Killer (Adamski song)
|Single by Adamski featuring Seal|
|from the album Doctor Adamski's Musical Pharmacy|
|Released||21 March 1990|
|Adamski singles chronology|
|Seal singles chronology|
"Killer" is a song by British acid house DJ and record producer Adamski. Written by Adamski and Seal and produced by Adamski, "Killer" was Adamski's breakthrough single but is now more notable for featuring Seal as a vocalist. A major hit in the United Kingdom, it reached number one on the UK Singles Chart, spending four weeks at the top in May and June 1990. In total, the single sold over 400,000 copies in the UK, earning it a Gold certification from the British Phonographic Industry. The song also peaked at number one in Belgium and Zimbabwe and number two in Germany and the Netherlands.
Journalist Dave Simpson conducted a pair of interviews for The Guardian in 2013 with Seal and Adamski, concerning the origins of "Killer". Adamski recounted that Seal had seen him perform in 1989 at an illegal rave called 'Sunrise 5000' at the Santa Pod Raceway. Seal had afterwards handed a demo tape to Adamski's MC, Daddy Chester, with which both were impressed. Seal had previously been singing in blues bands but a year spent travelling in Asia had recently changed his view of life and he had since become involved in the rave scene.
Adamski and Seal later happened to meet on New Year's Eve 1989 at a club named Solaris in London, and Seal was invited to work on one of a number of pieces that Adamski was performing at that time. Adamski had an instrumental track he called "The Killer" because he felt that it sounded 'like the soundtrack to a movie murder scene'. According to Adamski, Seal's vocals were recorded against this track on 27 January 1990: coincidentally the same day that 10,000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square (not far from the studio where they were working) for the 'Freedom to Party' demonstration against a government crackdown on rave culture, which Adamski himself attended. The track features only two instruments – keyboard and a Roland TR-909 drum machine – and occupied only eight tracks of a 48-track mixing console. The relationship between Adamski and Seal later soured due to their record company wanting to promote the record as solely being by Adamski, despite the fact that Seal had both written and sung on the track. The production of the record and subsequent feud was documented in the Channel 4 program Top 10: 1990, broadcast ten years after the record was first released.
In the Simpson interviews, both Adamski and Seal recalled that they were in financial trouble at the time of recording. Seal was almost penniless and was living in a squat. Although Adamski had his own following as a DJ and was enjoying success with his previous single "N-R-G", he was on a government scheme which paid his rent and allowed him £40 a week. Both Adamski and Seal were struck by the popularity of "Killer" following its release on 21 March 1990. The song went to the top of the UK charts, reached the top ten in many European countries, and sold strongly across the world. Adamski recounted his surprise at people singing the memorable bassline to him in the street and, in particular, at hearing the track played at a wedding in a hotel at which he stayed following a performance in Cambridge. Seal told Simpson, "within a week, I went from being a relative nobody – this weird guy at raves, with silver bits in my hair – to a household name."
Seal explained to Dave Simpson that the words he provided for "Killer" were intended as an exhortation to freedom and overcoming; that "the lyrics are about transcending whatever holds you back".
Lyrically, the song features the line "It's the loneliness that's the killer", which occurs only once in the introduction to the Seal version and not at all in the Adamski version. However, the distinctive opening bassline and keyboard melody during the chorus are preserved in almost every version of the song in some form.
The song also contains the lyrics "Racism in amongst future kings can only lead to no good, and besides, all our sons and daughters already know how that feels"; this was re-used in Seal's song "Future Love Paradise", which is featured on his debut album.
Tom Doyle from Smash Hits noted the song as "a bit of surprise" and complimented Seal, "who turns in a fine soul-singing". He added that the track "builds up from a slow Depeche Mode-sounding beginning into a full-blown "rave" record and then drops down for the moody bit again at the end. A complete success." Tom Ewing from Freaky Trigger wrote, "What was startling about the record in 1990 – and what lets it keep its charge now – is that the music simply refuses to get out of Seal’s way. In fact, if you only knew Seal from the rolling smoothness of his latterday career “Killer” would come as a real shock: here he is, making his debut not as a highfalutin’ loverman but as an isolated paranoid battling through a tangle of wires and buzz. Adamski is truly as much the star here, putting together a tense, crisp piece of house music which doesn’t actually need his singer to be memorable (though surely needed him to reach number one)"
The music video for "Killer" was directed by Don Searll.
