Hocus Pocus (song)

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"Hocus Pocus"
Single by Focus
from the album Focus II
ReleasedJuly 1971 (Europe) [1]
February 1973 (US, Canada)
Recorded1971; re-recorded 1972
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
Official audio
"Hocus Pocus" on YouTube

"Hocus Pocus" is a song by the Dutch rock band Focus, written by keyboardist, flutist, and vocalist Thijs van Leer and guitarist Jan Akkerman. It was recorded and released in 1971 as the opening track of their second studio album Moving Waves.[6] An edited version was released as a single (with "Janis" as the B-side) on the Imperial, Polydor and Blue Horizon labels in Europe in 1971, but failed to chart outside of the Netherlands(NL#09).

A faster re-recording of the song (titled "Hocus Pocus 2" or "Hocus Pocus II" in some markets) was released in Europe in 1972. Buoyed by a live performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test in December 1972 and a subsequent barnstorming British club tour,[6] this version rose to No. 20 on the UK charts in late January 1973.[7] "Hocus Pocus" was also released as a single on the Sire Records label in the United States and Canada in 1973. It peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 the weeks of June 2 and 9 in the US and No. 18 in Canada during the spring and summer of that year.[8][9]

The song was given new life when it became the musical signature of the Nike Write the Future advertising campaign, shown during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.[6] That year the single re-entered the UK charts at No. 57 and on the Dutch charts at No. 48.

In 1999 the song was covered by German Heavy Metal band Helloween and released on their Metal Jukebox album.


"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.[10]

Chart performance[edit]


  1. ^ "Focus singles".
  2. ^ de la Rosa, Manzanares (12 February 2018). "Strange Hits: Focus - "Hocus Pocus"". The Young Folks. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  3. ^ Reed, Ryan (28 July 2021). "Top 50 Progressive Rock Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  4. ^ Todd, Frank (24 May 2018). "Todd's Baby Boomer Trivia: Volume 21". My Central Jersey. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  5. ^ Popoff, Martin (January 5, 2024). "The Top 20 unlikely Progressive Rock hits, ranked". Goldmine. Retrieved January 7, 2024.
  6. ^ a b c "The Story of Focus' Exceptional Hit, 'Hocus Pocus'". Bandonthewall.org. November 2018. Archived from the original on 22 October 2019.
  7. ^ "Hocus Pocus: Singles". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  8. ^ The Hot 100, Week of June 2, 1973 – Billboard. Retrieved 26 December 2020
  9. ^ The Hot 100, Week of June 9, 1973 – Billboard. Retrieved 26 December 2020
  10. ^ Knight, Gladys (host) (5 October 1973). The Midnight Special. Season 2. Episode 4.
  11. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  12. ^ "RPM100 Singles". RPM. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Dutch Music Charts". Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Focus Chart Performance". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Focus Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard.com. 2019. Archived from the original on 31 May 2019.
  16. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, June 16, 1973
  17. ^ "Hocus Pocus Chart Performance". Acharts.co. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  18. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (July 13, 2017). "Image : RPM Weekly". Library and Archives Canada.
  19. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1973". Billboard. Archived from the original on 25 November 2010. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  20. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 29, 1973

External links[edit]