". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  32. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  33. ^ "Official Dance Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 14, 2018.
  34. ^ "Ultra Nate Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  35. ^ "Ultra Nate Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  36. ^ "Ultra Naté Chart History (Dance Singles Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  37. ^ "Rapports annuels 1997" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  38. ^ "RPM '97 Year End Top 50 Dance Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  39. ^ "1997 Year-End Sales Charts: Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  40. ^ "Classement Singles – année 1997" (in French). Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  41. ^ "Árslistinn 1997 – Íslenski Listinn – 100 Vinsælustu Lögin". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). January 2, 1998. p. 25. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
  42. ^ "Swiss Year-End Charts 1997" (in German). Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  43. ^ "Top 100 Singles 1997". Music Week. January 27, 1998. p. 27.
  44. ^ "French single certifications – Ultra Nate – Free" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  45. ^ "British single certifications – Ultra Naté – Free". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 14, 2018. Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Free in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.