Charts and certifications
UK chart history
"Killer" debuted in the UK Top 40 at number 39 on 14 April 1990. Although the track was credited solely to Adamski by the Official Charts Company, various publications credited Seal's contribution to the song as a featured artist. It eventually reached the Top 10 in its fourth week on the chart, before reaching number one on 12 May. After enjoying a four-week run at the top, the track fell one place to number 2, being replaced in pole position by "World in Motion" by New Order (credited as England New Order). Whilst at number one, "Killer" withstood strong competition from "Dirty Cash (Money Talks)" by The Adventures of Stevie V and "Better the Devil You Know" by Kylie Minogue. It spent 16 weeks in the Top 40.
1991 7" UK single
|Single by Seal|
|from the album Seal|
|Released||4 November 1991|
|Seal singles chronology|
In 1991, Seal re-recorded "Killer" for his eponymous debut album, produced by Trevor Horn. The single release of Seal's version peaked at number 8 in the United Kingdom, squeezed onto the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 100, and peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart with a remix by William Orbit.
The music video for Seal's version was produced and directed by Don Searll, and used computer-generated science-fiction themed imagery, largely built around a partial re-creation of the M. C. Escher print Another World. The song won British Video of the Year at the 1992 Brit Awards.
A new single release of "Killer", containing new remixes of both this and another Seal hit, "Crazy", was released in January 2005. This brought the single back to the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart, where it reached number one.
US maxi-single (1991)
- "Killer" (single version)
- "Killer" (William Orbit remix)
- "Whirlpool" (live)
- "Killer" (live)
- "Come See What Love Has Done" (live)
- "Hey Joe" (live) ("Billy Roberts" cover)
- "Killer" (William Orbit dub)
US maxi-single (2005)
- "Killer" (Peter Rauhofer remix part one)
- "Killer" (Peter Rauhofer remix part two)
- "Killer" (Morel's Pink Noise vocal mix)
- "Killer" (DJ Monk remix)
- "Killer" (Jim Albert's Loneliness is the Killer mix)
- "Crazy" (Ananda Project vocal mix)
- "Crazy" (Orange Factory mix)
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||75|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||8|
|US Billboard Hot 100||100|
|US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)||9|
|US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales||14|
|US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)
P. Rauhofer/Morel/DJ Monk/J. Albert Mixes
|US Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales||3|
George Michael version
|"Killer" / "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone"|
|Single by George Michael|
|from the album Five Live|
|Released||10 April 1993|
|George Michael singles chronology|
In 1991, George Michael performed "Killer" live at the Wembley Arena in a version that was released on the 1993 EP Five Live. "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" was also recorded and released on the same album. The two songs were blended together in the live performance, then remixed several times. The P.M. Dawn extended and radio remix for the "Killer"/"Papa" combination was released in 1993. Michael shot a video for the release, in which he did not appear personally. The video was directed by Marcus Nispel.
- "Killer/Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (English edit)
- "Killer/Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (Ligosa Mix)
- "Killer/Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (P.M. Dawn Remix)
|Canada Top Singles (RPM)||19|
|Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)||4|
|US Billboard Hot 100||69|
|US Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs||5|
|Single by ATB|
|from the album Movin' Melodies|
|Released||31 May 1999|
|ATB singles chronology|
Trance act ATB recorded a version of "Killer" in 1999, released as a single on 31 May 1999 in Germany and on 19 September 2000 in the United States. Featuring vocals by Drue Williams, it was the producer's first fully vocal-based song under the ATB name. The song uses elements from both Adamski and Seal's versions, updated with more contemporary production techniques. The UK radio edit differs from others in that it includes ATB's signature guitar sound. This version of "Killer" peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart and number 36 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.
The song featured on the acclaimed 2000 mix album CreamLive.
