Hocus Pocus (song)

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"Hocus Pocus"
Hocus Pocus Focus.jpg
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
Audio sample
"Hocus Pocus"

"Hocus Pocus" is a song by the Dutch rock band Focus, written by keyboardist, flautist, 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.[5] 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,[5] this version rose to No. 20 on the UK charts in late January 1973.[6] "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.[7][8]

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.[5] That year the single re-entered the UK charts at No. 57 on and the Dutch charts at No. 48. In 2017, the song was used in the film Baby Driver.

"Hocus Pocus" has been covered by the Vandals, on their debut LP, When in Rome Do as The Vandals, in 1984; by Helloween on their album Metal Jukebox in 1999; and by Iron Maiden for the European version of their DVD single "Different World" in 2006.


"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.

Hocus Pocus accompanied the chase scenes of Dave TV's 2016 fantasy comedy Zapped, in Series 3 Episode 5 called "Book".

The song was prominently featured in a scene in Edgar Wright’s 2017 film Baby Driver, elements of the track having been used in Wright's 2007 film Hot Fuzz by composer David Arnold.

The song was used in the trailer for Pixar's 2020 film Onward. It was also used in DreamWorks' 2020 film Trolls World Tour as well as in the end credits of the 2020 Netflix film The Babysitter: Killer Queen. On the 7th-Inning Stretch livestream, organist Josh Kantor performs the song to celebrate viewers' birthdays.[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. ^ a b c "The Story of Focus' Exceptional Hit, 'Hocus Pocus'". Bandonthewall.org. November 2018. Archived from the original on 22 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Hocus Pocus: Singles". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  7. ^ The Hot 100, Week of June 2, 1973 – Billboard. Retrieved 26 December 2020
  8. ^ The Hot 100, Week of June 9, 1973 – Billboard. Retrieved 26 December 2020
  9. ^ Knight, Gladys (host) (5 October 1973). The Midnight Special. Season 2. Episode 4.
  10. ^ @jtkantor (9 September 2020). "The old "Happy Birthday to You" song is overplayed. Please join my grassroots movement to make "Hocus Pocus" by Foc…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  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".
  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]