Hocus Pocus (song)

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"Hocus Pocus"
Hocus Pocus Focus.jpg
Single by Focus
from the album Focus II
Released1971 (Europe)
February 1973 (U.S. and Canada)
Format45 single
Recorded1971; 48 years ago (1971)
Length6:42 (album version)
3:18 (single edit)
3:25 (re-recording: "Hocus Pocus 2″ "Hocus Pocus II")
LabelImperial Records (NL)
Polydor (DE, UK)
Blue Horizon (UK)
Sire Records (US, CA)
Songwriter(s)Thijs van Leer, Jan Akkerman
Producer(s)Mike Vernon
Audio sample
"Hocus Pocus"

"Hocus Pocus" is a 1971 song from Moving Waves, the second album by Dutch rock group Focus. It was written by guitarist Jan Akkerman and flautist-keyboardist Thijs van Leer.

An edited version was released as a single (with "Janis" as the B-side) on the Imperial Records, Polydor and Blue Horizon labels in Europe in 1971,[1][2][3][4] but it did not chart in the UK until 1973.[5] A faster re-recording, "Hocus Pocus 2", was released as a single (with "House of the King" as the B-side) in Europe in 1972.[6] "Hocus Pocus" c/w "Hocus Pocus II" [sic] was released as a single on the Sire Records label in the United States and Canada in 1973.[7][8]

It reached No. 20 in the UK, No. 18 in Canada, and No. 9 in the US during the spring and summer of 1973. It re-entered the UK charts at No. 57 on 6 June 2010 after being featured heavily on The Chris Moyles Show and in a Nike TV advert shown during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song has been covered by the Vandals, and was recorded on their debut LP, When in Rome Do as The Vandals in 1984.


"Hocus Pocus" takes the form of a rondo, consisting of alternation between a powerful rock chord riff with short drum solos and then varied solo "verses" (in the original all performed by Thijs van Leer) which include yodeling, eefing, organ playing, accordion, scat singing, flute riffs, and whistling. The single version is significantly edited from the album version.

"Hocus Pocus 2" is a slightly faster version with some funk elements and rhythms added. It was released as a single in its own right in Europe and was the B-side to the North American release of "Hocus Pocus". When performing live, Focus would play "Hocus Pocus" even faster.[9]

Use in media[edit]

TNT used the song as an introduction to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons as well as Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between the Phoenix Suns and Seattle SuperSonics during the 1997 NBA Playoffs.

The song has also been used in the British motoring show Top Gear during one of The Stig's power laps, on series 6 episode 1, testing a Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG; as the exit music on the second series of the BBC TV sitcom Saxondale; in the film The Stoned Age; in a 2008 McDonald's commercial featuring the website Line Rider; in a 2010 Nike football World Cup advertisement titled "Write the Future"; in the third season episode of My Name is Earl entitled "Early Release", when Earl is locked in solitary confinement; and in the 2008 Supernatural episode "Ghostfacers".

The song was used in the episode "chris" in the Channel 4 teen drama Skins. During a scene where Chris tries to sell a CD player for pizza, the song can be heard playing in the background while Chris and Sid are about to get kicked out of a music shop, the music plays as they end up making their way to a tip where they end up selling the CD player

The song was sampled for J. Cole's 2010 single "Blow Up".

"Hocus Pocus 2" was included in GuitarFreaks & DrumMania V5 Rock to Infinity and was also used in the 2014 remake of Robocop during a live-fire test with Robocop against a large number of robot drones and the character Mattox.

The Cincinnati Reds used a sample of the song as the opening television credits during the 1973 season which displayed clips of the 1972 National League Championship Series in which Johnny Bench hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the fifth and final game as well as George Foster scoring the pennant-winning run on a wild pitch.

The song has also been featured on HBO's Vinyl, and on season 7 of Showtime's Shameless.

The song was also used in the 2013 documentary 1. In this film about Formula 1 racing, the pulsing song was the backdrop for in-car footage of Ayrton Senna's qualifying lap at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The song was prominently featured in a scene of the 2017 film Baby Driver.

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1973) Peak
Canadian Singles Chart[10] 18
Dutch Singles Chart[11] 12
UK Singles Chart[12] 20
U.S. Billboard 100[13] 9
Chart (2010)
Dutch Singles Chart[11] 48
UK Singles Chart[14] 57


  1. ^ "Focus - Hocus Pocus". 45cat.com. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  2. ^ "Focus - Hocus Pocus". 45cat.com. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Focus (2) - Hocus Pocus". Discogs. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Focus (2) - Hocus Pocus". Discogs. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  5. ^ "Official Charts (UK); UK single release". Officialchrts.com. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Focus (2) - Hocus Pocus 2". Discogs. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  7. ^ "Focus - Hocus Pocus". 45cat.com. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Focus (2) - Hocus Pocus / Hocus Pocus II". Discogs. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  9. ^ Knight, Gladys (host) (5 October 1973). The Midnight Special. Season 2. Episode 4.
  10. ^ "RPM100 Singles". RPM. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Dutch Music Charts". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  12. ^ "Focus Chart Performance". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  13. ^ "Focus – Hocus Pocus Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  14. ^ "Hocus Pocus Chart Performance". acharts.co. Retrieved May 8, 2018.

External links[edit]