"Killer" (Germany release)
- "Killer" (Video Edit) 4:08
- "Killer" (Radio Edit) 4:01
- "Killer" (Killer Mix) 5:56
- "Killer" (Original Mix) 6:15
"Killer" (US release)
- "Killer" (UK Radio Edit) 3:25
- "Killer" (Radio Edit) 4:00
- "Killer" (2000) 5:52
- "Killer" (Trevor & Simon Remix) 6:50
- "Killer" (Lost Witness Remix) 7:45
- "Killer" (Joe Fandango Remix) 7:11
- "Killer" (Video Edit) 4:06
"Killer" CD 1 (UK release)
- "Killer" (UK Radio Edit) 3:28
- "Killer" (Lost Witness Remix) 7:48
- "Killer" (Lock 'n Load Remix) 8:25
"Killer" CD 2 (UK release)
- "Killer" (Killer 2000 Mix) 5:55
- "Killer" (Trevor Reilly & Simon Foy Remix) 6:52
- "Killer" (Joe Fandango Remix) 7:11
"Killer" (The remixes) (Canada release)
- "Killer" (UK Radio Edit) 4:02
- "Killer" (Joe Fandango Remix) 7:16
- "Killer" (Lost Witness Remix) 7:49
- "Killer" (Lock N' Load Remix) 8:29
- "Killer" (Joe Fandango Dub) 5:27
- "Killer" (Lost Witness Dub) 7:45
- "Killer" (Trevor & Simon Remix) 8:57
- "Killer" (Gareth Jones Radio) 3:20
"Killer 2000" (Australia release)
- "Killer 2000" (UK Radio Edit) 3:26
- "Killer 2000" (Killer 2000 Mix) 5:51
- "Killer 2000" (Lost Witness Vocal Remix) 7:45
- "Killer 2000" (Lock 'n Load Vocal Remix) 8:23
- "Killer 2000" (Trevor & Simon Remix) 6:50
- "Killer 2000" (Joe Fandango Mix) 7:11
|Dutch GfK chart||25|
|Dutch Top 40||22|
|Finnish Singles Chart||16|
|Germany (Media Control Charts)||31|
|Europe (European Hot 100 Singles)||20|
|Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)||36|
|UK Singles Chart||4|
|US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play||36|
|US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales||32|
Usage in media
"Killer" was featured in the film Miami Twice, based on the TV comedy series Only Fools and Horses. It has also been used in video games DJ Hero 2 (as a remix by Tiësto) and Forza Horizon 3 (on the in-game radio station "Bass Arena"). A short fragment of the song was played in the first scene of the first episode of Bancroft. It was also used in a May 2018 episode of ITV soap opera Emmerdale, playing on the radio in Charity Dingle's car, and triggering memories of when she was raped at age 14 by Detective Inspector Mark Bails in 1990. Most recently, it has been used by BT in a 2018 advertising campaign.
"Killer" has been recorded and performed by numerous other artists over the years:
- Jonas Capring a Swedish singer & songwriter released his cover version in 2019
- The power metal band Angel Dust include a version of the song on their 2002 album Of Human Bondage.
- It featured as a B-side to the 2003 Sugababes single "Shape".
- Scottish garage rock band Sons and Daughters used "Killer" as a B-side to their 2007 single "Gilt Complex".
- Northern Kings recorded a cover for inclusion on their 2008 album Rethroned.
- A version by Nina Hagen features on her 2011 album Volksbeat.
- UK alternative rock band 2:54 used the song as a B-side to their 2012 vinyl single "Sugar".
- British rock band Bastille also made a more electronic heavy cover of "Killer" in 2013 on their second mixtape Other People's Heartache Part 2.
- German electronic producer Boys Noize recorded a cover of "Killer" in 2018 with vocalist Steven A. Clark which they released as a single.
- Ex-Reuben frontman Jamie Lenman, covered the song for his 2019 album Shuffle.
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- "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (12.04.1993 - 18.04.1993)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir - Tónlist. Retrieved 9 March 2018.
- Killer/Papa Was a Rollin' Stone - George Michael. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
- Rated 4.5/5 stars by Allmusic http://www.allmusic.com/album/release/cream-live-mr0002978718
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