He's on the Phone

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"He's on the Phone"
He's on the Phone.jpg
Single by Saint Etienne
from the album Too Young to Die
  • "Groveley Road"
  • "Is It True"
  • "The Process"
  • "How I Learned to Love the Bomb"
Released 6 November 1995
29 October 1996 (1996-10-29)
Recorded 1995
Genre Handbag house[1]
  • 4:09 (Radio Edit)
  • 5:10 (Full Length)
Saint Etienne singles chronology
"Hug My Soul"
"He's on the Phone"

"Hug My Soul"
"He's on the Phone"
Music video
"He's on the Phone" on YouTube

"He's on the Phone" is a song by British pop group Saint Etienne in collaboration with French singer-songwriter Étienne Daho. A fast-paced dance track, it is one of Saint Etienne's biggest hits, reaching #11 on the UK Singles Chart.[2] The lyrics tell of an "academia girl" trying to escape from a relationship with a married man: "He's on the phone / And she wants to go home, / Shoes in hand, / Don't make a sound, / It's time to go." At the centre of the track is a spoken-word section by Daho.

The song is a remix by Motiv8 of "Accident", which appeared on the Saint Etienne/Étienne Daho Reserection EP, released a few months previously in June 1995. "Accident" itself is a rewritten version of Daho's 1984 French-language hit single "Weekend à Rome", with original English lyrics. Daho's spoken-word vocals are from the Reserection opening track, "Reserection".

The single was credited to "Saint Etienne featuring Étienne Daho". Daho also appears in the song's music video and joined the band in their performance of the song on Top of the Pops. Daho would also go on to perform the original "Weekend à Rome" lyrics with the instrumentation from "He's on the Phone" in a performance on the French edition of Star Academy.

Spanish pop singer Princessa covered the song on her 1996 album Calling You.


According to producer Steve Rodway, the band had never intended to use "Accident" as single material, but had given it to him for remixing as it was "the only new track they had" at the time of the release of Too Young to Die. Rodway retained an edited-down portion of Daho's vocals, and otherwise only kept the opening piano riff from the original instrumentation (both at the band's request).[3]

Sound on Sound magazine describes "He's on the Phone" as characteristic of most of Rodway's "trademark" sounds:

A hard disk recorder was used to create backing vocals echoing the original through time stretching and pitch shifting.[3]


In 1999, Tom Ewing of Freaky Trigger ranked the single at number 29 in his list of the "Top 100 Singles of the 90s".[4]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1995) Peak
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[5] 44
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[6] 31
Scotland (Official Charts Company) 12
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[7] 41
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 11

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written and composed by Cracknell, Stanley, Wiggs, Daho; except where indicated

MC: Heavenly / HVN 50CS (UK)[edit]

  1. "He's On The Phone" - 4:09
  2. "He's On The Phone" (Motiv8 Mix) - 6:25

CD: Heavenly / HVN 50CD (UK)[edit]

  1. "He's On The Phone" - 4:09
  2. "Groveley Road" (Stanley, Wiggs) - 3:39
  3. "Is It True" (Marc Bolan) - 2:49
  4. "The Process" (Stanley, Wiggs) - 3:11

CD: Heavenly / HVN 50CDR (UK)[edit]

  1. "He's On The Phone" (Motiv8 Mix) - 6:25
  2. "Cool Kids Of Death" (Underworld Remix) (Stanley, Wiggs) - 14:31
  3. "How I Learned To Love The Bomb" (Treacy) - 3:05

CD: MCA / MCADM-55268 (US)[edit]

  1. "He's On The Phone" (Radio Edit) - 4:08
  2. "He's On The Phone" (Motiv8 Mix) - 6:26
  3. "He's On The Phone" (Primax Bungee Dub Mix) - 6:03
  4. "He's On The Phone" (Primax Bungee Vocal Mix) - 5:05

12": Heavenly / HVN 50-12Pi (UK)[edit]

  1. "He's On The Phone" (Motiv 8 Extended Mix) - 6:25
  2. "He's On The Phone" (Motiv 8 Dub)

12": Heavenly / HVN 50-12Pii (UK)[edit]

  1. "Cool Kids Of Death" (underworld mix) (Stanley, Wiggs) - 14:31
  2. "Like A Motorway" (david holmes mix) (Stanley, Wiggs) - 13:01

12": Heavenly / HVN 50-12Piii (UK)[edit]

  1. "He's On The Phone" (Bungee Vocal Mix)
  2. "He's On The Phone" (Naked Bungee Dub)

12": MCA / MCA12-55268 (US)[edit]

  1. "He's On The Phone" (Motiv8 Mix) - 6:26
  2. "He's On The Phone" (Primax Bungee Dub Mix) - 6:03
  3. "He's On The Phone" (Primax Bungee Vocal Mix) - 5:05


  1. ^ Ewing, Tom (12 November 1999). "29. SAINT ETIENNE – "He's On The Phone"". Freaky Trigger. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Chart Stats - Saint Etienne". chartstats.com. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  3. ^ a b c Bell, Matt (June 1996), "Motivating the Mix", Sound on Sound, 11 (8), pp. 72–76, ISSN 0951-6816
  4. ^ Ewing, Tom (12 November 1999). "29. SAINT ETIENNE – "He's On The Phone"". Freaky Trigger. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. 25 November 1995. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (25.11.1995 - 01.12.1995)" (PDF). Dagblaðið Vísir - Tónlist. Retrieved 3 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Saint Etienne – He's on the Phone". Singles Top 100.

External links[edit]