Genetic Engineering (song)

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"Genetic Engineering"
Single by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
from the album Dazzle Ships
B-side "4-NEU"
Released 11 February 1983[1]
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded The Manor, Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire, England
Genre New wave
Length 3:37
Label Telegraph (Virgin)
Writer(s) Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys
Producer(s) OMD, Rhett Davies
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark singles chronology
"Maid of Orleans (The Waltz Joan of Arc)"
"Genetic Engineering"

"Genetic Engineering" is a song by British band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, released as the first single from their fourth studio album Dazzle Ships. Frontman Andy McCluskey has noted that the song is not an attack on genetic engineering, as many assumed at the time, including veteran radio presenter Dave Lee Travis upon playing the song on BBC Radio 1. McCluskey stated: "I was very positive about the subject." "People didn't listen to the lyrics...I think they automatically assumed it would be anti."[2]

Charting at number 20 on the UK Singles Chart, "Genetic Engineering" ended the band's run of four consecutive Top 10 hits in the UK. It was also a Top 20 hit in several European territories, and peaked at number 5 in Spain. It missed the United States Billboard Hot 100 but made number 32 on the Mainstream Rock chart. US critic Ned Raggett retrospectively lauded the "soaring", "enjoyable" single in a positive review of Dazzle Ships for AllMusic, asserting: "Why it wasn't a hit remains a mystery."[3]

Critics in prominent music publications have suggested that the first 45 seconds of the song were a direct influence on Radiohead's "Fitter Happier", which appears on that band's 1997 album OK Computer.[3][4][5] Theon Weber in Stylus argued that the Radiohead track is "deeply indebted" to "Genetic Engineering".[4] The synthesized speech featured on the track is taken from a Speak & Spell, an educational electronic toy developed by Texas Instruments in the 1970s intended to teach children with spelling.


The new song "4-Neu" was featured on the B-side of both the 7" and 12" versions. The song was not included on the Dazzle Ships album and remained exclusive to this release until its inclusion in the Navigation: The OMD B-Sides album in 2001 and then on the remastered special edition of Dazzle Ships in 2008. The song continues the band's tradition of including more experimental tracks as B sides to singles. The song title is a tribute to 70's German band Neu!, a Krautrock band that were an important influence on Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys prior to OMD.[6] "4-Neu" was never performed live until the special performance of Dazzle Ships at The Museum of Liverpool in November 2014 and at the Dazzle Ships / Architecture & Morality live performances in London and Germany in May 2016.[7]

Track listing[edit]

7" vinyl single and 7" picture disc[edit]

  • UK: Telegraph VS 527

Side one

  1. "Genetic Engineering" – 3:37

Side two

  1. "4-NEU" – 3:33

12" vinyl single[edit]

  • UK: Telegraph VS 527-12

Side one

  1. "Genetic Engineering" (312mm version) – 5:18

Side two

  1. "4-NEU" – 3:33

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
Belgian Singles Chart[8] 18
German Singles Chart 20
Irish Singles Chart[9] 11
Spanish Singles Chart 5
UK Singles Chart[10] 20
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[11] 32

Promo video[edit]

A promotional video for Genetic Engineering was made and is included on the Messages - Greatest Hits CD/DVD release (2008).

Alternative versions and live performances[edit]

Apart from the extended '312 mm version' the band also recorded the song for a John Peel radio session in 1983. This version was made available on the Peel Sessions 1979-1983 album release (2000).

OMD played the song live on The Tube during its first series in February 1983.

The song was performed live during the Dazzle Ships promotional tour but rarely since then, until more recent live performances shows in 2014 and 2016.[12]

Cover versions[edit]

"Genetic Engineering" was covered by indie rock band Eggs and released as a single in 1994.[13]

It was also covered by Another Sunny Day as a limited edition single in 1989 and as an extra track on the re-release of on their 'London Weekend' album.

Optiganally Yours recorded a cover for a "very low-key tribute compilation".[14]

More recently, it has been covered by the indie rock band Oxford Collapse as part of the Hann-Byrd EP released in 2008.


  1. ^ "OMD Discography: Singles 1979-84". Retrieved 10 January 2010. 
  2. ^ Stanley, Bob. How to lose 3 million fans in one easy step. The Guardian. 7 March 2008. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. "Dazzle Ships review". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Weber, Theon (13 March 2007). "On First Listen: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". Stylus. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Bergstrom, John (17 April 2008). "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Dazzle Ships Review". PopMatters. Retrieved 3 October 2009. 
  6. ^ "OMD Discography - Genetic Engineering". Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  7. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - 4-Neu". Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  8. ^ "The Belgium Charts -". Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  9. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". IRMA. Retrieved 2008-09-10. 
  10. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  11. ^ "Allmusic - Billboard singles - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  12. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Genetic Engineering". Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  13. ^ "Eggs - Genetic Engineering (7", Single)". Discogs. Retrieved 10 January 2010. 
  14. ^ " » Audio". Retrieved 25 June 2012.