Love Lockdown

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"Love Lockdown"
Single by Kanye West
from the album 808s & Heartbreak
Released September 18, 2008
Format Digital download, radio airplay, 12-inch single
Recorded 2008
Glenwood Studios
(Burbank, California);
Avex Recording Studio
(Honolulu, Hawaii)
Genre Pop
Length 4:30 (album version)
4:15 (radio edit)
Label Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam
Writer(s) Kanye West, Jeffrey Bhasker, Jenny-Bea Englishman, Malik Yusef, Jan Menzies
Producer(s) Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker
Kanye West singles chronology
"Swagga Like Us"
"Love Lockdown"

"Love Lockdown" is a song by American hip hop artist Kanye West, released September 18, 2008 as the lead single of his studio album 808s & Heartbreak. Written and produced by West and musician Jeff Bhasker, it was premiered by West at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards prior to its release as a single. Primarily a minimal pop song, "Love Lockdown" contains elements of synthpop and electronic music, and is characterized by the Roland TR-808 drum machine and auto-tune vocals sung by West.

Despite being a drastic departure from his previous work, the song was well received by critics, and was frequently cited as a highlight of the album. Time magazine critic Josh Tyrangiel named "Love Lockdown" the best song of 2008.[1] The single was also successful commercially, as it managed to debut at number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and has since sold over three million copies in the United States.[2]


Kanye West debuted "Love Lockdown" on September 7, 2008, as the closing performance of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards. On September 18, he released it as the lead single of 808s & Heartbreak. After announcing it as the album's first single, West posted free copies of the song on his blog for fans to download. A week later, he also posted six downloadable stems, each featuring isolated song portions of "Love Lockdown", on his blog, with the intention of enabling fans to freely remix the song for themselves.[3] These portions include an a cappella, distorted background vocals, 808, percussion, piano, and the outro synth-beat.[4] The song is featured in the first episode edition of Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned on the in-game contemporary hip-hop radio station, The Beat 102.7 hosted by DJ Green Lantern.

Music and structure[edit]

Inspired by 1980s synthpop icons such as Phil Collins, Gary Numan, and Boy George, "Love Lockdown," much like 808s as a whole, is composed as a brooding pop song sung by West using the auto-tune effect and produced with the Roland TR-808 drum machine.[5] It is composed in the key of C#minor, set in the time signature of common time, and moves at 119.5 beats per minute. West's vocal range spans nearly two octaves, from G#2 to G#4. The song is written in a verse-chorus form that expresses quiet-loud dynamics, featuring verses delivered in a low, somber tone before shifting into loud, chanting choruses.

Going further against the typical sound of hip hop beat, along with the 808, the track instead makes use of tribal drums for its instrumentation.[6] West stated his intention was to juxtapose the mechanical sounds of the auto-tune and 808s with the more traditional sounds of taiko drums and choir monks.[7] The song is minimal in nature, retaining a repetitious bassline before building into more layered sounds within the chorus.[5]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, Billboard confirmed that "Love Lockdown" sold 213,000 digital downloads in only four full days of release, therefore earning itself the title of a "Hot Shot Debut" at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and a "Hot Shot Debut" on the Pop 100 at number thirteen, where it eventually reached the eighth spot in early January. It is the highest debut of West's career, and was the second highest debut on the Hot 100 of 2008, tied with David Cook's "The Time of My Life." "Love Lockdown" is also only the tenth song of the decade to debut in the top three, and only the second by an artist unaffiliated with American Idol.[8] The single also made a "Hot Shot Debut" at number five on the Canadian Hot 100.[9]

In Europe, "Love Lockdown" peaked at number eight the UK Singles Chart and at number four on the Irish Singles Chart. It also debuted at thirty-eight in Italy and thirty-nine in Sweden. In Australia, the song debuted in its first week at thirty-seven on the ARIA Charts and peaked at number eighteen. In New Zealand, it has peaked at the eleventh spot on the RIANZ chart. On the German Singles Chart, "Love Lockdown" debuted at number eight, giving West his first top ten and highest charting single in Germany to date.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Love Lockdown" was directed by Simon Henwood and premiered on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Tuesday, October 7, 2008.[10] On BET J, the video appeared at #32 on the Last Call 2008! Top 50 Countdown. It was filmed in West's apartment and features him in an all-white room, also dressed in white singing the verses of the song. West claims he drew inspiration from Christian Bale's portrayal of Patrick Bateman in Mary Harron's 2000 film adaptation of the novel American Psycho, a homage that is echoed in the presentation of the video's interiors, which mirror Bateman's New York City apartment in the film.[11] During the song's choruses, African tribe members appear, beating on djembe drums to the rhythm of song. More and more tribal members are shown with each chorus, and near the end, two very tall female figures covered with body paint decorated with abstract tattoo patterns reminiscent of the Nazca Lines appear. Interspersed throughout the video are visuals of what appears to be a spacecraft. The video ends with West laying in fetal position on the couch in the white room, in a homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The video was nominated for Video of the Year, Best Male Video, Best Hip-Hop Video, and Best Special Effects in a Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. It did not win any of the nominations.

Track listing[edit]


Information taken from 808s & Heartbreak liner notes.[12]

  • Songwriters: Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Jenny-Bea Englishman, Malik Yusef, LaNeah Menzies
  • Producers: Kanye West and Jeff Bhasker
  • Keyboards: Jeff Bhasker
  • Drums/Percussion: Gibi, Zé Bruno, Lula Almeida and Rodney Dassis

Charts and sales[edit]

Chart precession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
"Miss Independent" by Ne-Yo
UK R&B Chart number-one single
November 1, 2008
Succeeded by
"If I Were A Boy" by Beyoncé

Covers & remixes[edit]



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External links[edit]